The moment that makes you realize that the work was worth it: the first cut of the roast pork.
Sven Christ cooking

A classic for the weekend: roast pork

That yearning for Munich is linked in no small part to the eager anticipation of Bavarian cuisine. So what could offer greater comfort than a crusted roast from your own oven? Munich’s chef Sven Christ shows how to make Munich specialities in a normal kitchen and with readily available ingredients. This time: roast pork with homemade dumplings, a true classic for the weekend!

As a Munich resident or a person living in Bavaria, you are familiar with that Sunday pilgrimage. Not necessarily to church, but to that trusted eatery where the best roast pork is served. This can be in your surrounding area, for example in Aying or Glonn, or in any one of the city’s great taverns. People like to meet on Sundays for “roast pork”.

We like it even better during the day than in the evening, because often enough even all the caraway seeds are not enough to digest all the roast pork, so it's better to take an hour's walk afterwards. The roast pork is usually enjoyed along with a light or a dark beer, but rarely a wheat beer because that is already quite filling and can be found in abundance in the sauce.

Right up to this point, most people in Munich agree, but then again, views can also differ once more: Should it be a roast from the shoulder or from the stomach? With bread or potato dumplings? Or one of each, with coleslaw or with red cabbage, dark beer or broth? It has to be crispy, nice and crunchy, fresh from the oven and by no means warmed up, not to mention: plenty of sauce!

As a host, you should always maintain a firm standpoint on the matter. The recipe suggested here, therefore, presents roast pork, as it has always been with me and the family I come from. The joint of meat comes from the shoulder, not just a section of it, but simply the whole shoulder, which weighs about 2-3 kilograms.

The roast loses volume during the cooking process, so there needs to be something left over – a must in all actuality – because otherwise it will have been too little and then you can't look forward to anything the next day, for example, some delicious bread with cold roast and horseradish or even a Gröstl - a traditional stunner involving crispy pork, potatoes and a fried egg.

The feeling inside me is like an ancient, deep-seated joy that always brings me back to my family, when my grandpa and grandma were still sitting at the table or some of the countless uncles and aunts.

A roast from the belly is sure to be nice and tender, that's for sure: it has more crust and is easier to prepare, but the shoulder tastes more intense and juicy. The belly is fattier and you need more caraway, but you can also smear the cooled frying fat on bread and eat while on the go.

One thing is an absolute no no: some barbecue or meat fans recommend injecting pineapple juice into the roast so that the enzymes make the meat more tender – what a schoolboy error! Given that beer is in the recipe and we do not tolerate lemon slices in our wheat beer, the addition of fruit to the roast pork should be strictly avoided. Fructose and a light pineapple flavour have no place in roasting.

The layer of fat under the skin may be finger-thick, but then we cut it with the sharpest knife in a diamond shape. Only the fat layer is salted in the roast pork, but this is then massaged generously and well. This ensures the meat does not become dry, but rather the dripping fat transports the salt around and through the shoulder.

The professional conjures up the sauce using the bone, but we have neither the time nor the options to do so; it is really only worth it if you're looking to do three litres or more. So then you have the roasted vegetables from the onion, celeriac and parsley root and carrot, nicely roasted and placed into the oven with the roast.

Together with the beer, a wonderful sauce then develops, and now comes the first essential step: at the moment when the beer is poured on, the roast should lie on the rind so that it can soak up the liquid, and should only be turned over after 30 minutes. This causes the rind to swell and develop into a thoroughly crispy crust. When deciding on the right beer to use, I typically go for a dark beer and a malt beer as this ensures enough sauce without becoming too bitter and it develops a nice colour.

For the roast pork, I have potato dumplings and coleslaw. I love it when the coleslaw mixes with the gravy! The dumplings are nice and fluffy and filled with pretzel croutons so that they don't tear when being cooked. For these half and half dumplings we need floury potatoes, half of them we boil or steam and mash, the other half we grate very finely.

Now we wring both together to form a dough; a tablespoon of starch can't hurt and a spoonful of quark, before then forming the dough and placing the croutons inside, shaping the dumplings into a uniform size and then letting them steep in hot salted water until they rise by themselves.

Given that beer is included in the recipe and we do not tolerate lemon slices in our wheat beer, the addition of fruit to the roast pork should be strictly avoided.

Preparing roast pork requires many small, precise steps, which are of course listed in the recipe. With time, however, these will become internalised so much so that it is no longer a problem to make this dish. It is a work of love, the success of which you can quickly experience for yourself, and the feeling inside me is like an ancient, deep-seated joy that always brings me back to my family, when my grandpa and grandma were still sitting at the table or some of the countless uncles and aunts.

Dishes are often described as rooted in one’s homeland or even as something by which we identify. With roast pork, I can also speak of “our” dish, a common denominator in a circle of friends, a table at which people always sit a little closer together.

When everything is ready, the sauce has been poured off and reduced, the crust has been brushed with salt water once again and is super crispy, and now it's time to carve and serve. Two dumplings per person should be enough and two slices of roast. That's how I learned it and it has served me well. With four to six people, the roast should certainly be enough and there might even be some left over.

Questions about dessert don’t hang in the air, this is something I rarely experience. A schnapps or a walk maybe, and an hour later perhaps a coffee or even some cake.

 

Click here for the recipe:

Roast pork with homemade dumplings

 

Text: Sven Christ; Photos: Frank Stolle

Coronavirus

Holidays in Munich are finally possible again! Hotels and guesthouses can welcome guests again, museums and galleries are open, guided tours are possible, and gastronomy is allowed to serve guests inside and outside. Strict hygiene regulations apply to all attractions and service providers. All important information about the coronavirus and your stay in Munich can be found here. See you soon in Munich!