1. Sow’s Stomach (Saumagen)
Saumagen is a German dish from the region of Palatinate, where it was created in the 18th century by local farmers as a way to use up leftover food. Translated as sow’s stomach, saumagen consists of potatoes, carrots, onions, and pork that have been seasoned and stuffed in a thick casing (pig’s stomach) which is also intended to be a part of the meal.
Typical spices include marjoram, nutmeg, and white pepper. Once cooked, saumagen can be served as it is with mashed potatoes and sauerkraut on the side, but it can also be sliced and additionally fried. What makes the dish even better is a glass of dry white wine or a cold beer on the side.
Called hackepeter or mett, this unusual German specialty consists of raw pork mince which is meant to be eaten as it is – fresh and raw. The raw meat is typically seasoned with salt and pepper, though it can (sometimes) be enhanced with crushed caraway, marjoram, nutmeg, garlic, or onions for added flavor.
When raw onions are added to the basic mett, the resulting concoction is called zwiebelmett, while the addition of onions and marjoram makes what is known as a thüringer mett. In Germany, seasoned raw pork mince is typically enjoyed slathered over bread rolls (mettbrötchen) or slices of bread, usually sprinkled with raw onion rings on top.
A barbecue specialty hailing from Saarland, schwenkbraten consists of marinated pork steaks that are grilled on a schwenker, a unique grill which is suspended from a tripod and swung over an open wood fire by a schwenkmeister (the person doing the grilling).
The pork steaks used in the dish are typically neck cuts, but other pork cuts will also do. They are usually left to soak in the marinating mixture overnight or up to 3 days. Typical ingredients used in the marinade include dried thyme, dried oregano, onions, salt, black pepper, garlic, juniper berries, oil, and (optionally) German Riesling wine.
4. German Meat Patties (Buletten )
German-style meat patties are usually made with the foundation of ground pork and the occasional addition of ground beef, soaked bread, eggs, sautéed onions, and a variety of seasonings. They are usually shaped as flat, thick, round patties that are pan-fried until brown and crispy.
Even though they often go under various names, such as frikadelle or fleischpflanzerln, they are traditionally served complemented by potatoes, salads, or doused in creamy sauces. Both a common home-cooked meal and a restaurant staple, meat patties are best paired with a glass of German beer.
Kassler is a traditional Oktoberfest dish made with cured and smoked pork. The meat is usually smoked with alder or beechwood. When served, pork is almost always accompanied by sauerkraut and mashed or boiled potatoes on the side. The origin of the name is still unknown, although some claim that it was named after a Berlin-based butcher called Cassel in the 19th century.
Schäufele is a traditional dish from the south of Germany, using pig’s shoulder as the main ingredient. Depending on the region, the meat can be cured and smoked beforehand, seasoned, and then it is either roasted or boiled. Additional ingredients may include various spices, onions, and root vegetables.
A typical Franconian version of the dish is served with gravy, potato dumplings, and a salad on the side, while the smoked and cured version from Baden is usually accompanied by a potato salad.
Eisbein is a German dish, traditionally served in Berlin. The name, which when translated means ice leg refers to a pork knuckle or pork hock which is first cured or pickled and then boiled with vegetables and herbs. In Berlin, the hock is served bone-in on a bed of sauerkraut accompanied by mashed potatoes or pea puree, usually with some mustard on the side.
A similar dish exists in Poland – the golonka, which was probably influenced by the traditional Berliner eisbein.
The term Schweinshaxe is typically used in the southern parts of Germany, predominantly in Bavaria, and it usually refers to a whole pork knuckle that is roasted for hours until it is thoroughly cooked and the skin becomes golden brown and crispy. Pork knuckles are a staple in traditional German cuisine, and they come with various names such as hachse, haxe, haxn, knöchla, hechse, hämmchen, and bötel, mainly depending on the region and a slightly different preparation process.
Eisbein is the northern version of the dish that is typically cured or pickled and then boiled. Though it is commonly found in restaurants throughout the country and the region, Schweinshaxe is a quintessential dish at the popular folk festival Oktoberfest.
Spanferkel is the German version of roasted suckling pig. Whether it is prepared cut or whole, the piglet is usually roasted in the oven or on a spit, and comes in numerous regional varieties that are often smothered in oil or butter, stuffed, then seasoned or rubbed with spices.
In Germany, suckling pig is traditionally associated with festive and special occasions and is usually accompanied by a sauce made from meat drippings, or various vegetables and salads.
Schweinebraten is a traditional German pork roast originating from Bavaria. It is typically prepared for Sunday lunch and consists of sliced pork roast that’s served with homemade gravy, semmelknödel (bread dumplings) or potato dumplings, and either sauerkraut or rotkohl (red cabbage).
When properly prepared, the meat should be succulent and very tender. The best part of pork to use for this dish is boneless pork shoulder. Before the preparation, pork is often rubbed with mustard, marjoram, or minced garlic, giving it a bit of extra flavor.