I'm no master of German cuisine, and when I decided to host an Oktoberfest cookout of sorts, my first, and only, recipes I thought of were all of the wurst variety. I felt like I both wanted to cook and offer more than sausages to my guest, so did some research on other ubiquitous German grilled meats and came across schwenkbraten—marinated and grilled pork neck steaks. It seemed like schwenkbraten consisted of three things, all dubbed schwenker—the unique suspended swinging grill over a live fire for cooking, the person actually doing the grilling (or most correctly, the swinging), and the meat itself. Seeing as I had two out of three and, having never had schwenkbraten before, I was freed a bit of the confines of authenticity, it seemed like a decent choice to help fill out the menu with at least one thing that fit the theme was not an encased meat.
To start this recipe off, I attempted to get some true pork neck steaks, and while pork neck wasn't all that difficult to find, procuring it in a steak fashion, and not cut into little pieces, was. So I did what I figured was the next best, and closet thing. I trimmed off half-inch thick steaks from a pork shoulder I was also using to make sausages. Seeing as the shoulder is pretty close to the neck and the steaks had a similar amount of fat and connective tissue, I felt good that this was the right direction.
The flavoring of the marinade seemed a little bit like a cook's choice. I read recipes and watched some German Youtube video for research and what went into the sauce was wide and varied. Most everyone had oil (of course), garlic, juniper berries, and mustard. So I began there added in dried thyme and oregano for the herbal component that looked common, as well as paprika and cayenne for a touch of spice and heat.
Onions also seemed a must, so I tossed one sliced onion into the marinade and coated it, along with the pork, in the liquid. My plan later was to make use of those onions by grilling them and using them as a topping for the sandwiches.
Another hallmark of schwenkbraten recipes was a long marinade time. Seeing as there wasn't a whole lot in the marinade that would actually react with the meat to make significant changes over time, I question if that is really a necessity, scientifically speaking. I did marinate mine almost 24 hours since I prepared it the afternoon before the event, but I would imagine less time wouldn't produce dramatically different results. For good measure though, I left he ideal timing from overnight to two days in the final recipe.
My major area of concern in making these was how they would turn out cooked over high heat. Pork shoulder, and neck, is full of fat and connective tissue that is chewy and tough when cooked quickly, but renders when cooked low and slow. If using a traditional schwenker, I assume the grilling is a bit slower than on a grill since the coals are further from the grill grate, but it's still hot and fast cooking and not what I was used to for shoulder meat.
I must say though, they did grill up to be really beautiful. In just a few minutes per side, the thin steaks developed a nice sear with attractive browning and were also just cooked through, without being over done—so the hot fire did its job in this respect.
Once the steaks were done and I had room on the grill again, I put a cast iron skillet over the coals and let it preheat for a few minutes. I then took the onions from the marinade and cooked them in the hot skillet until they were crisp-tender, which took about five minutes.
And now for what's become a standard PSA of mine—if you're making sandwiches on the grill, use that massive space and heat source to grill your bread! That bread in this scenario were Kaiser rolls, which I toasted over direct heat until lightly browned, warmed through, and a bit crusty.
I then turned my three grilled elements into sandwiches by topping each bun with a pork steak or two and a portion of the onions. Whether they tasted good was still a question, but they certainly looked great and very meat forward, which is how I imagine a lot of German dishes are.
And the flavor was pretty great too. The marinade was powerful and lent a nice pungent and herbal profile to the meat and onions, along with a slight hit of heat. The pork itself was well cooked, but as I expected, there was a bit more chew to it than I'm used to. That's not to say that's a bad thing—there was no bit of this sandwich that was inedible—it was just different, and what I assume is all part of the experience. My main point of contention was the sandwiches felt a tad dry when taken altogether, but that's something a little spread of mustard or mayo could easily fix, and I would add that in if I were making these again. All-in-all though, they provided the non-wurst dish I was looking for and introduced me to something new that I now must seek out and try to see what real deal schwenkbraten is all about.
A long stint in a herbed and spiced mustard marinade gives these German pork steak sandwiches an immense flavor.
- Prep Time:
- 10 Minutes
- Inactive Time:
- 4 Hours
- Cook Time:
- 10 Minutes
- Total Time:
- 4 Hours 20 Minutes
- 8 servings
- 1/3 cup canola oil
- 2 tablespoons spicy mustard
- 1 tablespoon Kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 4 juniper berries, crushed
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2lbs pork neck or shoulder steaks, cut 1/2-inch thick
- 1 large yellow onion, cut into 1/2-inch slices
- 8 Kaiser rolls
- In a small bowl, whisk together oil, mustard, salt, garlic, paprika, juniper berries, thyme, oregano, and cayenne pepper. Add in onion and steak and toss to thoroughly coat. Transfer to a large Ziploc bag, seal, removing as much air as possible, and place in refrigerator overnight to two days.
- Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and spread the coals evenly over entire surface of coal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate. Place porks steaks on grill and cook until browned and just cooked through, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer steaks to a cutting board or platter.
- Place a cast iron skillet on grill and let preheat for 2 to 3 minutes. Place onions in skillet and cook until slightly softened, about 5 minutes. Remove skillet from grill and set aside. Place rolls on grill, cut side down, and cook until warmed through and lightly toasted, about 1 minute.
- Transfer buns to serving platter or plates, top each bottom half with pork steaks and onions. Serve immediately.
Two Bbq Recipes
Two Bbq Recipes
There is no shortage of barbecue recipes. Almost everyone who barbecues food has a few favorite recipes. Here are a couple of fun barbecue recipes to try out. You never know when you'll find a new family favorite!
GRILLED VENISON WITH BACON
Prep time: 6 to 7 hours
Cooking Time: 20 minutes
2 lbs. venison backstrap (tenderloin)
1 qt. apple cider
1 1/2 lbs. thick sliced bacon
2 12oz. bottles of barbecue sauce
Cut venison into 2 inch chunks and place in a shallow baking dish. Pour enough apple cider into the dish to cover the venison pieces fully. Place the dish in a refrigerator and allow to soak for two hours.
Remove venison from the cider and shake the pieces vigorously to free them of cider. Throw away the cider that is left in the dish. Wash the dish before putting the venison in it again.
Put the venison back in the dish and pour in the barbecue sauce generously — so that it covers the venison fully. The dish should then be covered and returned to the refrigerator for two to three hours.
Remove the venison from the fridge and let it stand for half an hour in normal room temperature. Next, wrap bacon slices around each chunk of venison. Secure the with toothpicks to make sure that it does not fall off during grilling.
The venison is now ready to be barbecued. Heat the grill and brush some olive oil on the grill grate. Lay the venison packed in bacon on the hot grill. You can expect the bacon to cause flame-ups, but don't worry. Let it get slightly burnt. It adds to the smoked flavor. Turn the venison a few times to ensure smooth and even cooking, and serve hot.
STUFFED GRILLED PORK CHOPS
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
4 extra-thick rib pork chops, 1″ to 1 1/4″ thick
3/4 cup dry breadcrumbs
Large pinch dried rosemary, crumbled fine
Large pinch dried marjoram, crumbled fine
1 Tbsp. melted butter
1/2 cup minced sweet onion
1 small clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. salt
Slice shallow pockets in the pork with a sharp knife.
Take a deep dish and toss the breadcrumbs, herbs, butter, onion, garlic, and salt. Mix well, then stuff the mixture into the pockets.
Grill the chops. They should be grilled at medium-high heat for 8 to 10 minutes per side. To ensure even cooking, the chops should be turned several times.
Serve once the chops are nicely browned.
Taking Dinner Outdoors? Americans Get Their Grills On
Taking Dinner Outdoors? Americans Get Their Grills On
While nearly everyone in America grills, not everyone is comfortable barbecuing more than the basics. Here's an approach to grilling you can “steak” your reputation on:
Neighborhood grocery stores can help make the outdoor cooking experience easier by providing everything a griller needs under one roof. The Great Grilling program at Safeway features recipes, tools and high-quality ingredients for families that want to create delicious meals on the grill, and their Rancher's Reserve beef is guaranteed tender. The recipes were developed in the test kitchens of Sunset magazine to make it easier for shoppers to grill up a meal on the spur of the moment.
Whether using a charcoal or gas grill, having the right accessories on hand makes for easy and safe grilling-and even easier cleanup. A wide spatula, extra-long tongs, a long-handled brush and a spray bottle with water are the foundation for a great griller's tool kit.
Direct-heat grilling is best for thin cuts of meat that cook quickly. It gets them nicely browned on the outside in the short time they take to get done in the middle. Here's a surefire recipe using direct-heat grilling:
Flank Steak with Green Olive-Jalapeño Tapenade
A Mediterranean-inspired tapenade is a flavorful addition to this tender flank steak.
