Bavarian Pork Roast With Cracklings, Bread Dumplings, and Gravy

June 15, 2020 Updated: June 15, 2020

Bavarian Pork Roast With Cracklings, Bread Dumplings, and Gravy

This is certainly not an easy recipe and it requires a little knowledge about cooking. Everything is from scratch. It might not come out perfect the first time, but it is worth every try until you master the recipe. Lucky me, my grandmother and mother prepared that meal for us every time.

Serves 6 to 8

  • 5 pounds boneless, skin-on pork shoulder
  • 2 tablespoons salt, or more to taste
  • 2 teaspoons coarse black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon whole caraway seeds (optional)
  • 5 cups diced onions
  • 1 cup peeled and diced carrots
  • 1/2 cup crushed garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 3 1/2 cups water, divided
  • 12 ounces beer, lager or similar

Rub the entire pork shoulder generously with salt, especially the skin. Sprinkle the caraway seeds and pepper only on the meat side (not the skin). Let sit for at least 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Add the oil to a heavy roasting pan and set the pork shoulder, skin side down, in the center of the pan. Surround it with the onions, carrots, and garlic. Add 1/2 cup water and put it in the oven. 

After 20 minutes, remove the pan from the oven. Flip over the roast, skin side up, and score the skin with a sharp knife, making 1/2-inch squares. Do not cut into the meat itself. 

Return the pork roast to the oven. Let any remaining moisture evaporate, stirring occasionally, about 10–20 minutes, until the vegetables and the roast start browning nicely.

Add the beer to the roasting pan in two additions, letting it reduce by half each time, about 15 minutes. Then add about 3 cups of water and finish roasting. This could take another 30–40 minutes. Keep watching the roast so that it doesn’t get too dark, and there is always a good amount of liquid in the pan (that’s your gravy!). If needed, turn the oven down 30–50 degrees and cover the roast with aluminum foil.

The pork roast is done when you can insert a meat fork easily, and the meat slips off the fork easily when you pull it out. The skin should have crunchy blisters. Remove the pork from the roasting pan and set on a plate, covering it with aluminum foil to keep it warm, and let it rest. 

Strain all the liquid from the roasting pan through a coarse strainer, pushing down hard on the vegetables to force some of them through the strainer. This will help give the gravy a nice consistency. If the sauce is very reduced and strong, rinse the pan out with some more water and add to the strained sauce.

Serve with bread dumplings and sauerkraut.

Bread Dumplings

Makes 6 to 8 dumplings

  • 10–12 kaiser rolls, thinly sliced
  • 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups milk, heated to about 130 degrees F
  • 1/2 cup finely diced onion
  • 1 tablespoon oil or butter
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped parsley, leaves only
  • 3–4 large eggs
  • Salt to taste

Put the sliced rolls in a large bowl and pour about 1 1/4 cup of the scorched milk over it. Cover and let rest for about 30 minutes, until the bread is soft.

Sauté the onions with the oil in a skillet, seasoning with salt, until translucent. Turn off the heat and fold in the parsley.

Add the onions and 3 eggs to the bread. Season with salt and mix with your hands, squeezing the mixture well. The mixture should feel a little wet, not too dry. If needed, add one more egg first, and then possibly a little more milk.

Form the mixture into 6 to 8 round dumplings. Make sure there are no cracks in the dumplings. Gently drop the dumplings into a bot of boiling, lightly salted water. The pot should be large enough to accommodate the dumplings easily in a layer with some extra room. They will get bigger as they boil.

Cover the pot with a lid and bring back to a boil. Then slightly crack the lid and simmer the dumplings for at least 20 minutes. They can remain in the cooking water until serving for up to 30 minutes.

Recipes courtesy of Michael Schenk, executive chef, Farmer’s Table