AmiExpat has been challenging other bloggers to a weekly session of German cooking from recipes she has translated herself out of an old cookbook. This week's recipe, Kalbshaxn, was chosen by Damon himself, so anyone who didn't like this recipe can blame him. :)
This adventure started last Monday with the ordering of the knuckle, which isn't something you can always just find sitting on the meat shelf at the supermarket. They said Thursday was too soon for them to get it in. On Fridays during Lent, they have no meat delivery at all. So, we ordered it to pick up on Saturday.
We were busy on Saturday so we made it yesterday. As it turns out, it was another warm, sunny, gorgeous day here in Heidelberg, and hanging out in our gross little cave-kitchen didn't seem like the best way to spend it, but we were committed to the challenge. ;)
All the usual suspects - carrots, celery root, etc - were chopped up. I used a red onion because we had a couple left over from a project earlier this week. The big hunk o' meat was seared on all sides on the stove. The veggies were fried up in some butter, beef stock was added (thanks, Knorr). You can see all this in the photos. In the third photo, Damon's demonstrating how his mom taught him to get rid of the extra oil/grease - suck it up with paper towels. At this point, the recipe calls for the whole mess to be moved from the stove to the oven in the same dish. We don't have any dishes that are appropriate for both the stovetop and the oven, so we had to just dump everything onto something else. Yes, onto, not into. We don't have any sort of large roasting dish, actually, so we cooked the knuckle on one of the shelf-pan things that came with our oven.
This actually worked out okay, though it wasn't the best. Because it was so wide, the stock and veggies were spread thin and some of them got a little burned. We ended up making another half-liter or so of stock over what the recipe called for to make the gravy, because so much of it sort of dried up on the big old shelf. The recipe called for all the veggies, after being roasted with the knuckle, to be pureed into gravy. We don't have any devices for pureeing, so we decided to leave it chunky. I actually really liked this idea because I usually prefer chunks to anything with too uniform a texture. Before putting the gravy together we picked a few charred veggies out and tossed them.
Christina suggested Semmelknoedel as a side for this dish. Although we have a great Semmelknoedel recipe that we like to make - courtesy of the German goverment, in fact (I don't see it anymore, but it was on that site) - the knuckle was enough to worry about on such a nice day, so we cheated and got the kind of Semmelknoedel you can buy in a box at the store. :)
Verdict: Good! The meat turned out well. The gravy had a little too much flavor-o'-Knorr (the powder you make stock out of) if you ask me, so maybe next time I'd go with the effort to make real beef stock. Maybe. Damon said the gravy was a lot better than he expected - no burn flavor despite a few charred veggies probably sneaking in. Naturally we'd have used a better pan if we could have and would still recommend doing that, but it can be done the way we did and still be great!
In other news, it's another unbelievably gorgeous day in Heidelberg again. Look at that green spread!!