Popular Bavarian Dish for the Holidays

Whenever I tell folks I am originally from Franconia (Northern Bavaria), also known as the land of the Beutebayern, I get a lot of different reactions. Some find our singsong talk quaint, others relate the stubbornness  they experienced with Franconians, and yet others rave about its cuisine. Today’s post is about Knöchle (pork knuckles), one of the most popular dishes Franconians like to eat around the holidays, whether on Christmas Eve or New Year’s Eve.

For Christmas Eve dinner, I had tried to order Knöchle from our local supermarket right here in the state of Hesse. Pork knuckles had always been known to me as Knöchle in the Franconian dialect, and only by the time I made it to the Hessian meat counter to place my order did it dawn on me that the Franconian term Knöchle might not be understood.

Well, the clerk had to ask a coworker and boss to see if anyone knew what Knöchle were, but nobody spoke Fränkisch there. I did not know the proper German term for this delicacy either and so I had to go home and call my sister in Franconia. Then I learned I should have ordered Eisbein and I felt a bit foolish then.

Eisbein – a rather North German version is cured (salted) and cooked, while the Schweinshaxe, the more southern German version is grilled. The Eisbein is generally served with Sauerkraut and yeast dumplings.

As soon as I knew the term Eisbein, I went back to the supermarket to place my order. Then I was told it was too late to fill my order in time for Christmas Eve. For something exotic as such, I would have to allow a few working days.

Tuesday Special: Pork knuckles, mashed peas, Sauerkraut and yeast dumplings for € 5,50

So when we spent the last few days in Franconia, we passed by our local village’s meat shop and guesthouse, and there we had it: Knöchli advertised as Special of the Day!

If you ever happen to be in the area of Schweinfurt, more specifically Hambach in Lower Franconia, then stop by the guesthouse:

Gasthaus und Metzgerei Geißler Hauptstraße 41 97456 Dittelbrunn-Hambach Tel.: 09725 4471. (Call for a reservation on Sundays and holidays)

Knöchle with Sauerkraut and yeast dumplings

A close-up of this humongous Knöchle

Knöchli in a jar

After lunch,  we also got Knöchle in a jar from their meat shop next door. Guess you could say we went a bit Knöchle-crazy there… but we also felt lucky, blessed, a bit overeaten, and somewhat nostalgic.

Guess what’s on our menu for New Year’s Day? Yes, Knöchli, mashed potatoes and Sauerkraut. Especially the latter one is an important item on any New Year’s Days menu, especially in Franconia, as eating Sauerkraut will ensure your good fortune for the coming year.

Last, but not least. Have you noticed that the guesthouse advertised its special with Knöchle and the adjacent meat shop calls them Knöchli? Both forms are correct.

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