Eisbein is one of my secret (well, not any more) comfort foods. I first tasted it in an Alsacian restaurant in Paris many many many years ago and it took me several years to figure out how to make it, and then how to get it right. I'm not going to pull any punches, this is a complicated project, unless you have sauerkraut or sauerueben on hand, and some good broth. It's best made with homemade sauerkraut or (now that I've discovered it) sauerueben, which is so darn easy it's silly. And don't even think about making it with anything other than the very best homemade stock. Because I am mildly insane, I have recently taken to smoking my own ham hocks, but storebought are just fine. Be aware of how salty the hamhocks are before adding more salt to the final dish. I'm assuming you know how to make mashed potatoes. When I make them for this dish, I make them particularly buttery. Hey, it's comfort food!
I've made Eisbein for years with sauerkraut, but after tasting sauerueben at Farmstead, Inc., Matt Jenning's awesome Providence, RI restaurant and cheeseshop I became mildly obsessed. Now, I think sauerueben is pushing at my beloved sauerkraut for shelf space in the pantry.
It's getting to be wintertime, and while this is a very delicious way to comfort yourself, it's also a great side dish for turkey dinners. —MrsWheelbarrow