Sunday, March 05, 2006

Schwenkbraten


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.

23 comments:

Kalyn said...

I agree, Reese Witherspoon is fabulous.

PatL said...

Oh, my gosh, Cyndi, I was an AFB too! But didn't take to the lifestyle nearly as well as you did, was happy when Dad retired when I was thirteen. Had a chance to date a pilot once when living in the Phoenix area, a Lt Colonel, really nice guy who probably would have gotten serious if I'd let him, but I just couldn't bear the thought of the itinerant lifestyle. You seem to have thrived on it, though!

Thanks for visiting my blog. Hope to see you here or there again soon. Love your discussion of schwenk. Noticed the gewurz is the same as the "-traminer" wine ... what does gewurz mean in English?

PatL

Catesa said...

ooo yum! yumyumyum. meat! looking forward to eating it again lol may have to drive to Germany for a little of that tasty looking thing :)

PatL said...

I found the posting about fabulous-but-empty kitchens, for anyone who might be interested.

Dagny said...

Thank you for your visit. I know that I will be perusing yours more now since I love German food. Usually I have to make due with going to Suppenkuche or waiting for a friend who is from Berlin to cook.

Cyndi said...

PatL - I took to the lifestyle--that's all I ever knew, being an AFB, then an AFW, and now an AFMom. Gewurz is spice, and Gewurztraminer is supposed to have "a hint of spiciness/spicyness (how EVER do you spell that?)" to it.

Ivonne said...

Cyndi,

My mouth is watering both over your post and the photo. Fantastic!

Kiki said...

Looking at your photo I can already taste it. I grew up in Germany (Bitburg AFB) and schwenkbraten was rampant in the Rheinland-Pfalz/Luxembourg border area as well. It's a childhood favorite of mine, and I was looking for a recipe when I stumbled on your blog. Nice to see someone who lived the same sort of lifestyle - I personally loved the amazing and unique experiences that are part of military life overseas and I think it's a fantastic way for any kid to grow up. My partner, our daughter and I are moving back to the Netherlands (as civillians) when we finish college in the US, and I really can't wait to be back in Europe and just hours away from my old stomping grounds (and favorite foods) again.

Did you ever get a chance to eat fried camembert cheese? The Germans bread it and deep fry it (of course!) and serve it with toast and either cranberry sauce or strawberry preserve.

Mark said...

Just wanted to say thanks for this recipe.. I was stationed @ Bitburg and have been looking for this ever since!!! Thank you Thank you thank you!!!

BTW do have a recipe for brotchen?


- Mark
mlathom@gmail.com

Jeff said...

I was lookin for this recipe and have been for a long time but have never found one until now. Imagine how thrilled I was when I saw that you were stationed at Zweibrucken. I, too, was stationed at "Sunny Zwei" from 1989 - 1992 in AGS, Combat Systems Flight.(Worked on the cameras on the Recce's). Thanks for the recipe; good to know it is exactly what I knew in Zweibrucken. Can't wait to try them!!!

RR Johnson Jr. said...

I was at sunny zwei for 8 years. Pics of the airbase (recent) can be found here: http://www.rrjohnsonjr.com

Charles said...

I was stationed At Bitburg for about six years. I missed these ssssoooo much. Thanks

Mark said...

I also fell in love with Schwenksteaks while I was at Zweibrucken (1989-1991). I could have bought them at Globus, but couldn't find a recipe to make my own, even there. Unfortunately, when I moved to Augsburg, they didn't have them.

Can't wait to try this out. It will be even better than my homemade Bratwurst.

pmurfield said...

Thanks for the recipe. I was also stationed at Zweibrucken from 1984-87 in POL, and ate a lot of the schwenkbraten. We sold a lot of these and was a big way how we paid for our POL Xmas party.

pmurfield said...

I was also station at Zweibruck in POL from 1984-87. We sold a lot of the schwenbrate, and this is how we paid for most of our POL Xmas party.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the recipe. Just got back from my annual Las Vegas weekend where four former Zweibrucken buddies still get together every year. We lived in Sunny Zwei from 68-81 and still keep in touch and still lament not being able to enjoy the food as we once used to.

The topic of Schwenkbraten came up it was a favorite. Can't wait to give this recipe a try.

Anonymous said...

I would have to agree. for anyone who has not had the experience of such a tasty meal they do not know what they are missing. I myself was stationed at Hahn AB in Germany and one of the first truly german meals i had was schewnkbraten and to this day the meer thought of it makes my mouth water. You have broguht back so many memories with this blog. I am going to have to conjure some up and introduce the family to the world of schwenkbraten. Thanks again!!!!!!

Leon Jackson

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for posting the recipe for this!!! We were stationed at Spangdahlem from 88-91 and "schwenks" were a BIG part of every base party and squadron get-togethers....i've had a hard time finding a recipe for schwenks and even asked a few transplanted Germans...they didn't know what I was talking about...so the regional thing explains it! Can't wait to give this a try!!!

Anonymous said...

I was at Bitburg in the late 1990s. hated the weather but loved the food. Especially schwenkbraten. I stumbled across you site and the pictures immediately brought back the smell, commradery (?) and even the sizzle of the grill. There were no glum faces when schwenkbraten was cooking :)

FrenchSweettooth said...

Gosh... I remember shopping at Globus when we also were stationed in Zweibrucken. We loved that store. :)

Alakar said...

Cyndi,

Thanks so much for posting this. I was stationed at Husterhoeh Kaserne in Pirmasens for 3 years and Baumholder for 3 years. Was never able to find a recipe for it and my ex-wife was from Bayern, so she had no idea how it was made.

I remember getting this at Globus, but they also carried it at the Commissary in Baumholder.

Was back to that area a few years ago, and it's kind of sad. Everything is shut down. Pirmasens, Zweibrucken, Bitburg, etc. K-Town and Ramstein are still there, but all the little sub-communities in the Rheinland are gone.

Anonymous said...

Stationed @Bitburg 89-91 w/606 ord. Enjoyed the schwenkbraten during the borderfest on the walkplatz and been dying to find a recipe to do here. Thanks so much!

HappyKen said...

I was stationed at Spangdahlem, and had Schwenkbraten on a brotchen at a festival in Witlich. Ever since, it has been my favorite sandwich. Thanks for sharing Cydi.

Kind regards,

Ken