Karl’s Bavarian Schweinsbraten (Pork Shoulder Roast)

Last Sunday I made a Georgian pork roast. This left a good bit of leftover meat. I used part of the meat to make pork tacos early in the week. When I make taco filling I add lots of chilies, onions, and celery. After we had eaten our fill I was left with a good bit of taco filling left over. I used this meat to make sixteen tamales. These were so good that Jan asked me to make more pork this weekend, so we will have leftovers for tamales next week.

Karl’s Bavarian Schweinsbraten (Pork Shoulder Roast)

Karl’s Bavarian Schweinsbraten
(Pork Shoulder Roast)

The Georgian pork was very mildly spiced with just a bit of fenugreek as the primary spice. Since I am planning to make tamales I could go with a Hispanic chili spice profile, but that is too predictable. Today I am feeling more inclined to go further north and make something German.

German food is a hard sell at my house. First there is the cultural resistance of Jan’s and my mothers’ choices in German cuisine growing up. Jan has recurring memories of sour cabbage cooked to sludge and I do not think I will ever overcome the taste of liver meatball soup (my father’s favorite).

The three legs of German cooking are meat, potatoes and cabbage. This creates a second problem, because Jan is limiting her starch intake and my son-in-law, Chris, is on a ketogenic diet where he eats no starch or fruit at all. To please them, I have been substituting cauliflower for potatoes in my feasts.

Tender, slow-cooked pork though is an easy sell, no matter what flavors I add. Many of the Schweinsbraten recipes I had found were rather plain, with only one or two spices added. The difference between a “German” Schweinsbraten and a “Bavarian” Schweinsbraten seems to be the addition of garlic. With my family I do not think they would tolerate the lack of garlic. A variation of this Bavarian Essence has potential.

The 5 pound picnic roast cut is the upper arm of the pig with the joint, most of the skin and fat will be removed by the butcher, but one side is usually left on. I generally remove this fat cap, because of Jan’s fat restrictions, but most people who are unconcerned about their fat intake would leave it on to protect the meat from the heat and to self-baste the pork as it is slow roasting.

Karl’s Bavarian Schweinsbraten (Pork Shoulder Roast)


5 lb. pork shoulder “picnic roast
Karl’s Bavarian Essence Pork Rub

2 Tbs. canola oil
2 onions, coarsely chopped
Pinch Kosher salt
1 carrot, coarsely chopped
3 stalks celery, coarsely chopped
6 cloves garlic, sliced
12 oz. good German beer


1. Cut the fat cap off the roast.

2. Jab a small knife into the meat about an inch deep all over the roast, 10-15 jabs per side.

Tip: These cuts give the spice rub channels to flow into the roast.

3. Smear the pork rub all over the meat and place it into a gallon plastic bag.

Tip: Use the entire batch of spice rub for a 5 pound roast. I smear three sides of the roast and then slip it into the bag. I do the other three sides while it is inside the bag. This makes less of a mess.

4. Seal the bag and massage the rub into the cuts you made in the roast. Refrigerate overnight.

5. Bring meat to room temperature, about 1 hour.

6. Preheat the oven to 350° F.

7. Heat the 2 tablespoons oil in a wide 5- to 6-quart Dutch oven over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking.

8. Brown the pork on all sides, about 8 minutes. Remove the pork to a plate.

Tip: The marinade has a lot of garlic in it and it will form a crust that might stick to the pot. Scrap these bits out before you sauté the onions or they will burn and turn bitter. Return the bit to the pot when the onions are done.

9. Add the remaining salt and sauté onion in the fat remaining in pot, until beginning to brown.

10. Return the pork to pot and add the beer until it comes half way up the meat.

Tip: You may substitute water or vegetable broth.

11. Bring the pot to a boil and lay a sheet of foil over the top to help seal the lid. Cover the pot and transfer it to the oven.

12. Braise, turning meat once, until very tender, about 4 hours.

13. Cool pork in pan juices for one hour and then ladle the fat that has risen to the surface into a bowl. Cover the pork and let it sit.

Tip: If you plan to leave the pork resting for more than one hour, refrigerate.

14. Let the bowl with the fat cool and then place it in a freezer for at least one hour. Discard the fat and return any pot sauce to the Dutch oven.

Tip: The fat will congeal and be easily removed.

15. One hour before dinner, remove any large lumps of congealed fat and reheat the pork, covered, in a 350° F oven.

16. After one half hour remove the cover, spoon some of the pan sauce over the meat and continue heating for 30 minutes.

16. Transfer the pork to a serving platter and tent with the foil to keep it warm.

17. If necessary reduce the pan juices by half. If you wish you may blend the vegetables into a thick sauce.

Tip: According to Mum “Never thicken with flour or cornflour. In Bavaria that would be a deadly sin!”

18. Spoon some of the sauce over the pork and serve the remainder on the side

1 Comment

Filed under Main Dishes, Pork

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