Sunday, March 05, 2006
Perhaps no food brings back better memories of Germany for DH and me than Schwenkbraten. It's basically a tender cut of pork that's marinated and then grilled on a hanging griddle over wood or coals. Go here for an explanation in German plus a picture of the special hanging grill.
When we were stationed at Zweibrücken Air Base, DH and his buddies in POL (aircraft refueling) were in charge of the schwenkbraten booth at all the base events. He and Lee would go to Globus, a great big grocery store in Zweibrücken, and buy dozens of pounds of already-marinated schwenks. They'd then put them in big foil pans next to the grill, and add beer to keep the meat moist until it was cooked. No matter how many schwenks they bought, they always sold out.
Schwenkbraten is a regional specialty from the Saarland-the area of Germany that's southwest of Frankfurt, northwest of Karlsruhe, along the French border. I believe it was part of France once-correct me if I'm wrong on that. But you can go elsewhere in Germany and look for schwenkbraten, and no one will know what you're talking about.
The basic meat for a good schwenk has got to be pork sirloin. If you use boneless pork loin chops, they're too tough. Pork sirloins are not only tender, but are just the right size to put on big crusty rolls.
There's a mixture (schwenkbraten gewurz) that's the same concept as a rub. It is reminiscent of curry, since it's a lot of spices and herbs mixed togther: garlic, paprika, onion, oregano, thyme, parsley, nutmeg, and mustard. I've added curry powder, since curry powder reminds us of the marinade they used at Globus.
So, here's how you make it: in a flat dish, lay down a thin layer of vegetable or olive oil, a layer of very thinly sliced onions, and a layer of the herb/spice mixture. Then put in some pork sirloin steaks, sprinkle with more of the herb/spice mixture, and top with more onion and oil. Cover and marinate overnight. You can also try this in a large ziploc bag, or in a Foodsaver marinating canister.
When you're ready to grill, you can either try grilling the onions on the grill,too, using foil, or grill them on an indoor grill (I use my little George Foreman). Either way, you've got to have the grilled onions on your sandwich, too.
Grill the meat until done through, and serve with the onions on crusty sandwich rolls. I use a litte mayonnaise, DH eats his plain, and my daughter likes hers with mustard.
Of course, we had this with Kartoffelsalat, or German potato salad.
Hooray for Reese Witherspoon! It really takes guts to take a role in which you have to sing, and sing like a country legend. I think she was fabulous.