If you think of German food you probably conjour up images of mountains of bratwurst and fried potatoes, lashings of saurkraut and red cabbage. One of the other icionic German pub foods is the Kassler chop, an aromatic and smokey tribute to pork. There are some very good German butchers in Perth that carry variations on the Kassler chop, but I have been wanting to try making one from scratch for a while now. The pork was marinated for a week before a 4 hour smoke to add some flavour. The dish was served with the usual German accompaniments of saurkraut, potatoe, red cabbage, mustard and apple sauce.
- 6 rib pork roast – you will need to get this from your local butcher. The supplier for this magnificent roast was Linley Valley Pork.
- 4 cups of water
- 3 tablespoons cooking salt
- 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon curing salt
- 1 tablespoon of juniper berries
- 1 tablespoon of coriander seeds
- Small bunch of sage leaves
- Small bunch of savoury thyme
- 8 or so bay leaves (dried)
- 12 cloves garlic
- 1 sliced white onion
- The pork itself was a superior quality cut of meat. When preparing just make sure any of the tougher membranes are removed.
- To make the brine I blended the garlic cloves and bay leaves to make a rough paste then added all the brine ingredients into a pot. These were brought to the boil and allowed to summer for 20 minutes. You just need to get the onions soft, but a bit longer won’t harm anything. Allow the resulting dark coloured solution to cool to room temperature.
- Place the pork roast into a zip lock bag (or two for safety). Once cooled, pour the brine with the onions and herbs into the bag along with the pork. Seal this all up and place it in a container in the fridge and allow to cure. Some recipes indicate you only need a few days. I personally went for a weeklong cure, turning the roast daily, as it fitted in with my cooking plans for the week.
- When you are ready to cook the roast, remove it from the bag and drain away the liquids. Reserve some of the onions and aromatics – I placed these on top of the roast while smoking.
- The BBQ was fired to 225F. Although traditionally Alder and Beech wood are used, these are a bit hard to source locally. So instead I used a combination of apple and cherry wood. This gave a relatively mild smoke flavour. The roast was smoked for 3.5 hours until it reached an internal temperature of 163F at which point it was removed and wrapped in foil. Some recipes call for longer times and in hindsight I think that would give a more even colour to the meat. My main concern was I didn’t want to overcook the pork.
- Once rested for 15 minutes the roast is cut between the bone to give 6 freshly smoked, and rather thick, Kassler chops.
- To finish these, give them a light fry in a hot pan (with butter of course).
The end result was a beautifully moist and surprisingly tender Kassler chop. The flavour was aromatic and less salty than commercial varieties tend to be. The big winner for me was the texture, which was very tender and on par with a well cooked steak. Commercial variants tend to be a bit tougher – score another point for Perth DIY eats.