As I have written before, I do lament not having an ethnic grandmother (or grandfather) who both shared the language of my ancestors as well as the cooking from the old world. Actually I got gypped on both counts, my grandparents didn't speak German and I don't recall any ethnic German food growing up.
Since I have pretty much a clean slate as far as an ethnic past, I would, if pressed probably choose to be of Italian or French heritage. Yes the Germans are precise, analytical and hard working, but lets face it, the food is better in France and Italy and Latin based languages can make even "merde" sound polite.
This weekend I attended a German Riesling wine event and the group wanted authentic German dishes to eat with the wines. Knowing how the Germans have an affinity for pork I did a bit of research and determined that my beloved Italian Porchetta Romana was a very close cousin (maybe even more like a step-brother....same Mom, diffent Dad kinda thing) to the Schwienebraten I decide to make. Before you get all up in arms about "my" version of this dish please note that I did some research and there was a WIDE variety of "authentic" recipes. The only ingredients that seemed common to all were the Caraway Seeds, Onions and Carrots. If you don't approve of my version.......make your own.
5-7 lbs pork shoulder or pork butt
2 tablespoons caraway seeds
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons crushed black pepper
1 head of garlic
1 cup german beer-(Spaten Oktoberfest would be a good choice)
2 large onions, chopped
1 lb. carrots, chopped
Start 24 hours ahead of cooking and sliver the garlic and with the tip of a paring knife insert the slivers into the pork. Rub the Pork Shoulder with olive oil and dust with salt, pepper and caraway seeds. Do this to both sides and go ahead and chop one of the onions and seat the pork shoulder roast on the sliced onion and let sit for 24 hours.
Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees (6 hours before dinner) add the roast along with the beer, chopped carrots and onion to the cooking pan. Cook the roast fat side (covered) for 1 hour. At the end of the hour flip the roast and score the fat in a decorative pattern (like the face of Jesus, or if you are less artistic like me you can just score in a criss-cross pattern). Turn the heat down to 250 degrees and cook until the internal temperature reaches 145 degrees. At that point bump up the temperature to 400 degrees and cook until you reach 160 degrees. At that point go ahead and pull the roast, place on a platter and cover with foil.
There seems to be several school of thought in regard to the pan gravy. One school has your simmer the juices to thicken, while the other has you add a roux to thicken.
I have chosen to puree the onions and carrots with the pan juices and then strain. I added a small amount of brown roux (google this if you don't know what it is) and then cooked to the consistency I desired....not too thick, not too thin.
The roast was absolutely unctuous! Moist, tender with great marbling and the kind of flavor that can only come from cooking a big piece of meat for 4-5 hours. This was lip-smackingly good enough to make anyone wish they had a German Grandmother to cook for them. From what I can tell from the research I made is that the gravy made from the pan drippings and carrot/onion bed in the cooking pan is what makes this dish. Personally, I dunno, this roast is pretty spectacular by itself. My vote would be to serve up a big hunk of this roast and be judicious with the gravy (you can always go back for more).
This dish turned out well and while "Schweinbraten" doesn't exactly roll off of your tongue like say, Porchetta Romana.......... I will say that Schweinebraten ist sehr gut!