Prep time: About 20 minutes
Grill time: 13 to 17 minutes, plus 5 minutes to rest off the grill
Makes: 4 servings
1 jar (4.5 oz.) Safeway Select Stuffed Jalapeño Olives, drained
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 cup coarsely chopped Italian parsley
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves
1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
1/4 cup Safeway Select Verdi Olive Oil
1 Rancher's Reserve Flank Steak (about 11/2 lb.)
1. Prepare barbecue grill and preheat for direct-heat cooking. For charcoal grill, before you put the grill over the hot coals, brush it with a medium coat of oil; for gas grill, when hot, brush grill with a medium coat of oil.
2. Rinse olives and drain well. Combine olives, garlic, parsley, rosemary, lemon peel and oil in a food processor and pulse until mixture forms a fine paste. Set aside 1/2 cup of the tapenade mixture for seasoning meat; reserve remainder for serving or another use.
3. Rinse flank steak and pat dry. With the tip of a sharp knife, make shallow diagonal cuts about 1 inch apart over one side of steak, then make cuts perpendicular to the first to create a diamond pattern. Repeat on other side of steak.
4. Spread 1/2 cup of the olive mixture on both sides of steak to coat evenly.
5. Lay steak on oiled grill over a solid bed of hot coals or high heat on a gas grill. Keep charcoal grill uncovered; close lid on gas grill. Cook steak until browned on the bottom (lift edge with tongs to check), 8 to 10 minutes. With tongs or a wide spatula, turn steak and continue to cook until done as desired, about 2 minutes longer for rare (red in center; cut to test) or 4 minutes longer for medium-rare (pink in center).
6. Transfer steak to a clean platter or rimmed carving board and let rest about 5 minutes, then cut in thin, slanting slices across the grain to serve. Offer remaining tapenade to add to the meat to taste.
Beverage suggestions: A spicy, plummy zinfandel; a hoppy, English-style pale ale; or peppermint iced tea.
Tools: Grater (for peel), strainer or colander, measuring cups and spoons, food processor, paper towels, sharp knife, spatula for spreading, heatproof brush for oiling grill, tongs or wide spatula, platter or rimmed carving board.
Menu Ideas For The Barbecue Grill
Menu Ideas For The Barbecue Grill
A good barbecue isn't easy and there's no substitute for experience but we've all got to start somewhere so if you're a BBQ novice then read on.
Below are plenty of fantastic barbecue tips and menu ideas for the grill so if any ladies out there have read my article entitled “Modern Man And The Barbecue Grill” you’ll already be on the road to converting your man from the fire pits to the BBQ King with some easy BBQ recipes.
I’ve already spoken about the patience that’s required when it comes to lighting the grill and the need to heat up the coals and eliminate the flames. Remember, “coals are hot, flames are not!” and we’re on the road to a successful BBQ cookout. This same rule applies to gas grills as well as charcoal, gas grills may be more or less instant but it's still important to ensure that the lava rocks are fully warmed through and this usually takes about 15 minutes. Charcoal of course will be more like 45 minutes before it's ready to cook on.
So what’s the next step? The best tip I can give is to take time to plan the menu, think carefully about what you’re going to cook.
But isn’t it easier just to do burgers and sausages? No! In fact burgers and sausages are quite difficult for to reasons:-
1. Relatively speaking they’re high in fat compared with other foods. Now I know we need fat to drip onto the coals to create the smoke to give the flavor but too much fat and the BBQ will flare up – a sure fire way to cook up a burnt offering.
2. They’re made from ground beef and that means they must be cooked through. Food poisoning is generally caused by the bacterium e-coli that grows on the surface of the meat. Cook the outside of a steak and you can safely eat the inside raw but think about a burger, with ground meat, the meat that's on the inside has also been on the outside.
So if you’re not yet convinced about your man’s BBQ capabilities choose a meat that doesn’t need to be cooked through to be safe. Try barbecue beef, barbeque lamb or BBQ fish.
Back to the “coals are hot, flames are not” theme it’s important to light up the grill on its highest position away from the coals. This means that the meat will be cooked slowly therefore giving you the best guarantee that it will be cooked through and should there be a “flare up” you are as well protected as you can be from burning. Of course if it’s going too slow, lower the grill step by step until you get the sizzle, in other words start gently and slowly work up the heat.
Finally to make for a really flavorful cookout, why not try a marinade? Marinades not only add flavor they also tenderize and all that’s needed is a little thinking ahead for preparation time. There’s a good few websites out there offering free barbecue recipes so it’s easy to find different menu ideas.