With Winter now in full swing, Your South African Shop thought it perfect timing for a good South African Potjie. What could be better than spending an afternoon with family and friends, sharing this delicious meal?
A FEW INTERESTING FACTS
The word Potjiekos directly translates to English as ‘pot food’. This delicious dish consists of a combination of a variety of ingredients, typically of meat and vegetables, layered in a cast-iron pot and placed on open coals. Dating back to the 1500’s, this style of cooking epitomizes South African cuisine, and is rivalled only by the ever-popular braai. In 1652 when the Dutch settlers arrived in the Cape, they brought with them their tradition of cooking in cast-iron pots. As the pots retain heat extremely well, these containers were ideal, and allowed food to simmer for hours on end, resulting in tender roasts and stews. They also used the pots to store meat until next they need to cook.
A FEW TIPS TO PREPARE A DELICIOUS WHOLESOME MEAL:
- Stewing beef is the best and most popular meat to make a potjie. However, venison, mutton, fish and chicken also make an ideal potjie.
- Ingredients should be layered when making a potjie. This is important due to the variation in cooking times for different ingredients.
- Meat should always be added first, and properly sealed.
- Once the meat is almost cooked, add onions, garlic herbs and a liquid stock. A dash of red wine here is perfect.
- In order of their cooking times, stack veggies on top of the meat, and add a little more ‘liquid’.
- Cover and allow to cook.
- Remember, a ‘potjie’ should only be stirred once ready to serve.
REMEMBER, ‘BREAKING IN’ A NEW POT IS A MUST
It is essential to ‘break in’ your new pot by first eliminating any iron tastes and possible residue. Scour the inside of the pot with sandpaper and then wash and grease with fat. Then cook a mixture of leftover or old veggies in the pot for a few hours. Rinse with warm soapy water and you are ready to go!
WHAT SHOULD YOU USE FOR THE FIRE?
You can use either charcoal or wood for the fire. Make sure that heat can be regulated. This you can do by either adding or removing coals once the potjie is cooking. Remember to start the fire well in advance. A potjie needs to cook for a few hours to enjoy a scrumptious meal.
(Use a No 2-sized Pot which serves 4-6)
250g Bacon (chopped up)
1Kg Button or Brown Mushrooms
2 Cloves Garlic – crushed or finely grated
250ml Hot Beef Stock (Or Red Wine)
750ml Rice – cooked 750g
100g Parmesan Cheese – finely grated (not the powder you buy in the store please. Use freshy grated from a wedge of beautiful real cheese!)
Few sprigs of thyme – leaves picked off the stalks
200g Cheddar Cheese - grated
Use a No. 2 size potjie (Serves 4 – 6)
Start your fire, allowing coals to become medium/hot. Preheat your potjie over the coals. Melt the butter in the bottom of the potjie. Add the chopped onions and bacon and sauté till the onions are limp & translucent and the bacon is cooked. Add the mushrooms & garlic and sauté till the liquid has evaporated and they start to go light brown. Add the beef stock (or red wine) and thyme. Add the cooked rice and the sliced biltong in layers – a layer of rice, a layer of biltong until all used up. Add half of the parmigiano reggiano cheese and then add the cheddar cheese in one layer on top.
Cover with the lid and allow to stand for 5-10minutes over low heat coals. If the fire is too hot, at this stage the rice will start to burn. When the cheese has melted remove the potjie from the heat, set aside and leave to stand for about half an hour for the flavours to develop. Just before serving use a large wooden spoon to gently stir the potjie so that all the layers are mixed together and evenly distributed. Sprinkle over the rest of the grated parmigiano reggiano cheese and serve with a salad and freshly baked pot bread.