Slow, easy over the coals - recipes

By Angela Day Time of article published Apr 7, 2016

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Angela Day


For those who have never been introduced to a potjie, it is a three-legged, black, cast-iron pot used for cooking stews and other food.

The heat source for cooking can either be a charcoal fire underneath the pot or a gas bottle fitted with a special potjie attachment.

However you cook it, a potjie is a meal cooked long and slow.

This pastime seems to be the domain of men who love gathering around the pot and discussing its ingredients and the merits thereof.

While preparing these recipes, I found out just how heavy these pots are and decided that’s why it’s a man’s pastime.

I cooked my recipes on a gas ring and found it a challenge to regulate the gas so that it was low enough. If the mixture boils too ferociously, the liquid evaporates too quickly.

With a fire potjie, you need to make sure that you have a hot enough fire to sustain the long cooking time.

Whichever method you use, regulating the heat will determine the success or failure of your potjie.

Remember to store your potjie pot well washed and rubbed all over with a bit of oil to prevent it from rusting. I also suggest giving it a good wash before using again.

With the cooler weather approaching it is the ideal time to bring out the potjie and enjoy a relaxing day watching and waiting for a delicious meal to be ready.


Lamb potjie

Serves 4-6

250g pkt of bacon bits

olive oil for frying

2 red onions, sliced

10ml chopped garlic

1kg lamb neck

salt and pepper

375ml chicken

or lamb stock

375ml white wine

a sprig of fresh rosemary

a few sprigs of thyme

2 large carrots,

peeled and sliced

4 potatoes, washed

and chopped

250g green beans, trimmed and cut into 5cm lengths

1 packet of mushroom soup

water to mix

Fry the bacon in the heated pot until lightly browned.

Add a little oil and the onions and garlic and cook until the onions are soft. Remove from the pot and set aside.

Add more oil to the pot and cook the meat in batches until nicely browned. Season well with salt and pepper.

Add the stock, wine and herbs and simmer covered for about an hour. Add the carrots and potatoes and simmer for another hour.

Return the onion and bacon mixture to the pot with the beans.

Mix the soup powder with some cold water to make a runny paste and stir this into the mixture.

Cover and cook for 15-20 minutes until the mixture has thickened and the beans are soft.


Chicken and vegetable potjie

Serves 8-10

45ml olive oil

12 chicken thighs

salt and pepper

6 cloves

45ml fresh thyme leaves

250ml white wine

1 litre of chicken stock

3 carrots, peeled and sliced

300g baby button mushrooms

250g courgettes, sliced

300g broccoli, cut in florets

250ml frozen peas

1 packet of mushroom soup powder mixed with 125ml cold water

Heat the oil in a large pot, season the chicken and brown in batches.

Return the chicken to the pot with the cloves, thyme and wine. Cook for5 minutes.

Add the chicken stock and cook for 30 minutes.

Add the carrots, button mushrooms and courgettes and cook for a further 30 minutes.

Add the broccoli, peas and soup and cook for 10-15 minutes, until all the veggies are tender and sauce has thickened.


Beef and venison potjie

Serves 10-12

1kg venison cubes

1kg beef shin, cubed

60ml seasoned cake flour

oil for frying

salt and black pepper

15ml juniper berries (optional)

400g tin of mushroom soup

500ml apple juice

250ml red wine

4 potatoes, washed and cubed

4-5 carrots, peeled and sliced

4 onions, chopped

250g butternut, cubed

4 ripe tomatoes, skinned and chopped

chopped parsley

for serving

Lightly toss the meat in the flour. Heat the oil in the pot and cook the meat in batches until browned.

Add the juniper berries, mushroom soup, apple juice and red wine.

Season well and simmer, covered, for 1-2 hours.

Top up the liquid if necessary using water or beef stock. Add all the vegetables and season again. Cover and simmer until the vegetables are soft.

Serve sprinkled with parsley.


Pork and cider potjie

Serves 8-10

250g bacon bits

2kg pork belly, fat trimmed and cut into chunks

2 large onions, chopped

2-3 carrots, peeled and diced

2-3 stalks of celery, chopped

10ml fennel seeds

2x330ml dry cider

250ml chicken stock

generous handful

of sage leaves

salt and black pepper

grated rind and juice of 1 lemon

toasted bread to serve

Fry the bacon until lightly browned.

Cook the meat in batches until browned. Remove and set aside.

To the pot, add the onion, carrot, celery and fennel and cook for 10-15 minutes.

Return the meat to the pot with the bacon.

Add the cider, stock and sage. Season well.

Cover and cook for 2-3 hours or until the meat is meltingly tender and the sauce has reduced and thickened.

Stir in the lemon rind and juice and serve.


Fruity duck potjie

Serves 4-6

1 duck, cut into portions and trimmed of excess fat

1 large onion, chopped

10ml chopped garlic

30ml chopped ginger

1-2 carrots, chopped

1 green pepper, cut into strips

2-3 stalks of celery, chopped

1 pineapple, peeled and chopped

250g baby potatoes

500ml chicken stock

45ml soy sauce

15ml white wine vinegar

15ml brown sugar

salt and black pepper

125g fresh gooseberries

1 bunch of spring onions,

sliced diagonally

Brown the duck portions in batches in the pot. Make sure they are well browned and that the fat has rendered out. Remove and set aside.

Add the onion, garlic, ginger, carrots, pepper, celery and pineapple to the pot and fry for a few minutes.

Add the potatoes and mix through.

Return the duck to the pot and add the stock, soy sauce, vinegar, sugar and seasoning.

Cover and allow to cook until the duck is tender, about 2-3 hours.

Remove the duck portions from the pot and allow to cool slightly. Shred the meat off the bones and return the meat to the pot.

Stir in the gooseberries and cook for 10-15 minutes.

Serve sprinkled with sliced spring onions.


* The Angela Day cookery column is published in The Star, the Cape Argus, the Daily News and the Pretoria News.

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