There is just something about a hearty stew made in a potjie (cast iron pot) over an open fire. The ritual of making and tending to the fire, the smoke infusion, the simplicity – it is an experience and a crowd pleasing meal to boot. Cooking a ‘potjiekos’, be it at home or when camping, takes time – and is a real glory job for the responsible cook.
That said, the potjie stew is simple, and pretty much fool proof if you follow basic guidelines.
So here it is, our Simply Delicious Potjiekos Recipe – tried and tested, and adapted over the years. This recipe is suited to a No.2 (6L) pot to feed 4 persons. It is pretty much a meal in one, but you could always serve with freshly baked bread, corn bread etc.
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp Italian herbs
1 tsp origanum
1/2 tsp ginger
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cumin
2 beef & veg stock cubes
- 600 g lamb (neck, ribs, etc.)
1 green/red pepper
2 celery stalks
3 large carrots
500 g cubed butternut
200 g green beans
tin chopped tomatoes
baby potatoes or 4 large potatoes chopped
- Cup of red wine
Use wood, charcoal or briquettes (or a combination) and get the fire going while doing the prep on the ingredients for the potjie.
You’ll need enough room to keep a fire going at least 30 cm away from the potjie, you’ll be raking coals across to under the potjie from this fire. Keep some fuel in reserve to keep the fire going for 2-3 hours.
The potjie itself needs to be above the hot coals – so a 3-legged potjie or potjie hook is best.
Place four or five good size coals under the potjie to heat the oil.
Once the oil is hot, add the meat (if applicable) and braise well.
Add the the rest of the ingredients in the following order, in layers, those that cook faster first:
Tin chopped tomatoes
Cup of red wine
Close the lid of the potjie pot.
The stew will now have to cook for 2-3 hours. Open the lid every 15-20 minutes or so to hear whether it is still cooking way nicely, and at the same time you could wave in some of the smoke from the fire to add flavour.
Don’t stir during the cooking process, and don’t panic – as long as the fire is not too hot the veggie juices will prevent burning.
If it sounds as if the stew is not boiling, add a few coals to increase the temperature under the pot.
After a couple of hours, poke the potatoes with a fork – if they are soft then the potjie is done. Give it a quick stir with a spoon and serve!