Photograph courtesy of Der Braumeister

The past two years have been tough. For better luck in 2022, serve pork on New Year’s Day. At least that’s what German culture suggests. Pork is considered lucky because pigs root forward with their noses, unlike other animals. By moving forward things should change for the better.
“My family has always had the roasted pork dinner on New Year’s Day,” says Jenn Wirtz, third-generation owner of Der Braumeister in Cleveland. “I never knew why until my Oma (grandmother) explained to me. It’s supposed to bring good luck for the new year.”
For those who don’t want to cook at home, Der Braumeister is serving pork dinners through the end of the year. They will not be open on January 1.
“Every year we had pork loin, slow roasted in the oven with sauerkraut and bread dumplings,” says Wirtz. “At the restaurant we make it a little differently every year. For the restaurant this year my mom has decided to brine a pork loin and roast it similar to a sauerbraten process.” The recipe for the sauerbraten includes using red wine, vinegar, juniper berries, ginger and slow roasting for a tender result. For the pork we use, it’s made of apple cider.
“We like to push the boundaries of what people think of as German food,” she says. “Immigrant food sometimes becomes associated with a memory of what your grandparents made or what people remember eating in that country. It’s interesting to work within those traditions and then reintroduce classics that use new culinary techniques such as something simple, like working locally and seasonally to source the ingredients.
And, despite challenges in the supply chain, Wirtz is continuing her December tradition offering 12 beers of Christmas – all rare, seasonal, some exclusive brews. These include Bitburger Winterbach from Germany that’s slightly spiced.
For those making pork at home, Wirtz’s mom, Chef Linda, shares the following recipes.
Der Braumeister
New Year’s Day Pork Loin
4 cups apple cider
½ cup sugar
1 ½ cups salt, kosher
3 cloves garlic, halved
2 apples, peeled and sliced
1 onion, large, sliced
2 tablespoons butter
3-pound center cut pork loin
1 cup chicken stock
Brine: Heat two cups cider over medium heat until it simmers. Whisk in sugar, salt, and garlic. Once dissolved, remove from heat. Add remaining apple cider and cool to room temperature. Place pork loin in glass bowl or large Ziploc bag. Add brine. Cover or close. Refrigerate 8 hours to overnight.
Roast: Preheat oven to 425 F. Remove pork from brine and dry with paper towels. Discard brine. Sauté apples and onions in melted butter. Sear pork on fatty side – about two to three minutes – then other sides. Place pork atop apples and onions. Add chicken stock. Reduce oven temperature to 350 F. Roast 60 to 80 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 145 F. Let roast rest 15-20 minutes while making gravy.
Pork Gravy
1 tablespoon butter
½ cup apple cider
½ cup cornstarch
Strain pork juices and discard apples and onions. Put liquid back into roasting pan and scrape brown bits. Add butter. Mix cornstarch and cider in a bowl. Bring stock to a simmer. Slowly add cornstarch mixture to stock, while whisking. Let simmer, whisking occasionally, until thickened. Serve with roast.