Schweinen en Zwibelgescharb: Pork with Onion Gravy

What, Where, When:

  • This dish of fire-roasted pork is served in a unique, flour-thickened onion sauce. 
  • It is based on several recipes found in Rumpolt, a German source dated to 1581.

Original Recipes and Translations:

All translations in this section are by Sharon Palmer, also known as Ranvaig Weaver (Palmer).

Schweinen 24.  Nim~ den Ruckbraten/ vnd brat jn/ vnd wenn er gebraten ist/ so thu jn in ein Mandel oder Epffelgescharb/ oder in angemachte Zwibeln/ so ist er lieblich zu essen.

Take the back roast/ and roast it/ and when it is roasted/ then put it in an almond or apple gescharb (sauce)/ or in prepared onions/ then it is lovely to eat.

Schweinen 24.  Nim~ den Ruckbraten/ vnd brat jn/ vnd wenn er gebraten ist/ so thu jn in ein Mandel oder Epffelgescharb/ oder in angemachte Zwibeln/ so ist erGanß 12.  Gebratene Gänß mit Zwibeln im gescharb.  Nim~ die Zwibeln/ schel vnd schneidt sie breit/ vnd gar dünn/ thu sie in Butter/ vnnd schweiß sie wol/ daß du sie doch nicht verbrennest/ auch nicht braun machst/ thu ein wenig Mehl darein/ vnd rürs vmb/ vnd ist zu viel Butter daran/ so seig sie ab/ vnd geuß ein gute Rindtfleischbrüh/ die wolgeschmack ist/ darein/ mach sie an mit gestossen Pfeffer/ so wirt es Ascherfarb von dem Pfeffer/ thu ein wenig schwartze Rosein/ die sauber außgewaschen seyn/ darein/ vnnd laß mit den Zwibeln eynsieden/ daß fein dick ist/ so wirt es gut/ wolgeschmack/ vnd fein süß von Zwibeln.  Du magsts saur machen/ oder also lassen/ doch ohne Essig ist besser.  Vnnd wenn du die gebratene Ganß anrichtest/ so thu das Gescharb darvnter/ denn solche Gescharb seindt zu vielerley Gebratens gut zu geben. lieblich zu essen.

Roasted goose with onions in gescharb sauce.  Take the onions/ peel and cut them wide/ and very thin/ put them in butter/ and sweat them well/ that they yet do not burn/ also are not made brown/ put a litte flour in it/ and stir well/ and if there is too much butter in it/ then pour it off/ and pour a good beef broth/ that is well tasting/ in it/ mix it with ground pepper/ so it becomes ash colored from the pepper. Put a little black raisins/ that are washed off clean/ into it/ and let it cook with the onions/ that it is nicely thick/ like this it will be good/ well tasting/ and nicely sweet from onions.   You may make it sour/ or leave it thus/ however without vinegar is better.  And when you dress the roasted goose/ then put the gescharb sauce under it/ because such gescharb sauce is good to give with many roasts.

Murmentel 3.  Schwartz eyngemacht im Pfeffer/ mit seinem Schweiß/ wie man ein Hasen eynmacht/ es sey mit Zwibeln oder nicht/ Wann es gebraten ist/ so schneidt man es zu stücken/ vnd legt es in das gescharb/ vnnd leßt es damit sieden/ es sey Mandel oder Epffelgescharb.  Nim~ Zwibelgescharb/ wie vorhin vermeldt ist zu machen/ mit Zwibeln vnd Epffeln klein gehackt/ vnnd mit kleinen schwartzen Rosein/ die fein sauber seyn/ mit Rindtfleischbrüh vnnd Essig angemacht/ vnd mit Pfeffer vnd Saffran/ thu ein wenig eyngebrennt Mehl darein/ laß darmit sieden/ so wirt es wolgeschmack vnd gut.  Wan~ das Murmentel gebraten ist/ so schneidt man es zu stücken/ vnd legt es in das gescharb/ laß darmit auffsieden/ so wirt es gut.

Made black in pepper sauce/ with its own blood/ as one makes a hare/ be it with onions or not/ When it is roasted/ then one cuts it to pieces/ and lays it in the gescharb sauce/ and lets it simmer together/ be it almond or apple gescharb sauce.Take onion gescharb sauce/ as is previously described to make/ with onions and apples chopped small/ and with small black raisins/ that are nicely clean/ mixed with beef broth and vinegar/ and with pepper and saffron/ put a little browed flour in it/ let simmer together/ then it becomes well tasting and good.  When the marmot is roasted/ then one cuts it to pieces/ and lays it in the gescharb/ and let come to a boil with it/ then it becomes good.

Küniglein 5. Eyngemacht in einem gelben Gescharb/ es sei von Mandeln oder Epffeln/ mit Zwibeln durcheinander gehackt/ vnd geschweißt/ mit Butter angemacht/ gelb/ vnd fein säurlich/ mit klein Schwartzen Rosein/ vnd guter Rindtfleischbrühe/ die nicht versaltzen/ nimm eingebrennt Mehl darein/ vnd laß miteinander sieden. Vnd wenn das Küniglein gebraten ist/ so schneidt es in das gescharb/ laß darmit sieden/ so wirt es wol geschmack vnd gut. Vnd ein sollches Küniglein kan man braten/ vnd in Epffel schneiden/ oder in ein Mandelgescharb/ vnd damit kochen lassen/ Oder mit Ziweben eyngemacht fein süß/ so ist es gut vnd wol geschmack.

