Eergister se potjiekos is vandag se ontbyt.
~ kykNETtv ~
If you still don’t know – potjiekos is a traditional South African dish cooked in a cast-iron pot over an open fire. It is old fashioned slow cooking and has the added benefit of feeding a crowd. There are also always leftovers that taste even better the next day. So my quote for this post means the potjiekos you made the day before yesterday is good for today’s breakfast! The expert potjiekos maker in our house is my husband Peter. His speciality potjie is a Moroccan Lamb Potjie which he first made for a work potjiekos competition (i.e. a cook-off). I am pleased to announce that this post will be authored by him – the first Melby’s Post Guest Blog!
We’ll prepare and serve with flair
As the guest blogger I wanted to add my own quote: ” To stir is human.” I’m attributing this to Chuckzoo in this 4×4 community thread although I’m sure the idea (if not the phrasing) has occurred to many people. The thread deals with the question of stirring potjiekos through 82 comments from 4×4 enthusiasts. Be sure to read all of it if you are uncertain of whether or not to stir.
I also need to mention that while this is the first guest blog it’s not the first potjiekos recipe – if you like this recipe you should also check out the Curry Chicken Potjie.
Don’t believe me? Ask the dishes
The first thing you will need for potjiekos is the potjie. I think it’s worth buying a potjie in a shop to make sure the lid has a good fit. I have tried a few types of pots. My favorite is a smallish, flat bottomed pot with straight sides – the one on the left in the image below. We got this one from our local SPAR – there’s a whole rage from LK’s. The middle pot is the one I have used most often. This is a FALKIRK 8B “dutch oven” and it makes a lot of food. These are great for office events. I don’t like the pots with feet – they are tricky to transport and if you end up needing to finish (or reheat) the potjie on the stove the feet are a nuisance. This does mean I need a separate tripod. I have a sturdy one that isn’t collapsible.
Pots need some basic care – before use I like to rinse mine out with boiling water and dry, then coat the inside with cooking oil and heat it until oil begins to smoke. Then clean it out with a paper towel. After use I wash and dry the pot. I prefer to dry it in the sun. Finally coat the pot with cooking oil before storing. While writing this I learnt that the pot should be stored with the lid off and absorbent paper inside of pot. I have never done this but I suspect this might be why I need to clean mine out with boiling water every time I use it.
Wine’s been poured and thank the Lord
It’s important to select the right wine for potjiekos. It’s fine to start with beer while you make the fire and fry the meat. Once you start cooking you will need some wine to keep the whole process correctly lubricated. Personally I really enjoy Boplaas Tinta Barocca while making the potjie. To serve with the potjie I recommend The Chocolate Block from Boekenhoutskloof. Photographic evidence shows we have also tried Fairview’s Goats do Roam, Nederburg Baronne, HPF Skoonma, Rupert and Rothschild Classique and The Stellenbosch Reserve Vanderstel with some success. Note: do not add wine to the Moroccan Lamb Potjie.
I’ll be bubbling, I’ll be brewing
Half the fun of potjiekos is trying to make the perfect fire. I like to start off with a wood fire. I prefer sekelbos but any wood that makes coals is fine. A hot fire is essential when frying the meat. Once the meat is browned the fire needs to be a bit cooler so I add charcoal briquettes to keep it going. The fire needs to last at least three hours from when you start so it’s best to keep adding charcoal starting early. The trick is not to add too many briquettes at once. If you do the fire gets too hot and you end up with burnt food. If you think the fire is getting too hot you can move some of the coals to the side.
It can be tricky to get the charcoal going if the fire gets cold. If you are adding briquettes but there’s not enough heat you can build a new fire and transfer the potjie there . This also works well to get the heat higher at the end when you want to serve the food.
Moroccan Lamb Potjie
- Cast-iron pot
For the fire
- 1 bag sekelbos
- 1 bag charcoal briquettes
- 1 packet firelighters
- 3 - 6 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 large onion, roughly chopped
- 1 kg stewing lamb See note
- 3 tbsp Moroccan spice or Ras el hanout
- 200 g tomato paste
- 3 tins tomatoes, chopped or whole
- 500 g baby potatoes, washed
- 250 g carrots, in 3 cm chunks
- 250 g patty pans, washed and halved
- 250 g baby marrows, in 3 cm chunks
- 250 g white button mushrooms, cleaned
- ½ - 1 L warm water or stock
- handful of dried apricots (optional)
- salt and pepper to taste
- sweetener to taste sugar, honey or chutney works well
- Place your cast-iron pot on the coals and let it warm up very well (at least 5 to 10 minutes).1 bag sekelbos, 1 packet firelighters, 1 bag charcoal briquettes
- Add vegetable oil to the pot and a handful of chopped onion. Let the onion fry until well browned - discard these onions as they just flavour the oil and season the pot.3 - 6 tbsp vegetable oil, 1 large onion, roughly chopped
- Add the lamb in batches and fry until well browned, adding more oil if necessary. Remove from the pot and reserve.1 kg stewing lamb
- Add the remaining chopped onion to the pot as well as the Moroccan spice or Ras el hanout. Fry the onion and spices until fragrant but don't let it get too brown. You can achieve this by moving the pot to a colder part of the fire or by stirring continuously.1 large onion, roughly chopped, 3 tbsp Moroccan spice or Ras el hanout
- Return the browned lamb pieces to the pot and mix well with the onion mixture. Season with salt and pepper.1 kg stewing lamb
- Add the tomato paste and tins of tomato. Stir to disperse the tomato paste and to break up the whole tomatoes if you are using them.200 g tomato paste, 3 tins tomatoes, chopped or whole
- Put the lid on the pot and leave to simmer on the fire for one to one and a half hours. Check on the contents every 30 minutes or so and add some warm water or stock if the meat is no longer covered with liquid.½ - 1 L warm water or stock
- Remove the lid and stir the pot lightly, checking that nothing is catching on the bottom.
- Add the potatoes and carrots or any other starchy veggies. Check that there is enough liquid to cover the veggies by adding warm water or stock as necessary. Replace the lid and let the pot simmer for another 30 minutes.500 g baby potatoes, washed, 250 g carrots, in 3 cm chunks
- Add the patty pans, baby marrows and dried apricots if using. The softer veggies do not have to be covered in liquid as they will cook by steam. There has to be sufficient liquid in the pot to produce a thick sauce or gravy though. Replace the lid and cook for about 20 minutes.250 g patty pans, washed and halved, 250 g baby marrows, in 3 cm chunks, handful of dried apricots (optional)
- Remove the lid and lightly stir the pot. Sample the sauce and add salt, pepper and sweetener to taste. Add a little warm water or stock if too much of the liquid has cooked off.salt and pepper to taste, sweetener to taste
- Add the button mushrooms and stir through. Let the pot simmer for another 10 to 15 minutes. At this stage you can leave the lid off if the sauce is still quite thin. Letting the pot simmer without the lid will let the liquid reduce and the sauce will thicken.250 g white button mushrooms, cleaned
- Once all the veggies are soft, the lamb is falling off the bone, and the sauce has thickened, serve the potjiekos on rice or couscous.
- A combination of cut-up lamb shank and cubes of leg of lamb is the tastiest, but quite expensive. Stewing lamb or specially marked packs of potjie lamb work well too.