By Christie Vanover | Published February 20, 2016 | Last Updated February 16, 2023
There is something remarkable about pork slow-smoked on a rotisserie over open coals. But in Germany, in the little moutainside town of Idar Oberstein, they have found a way to make smoked pork event better. The special dish is called Spiessbraten – pronounced SPEECE-BRA-TUN.
Two flavor punches make Spiessbraten different from any other type of rotisserie pork: onions and beech wood. Don’t try using hickory or apple. For the authentic flavor of Germany, it’s important to use beech wood chips.
To ensure the pork is fully flavored, take a full pork shoulder and butterfly it (watch the below video to see how). Then, smother the pork in seasoned onions and let it marinate overnight.
Remove the onions, but be sure to save them, because they’re awesome caramelized as an accompaniment. Roll that pork baby onto a spit and smoke it with the beech wood for about 5 hours, or until the internal temperature reaches 195F.
- 1 pork butt
- 5 onions
- 2 tbsp kosher salt
- 1/2 cup oil
- 2 tbsp German mustard
- 2 tsp dried thyme
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- 2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
Other items needed
- cooking twine
- beech wood chips
- Using a sharp boning knife, remove the bone from the pork butt. Butterfly the pork so that it’s about ½-inch thick.
- Slice the onions and place in a large bowl. Mix in the oil, mustard and spices. Wearing rubber gloves, massage the onions to release their juices.
- Spread half of the onion mixture on a large sheet pan. Add the pork on top. If you have to layer the pork, be sure to add onions in between the layers. Add the remaining layers to the top of the pork. Cover with plastic wrap and press to seal. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight.
- Remove the pork from the onions. Set the onions aside.
- Roll the pork up into a log-shape, and secure with cooking twine. (watch the video to see how.)
- Thread the meat onto a rotisserie spit. Let sit at room temperature.
- Soak the beech wood chips in water.
- Prepare your coals, until they are hot. Sprinkle beech wood chips on top of the coals. Cook the pork on the rotisserie about one-foot over the coals, until the internal temperature reaches 195F degrees, about 5 hours. You will need to add more coals and wood chips throughout the cook.
- While the pork is cooking, place the onions in a large pot and cook down over low heat to serve with the pork. Add ½ to 1 cup water or German beer to the onions as they reduce.
- When the pork reaches 195 degrees, immediately remove the pork from the spit, and remove the twine. Let rest for 30 minutes before slicing and serving.
This estimate was created using an online nutrition calculator
to 195….its overdone….ive had this at ImHaag in Idar….and it was always pork loin…not a butt and done to medium pink over the open fire and it was perfect every time….
Yes, that is way overdone!
What cut of pork do you use? I agree if using a loin, I would cook it to a much lower temp. But if pork butt is cooked at a lower temp, it’s chewy.
My great uncle was from Idar-Oberstein and owned one of the best restaurants in the area, and this recipe is not what he did. I still make Spieesbraten to this day. I must say that the internal temp you gave will result in shoe leather, about 150 to 160 is perfect for nice juicy meat. Most of the spices you mentioned are not used either. Salt, pepper, cumin, and onions is it.
Thanks James. It’s been very hard for me to find an authentic recipe. My version doesn’t taste like shoe leather though. It has the consistency of pulled pork, but I’m happy to give your version a try. Thanks for sharing.
Hi James we were stationed in Idar -Oberstein 77-80. Have been looking years for a good recipe of Spiessbraten to make for Christmas dinner. Are you willing to share your Uncle’s recipe. [email protected]
When I was a young…Lieutenant, stationed in Baumholder, we would get a few of us LT’s together and head to the Em Hogg in Idar. Was great food….
I was stationed in Idar-Oberstein from ’76 to ’81 and in Baumholder ’89 to ’91 great town and great food. thanks for recipe
The temp depend on the cut of pork. For sure if you grill a pork loin you want to shoot for something that is still pink in the middle since that cut has almost no internal fat. Using the butt like you did 195 to 205 is perfect and is what the professional BBQ’ers shoot for. A butt is full of fat and a good plan would be to smoke/grill in the open until you get to 160 degrees or so, and then wrap in foil to finish to 195/200.
I agree with anonymous. 195° is overcooked. I wouldn’t use the butt. I regularly use 1/ 4 loin tenderloin. It’s hard to ruin this dish unless its cooked too long.
Thanks for the feedback. I will definitely have to try it with pork loin, which I agree needs to be cooked to a much lower temp – like 145F.
A friend of mine his dat was born in Idar Oberstein and he made this for me. The only ingrediënts where unions, salt and peper.
At least let it stay overnight better is two and than indirect grill for at least 5 hours.
I was in Idar-Oberstein during the first year (1979-80) of my two tours in Germany. Im Haag was great as was another small gasthaus in downtown I-O which my girlfriend liked actually the best of all. Schloss Schenke at the foot of the mountain in the center of town by the church of the rock also specialized in Spiessbraten.
Very good recipe. I used a roast from a wild pig and added bacon in the middle to provide some needed fat.
Maybe it is a regional thing, I don’t know, but as a German, I have never seen Spießbraten made this way. Typically, and this is how I was brought up, you can use Pork Butt, butterfly it, but what makes it all different here is, that you spread german mustard on the inside of the pork butt, spread diced Onions and Bacon and optional (Pickles). You fold it all over and tie with a kitchen string and then you slowly roast it over open fire using a rotisserie until you reach an internal temp of 145 degrees. You still want it to be a smidget of pink inside.
Thanks for sharing your method. I’ll have to give it a try.