Pečené vepřové koleno, roasted pork's knee or joint. Just mentioning it will make the mouth of most Czech men (and expats, together with not a few women) water. A glory of hospoda cuisine.
I remember the first time I ate a whole one. I hadn't been in Prague for too long, and I was with a friend at our then favourite hospoda. We were lucky, in a good mood and our plan was a beer session as we used to back then. Koleno was what we both fancied. While ordering I naively asked the waiter to bring some roasted potatoes, too. With an ironic smile and a this-guy-doesn't-know-what-he's-doing face, he said "bread is better". I shrugged and decided to follow his qualified advice. And well I did. What we were brought a few pints later looked like two brontosaurus knees. The people with whom we were sharing the table stopped talking, actually, I think the whole place stopped talking just to look at our faces.
What a beauty that was! We ate like cavemen, we didn't leave a fiber of meat on that bone, which we would have loved to gnaw at like dogs. Since then I've had this delicacy countless times, and I love more and more each time.
Fortunately, it isn't too difficult to make at home. You'll only need a handful of ingredients and a lot of time.
There are two kinds of koleno that you can find at Czech shops. Přední, also called kolinko, from the foreleg, and zadní from the hind legs, this one being bigger, and one can sometimes be enough for two people.
Besides the obvious piece of pork, the ingredients that you will need are the following:
(for one 1.75-2kg koleno, or two kolinka of about 1kg each)
0.5l of strong black beer (I use Primátor Double). Paprika, cayenne peppercorns, different colour peppercorns, plenty of bay leaf, rosemary, salt and any other things you can find around and will go together with these ingredients.
Mix everything. Place koleno in a big enough pot and marinade with mix overnight (if needed water can be added to cover the piece completely). Cook it in the marinade on a moderate fire in a covered pot for about 2 hours (kolinko), 2.5 hours (koleno). Make sure that the joints are covered with liquid, if not, turn them every now and again. When ready, take koleno out, put it in a roasting pan and roast in preheated oven (160-180°C) for about 90 minutes, turning them over at half time. While roasting you can baste the joint with the broth from the pot. Take out from oven when the skin is golden enough and serve immediately.
As garnish use mustard, freshly grated horseraddish, pickles and rye bread. You can also put on the side sliced peppers, cucumbers and spring onions. Oh! and of course, beer. A nice amber, as for example Primátor Poltomavé 13°, will go very well.
For those who are afraid that, after eating a Pečené koleno, their cholesterol level might shoot down a spy satellite, don't worry. All the fat is under the skin that, if the knee is well done, will come off easily leaving only tasty and pretty lean meat.
PS: Don't throw away the broth from the pot, it can be used to make gravy or a base for soup. The bone can be given to the dog or keep it in the freezer to make more broth.