Episode 103: Grilling from Across the Pond

Pearl District Spiessbraten

Pearl District Spiessbraten with Jicama Salad

Other Recipes from Planet Barbecue Episode 103: Grilling from Across the Pond

The Mexican influence on South Texas cuisine is ubiquitous and profound. But German immigrants at the turn of the last century had an equally marked effect on local food and drink. In 1883, a German brewmaster founded San Antonio’s City Brewery–today the trendy Pearl District. German wurst morphed into Texas’ popular hot guts beef sausage. Which brings me to our next dish–a rotisserie pork loin from The Saar Brucken–reborn as my Pearl District Spiessbraten. Originally from the Palatine region in western Germany, Spiessbraten is one of the world’s truly great grilled pork dishes. The ingredients are simple—pork, onion, and sometimes garlic. The seasonings are even simpler—salt and pepper. I’ve added mustard, ham, cheese, and poblano chiles to make my San Antonio version. The wood smoke from the fire is out of this world.


Pearl District Spiessbraten


  • 1 boneless pork shoulder roast or loin (4 to 5 pounds)
  • Coarse salt (kosher or sea) and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup 3 tablespoons Dusseldorf-style mustard
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced crosswise
  • 1 poblano chile, thinly sliced crosswise
  • 1 large dill pickle, thinly sliced crosswise
  • 3 slices 6 ounces smoked ham (like Black Forest ham)
  • 6 slices ounces muenster cheese, thinly sliced

  • 4 bay leaves
  • 4 rosemary sprigs

You’ll also need:

  • butcher’s string; a rotisserie; beechwood logs, chunks or chips (about 2 cups of the latter)

Recipe Steps

1: Butterfly the pork—that is, make a lengthwise cut through one side almost to but not through the other side, holding the knife blade parallel to the cutting board. Open up the pork roast as you would a book. Using the side of a heavy cleaver, a scallopini pounder, or a rolling pin, lightly flatten the butterflied pork.

2: Generously season the inside of the pork with salt and pepper. Spread with mustard. Layer 3 slices of cheese, 3 slices of ham, a single layer of pickles, and the remaining 3 slices of cheese.

3: Arrange the onion, poblano, and pickle slices, ham, and cheese on top. Fold the other side over the pork to return it to its original cylindrical shape. Using butcher’s string, tie the roast into a tight cylinder. Tuck the rosemary and bay leaves under the butcher’s twine and against the pork roast.

4: Set up your grill for rotisserie grilling. Ideally, you’ll spit-roast over a wood fire (preferably beechwood). Place the roast on the grill and spit-roast until crusty and browned on the outside and the internal temperature reaches 190 degrees F. This will take 1-1/2 to 2 hours.

5: Transfer the spiessbraten to a wire rack and let it rest for 5 minutes, removing the butcher’s string. Thinly slice the roast crosswise and serve with the cucumber jicama drill salad.

Recipe Tips

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