Made in a yellow gescharb sauce/ be it with almonds or apples/ with onions chopped together and browned/ mixed with butter/ yellow and nicely sour/ with small black raisins/ and good beef broth/ that is not oversalted/ take browned flour into it/ and let them simmer together. And when the rabbit is roasted/ than cut it into the gescharb/ let it simmer together/ like this it becomes well tasting and good. And such a rabbit one can roast/ and in apple slices or in an almond gescharb sauce/ and let cook together/ or make in (a sauce) with (large) raisins nicely sweet/ then it is good and well tasting


  • Rumpolt is a German source dated to 1581 (Holloway 15), which means many of the techniques and certain ingredients used are Renaissance in nature rather than medieval. For instance, a number of recipes for turkey, a recipe which might be for potatoes (but probably isn’t), and recipes for flour-thickened sauces are all included.
  • Gescharb is a German word meaning pottery bowl (Bach 182), and from the four recipes quoted, refers to a sauce consisting of onions cooked in butter, which may or may not be browned; optional apples or almonds; raisins, broth, optional flour, and optional spices and vinegar. This gives the cook a lot of leeway to make a sauce that suits both their taste and the roast meat to be finished and/or served with that sauce. I chose to base the sauce on deeply browned onions and raisins, omitting the apples and almonds, with browned flour thickening and only a small amount of vinegar to counterbalance the sweetness.  The sauce in all of these cases seems to be served under the meat, which is slightly unusual by modern standards, and no garnishes are specified although other recipes specify sprinkling with salt, sugar, spices, or parsley.
  • A note on browned flour – “eyngebrennt” or “eingebrennt” – in researching the history of roux, I found that “einbren” is a roux precursor that is still used in modern German / Jewish cooking (Marks 115). (The modern / literal meaning of the word is baked flour.) Flour is deeply browned, often in largish batches, without fat – this gives a nutty flavor and about half the thickening power of a light roux, but can be stored for future use.  Flour-bound sauces seem to become common in Germany earlier than in the rest of Europe – in fact, there’s a recipe for a “flour bound” pepper sauce with roux in the 1486 edition of Küchenmeisterei. 

Also, pea patties nicely and gently fried and served in a pepper sauce made with toasted fine white bread and salted to the right measure; try it.
If you want to make a flour-bound pepper sauce quickly, fry flour in fat, not too strongly, temper it with wine, season it and make it yellow. Fry the pea patties as described above and pour the pepper sauce over them. If you have small, boiled raisins, add them to the pepper sauce, be it made with water or with wine – Küchenmeisterei, 2.lviii–lxi
(Bach 135)

  • Other browned-flour sauces are found in the Inntalkochbuch, a late 15th / early 16th century Bavarian monastic cookbook (Bach “Old Recipes from the Bavarian Inntal”).

Pork with Onion Gravy


  • Roast Pork
  • 3 lbs pork shoulder

  • kosher salt

  • 3-4 large cloves garlic

  • Brown Flour
  • 2 cups all purpose flour

  • Sauce
  • 3 sweet onions

  • 1 stick butter

  • 2-3 cups beef broth.

  • 1/2 cup “zante currants” (actually tiny raisins)

  • about 1/2 cup browned flour

  • 1/2 tsp pepper

  • 1/4 tsp saffron

  • red wine vinegar to taste.


  • Roast Pork
  • Rub meat with salt and garlic the night before cooking. (This early marinade is described several places in Rumpolt.)
  • Roast over hardwood charcoal to internal temperature of 150° – this makes for a tender pork, ready to be finished in the Gescharb.
  • Brown flour
  • Heat cast iron pan to hot but not smoking.
  • Cook flour, stirring constantly, until nutty and brown. Do not burn or it will taste terrible.
  • Make sauce
  • Chop onions, deeply brown in butter. Add raisins and allow to caramelize slightly.
  • Slowly add flour, stirring well to avoid clumping – texture should be a medium paste around the onions.
  • Add broth slowly, stirring constantly, and bring to a simmer to make medium-thickness gravy.
  • Add pepper, saffron and red wine vinegar to taste.
  • Keep at low simmer, do not boil.
  • Finish dish
  • Cut meat into bite size pieces.
  • Add to simmering sauce and continue to cook until meat is at 165°-170° and falling apart.
  • Check sauce for salt/spicing.
  • Serve with garnish of additional raisins and pepper.


Bach, Volker. Old Recipes from the Bavarian Inntal. Accessed 10 Mar. 2020.
Bach, Volker. The Kitchen, Food, and Cooking in Reformation Germany. Rowman & Littlefield, 2016.
Holloway, JK. “German Medieval Cookery and Cookbooks.” The Gauntlet, no. 1, 2011.
Marks, Gil. The World of Jewish Cooking. Simon & Schuster, 2006.
Marx Rumpolt. Ein New Kochbuch. Translated by Sharon A. Palmer, 1581,
Myers, Daniel. “Currants.” Medieval Cookery, 2012,

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