Eisbein on the braai


South Africans braai.  Although similar to a barbacue, you never even mention that word to a South African. We braai, that is what we do. To braai you need an open fire, a grill, good friends and good wine.

The usual fare for a braai is things like steak, sausage (boerewors!), kebabs and chops. The other option of course is a potjie.  A potjie, as it is commonly known in South Africa, is a three-legged black cast-iron pot in which you make a slow-cooked stew over low heat (few coals from your fire).

So, last night we decided on an experiment.  Eisbein (smoked and cured pork hock, a common german fare), slowly cooked in a potjie (2 hours), and grilled over warm coals with a tiny bit of honey, apricot jam and soya sauce glaze. I don’t know if it has ever been done before, but this was a first for us, and also a huge success!  After removing the eisbein from the pot, I used the leftover stock in the potjie to cook rice. I literally just threw a cup of rice in the potjie and let it cook. Although the stock turned into a beautiful gravy it was a bit salty and I won’t recommend doing it that way. Rather add half the stock to water and cook the rice in a pot on the stove. It will be much faster and probably more flavoursome as you will lose some of the salt.  I will thus not discuss that part of the experiment but I will most definitely tell you about the eisbein.  It really was very yummy! This recipe is enough for 3-4 people especially if served with sides. To determine the length of cooking time for the eisbein I used the same approach as for a gammon-30 minutes plus 30 minutes for every 500 grams of eisbein.

2 tablespoon olive oil

1 esibein (mine was approximatly 1.3 kg, bone-in of course)

1.5 liters water

1 onion, roughly chopped

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

3-4 medium sized carrots, sliced

2 tablespoons dried sage

2 bay leaves

5-6 cloves

Make a fire in your braai, and once you have a couple of coals, place them under your potjie. Add your olive oil to your potjie, let it heat up, then saute your onions and garlic for 5-7 minutes. Make a gap between you onions, place your eisbein in the pot, add your carrots, sage, bay leaves and cloves.  Now cover with boiling water, close the lid, and sit back and enjoy a glass of wine.  Whilst wiating out the 2 hours, make a glaze with 1 tablespoon honey, 1 tablespoon apricot jam and 2 tablespoons soya sauce.  Also remember to turn the eisbein around once during the cooking time.

Once the eisbein has cooked through, remove it from the potjie, place it on a grill over hot coals and turn on a regular basis until golden and crispy.  If you make a glaze, brush it every now and again as you turn it but make sure not to burn the eisbein!  Glaze caramelizes very quickly. Once it’s crispy enough to taste, remove from the grill, let it rest for about 10 minutes and serve!  The pork will literally fall of the bone. Enjoy!

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