The South African WayBeing American, South Africa has brought on quite a few changes over the years! Some changes have been horrendous and were not taken lightly or without fighting! However, some changes, such as the introduction to a whole pot full of different cultures foods, have been welcomed with open arms (and mouths!!) I have truly enjoyed the thrill of experiencing true Boere kos (translation is silly but it is Afrikaans traditional foods) like malva pudding, Sunday dinner, braai, and especially POTJIE!! The first time I had potjie I thought it was the worst thing I'd ever tasted! Then again it was made with oxtail (another first for me) and I wasn't so fond of the taste of meats in South Africa at the time! But after a few tries and adjustment, I have learned to love this little bit of tradition!
I thought, in a lovely, sentimental way, I'd share some information about what is potjie kos and why it is so vital that EVERYONE try it!!
Potjie kos comes from around the 17th or 18th centries when the Voortrekkers were settling in South Africa. Although the black tribes had already begun using cast iron pots to cook in after learning from Portugese colonist and Arab traders, it was the Voortrekkers who made it into the tradition it is today. A cast iron pot needs relatively low amounts of coals to maintain heat and any substance that makes coals (charcoal or wood) can be used as the smell of the item burnt does not get into the meat. This made it ideal for cooking while traveling through the country. The concept is that everything is cooked in one pot (translation potjie kos- small pot food). Your meat and what ever vegetables you use are all thrown in and simmered.
|It is essential to prepare vegetables and meat ahead of time so that it is ready when needed to be added!!|
This sounds easy enough right?? HOWEVER!! South Africans are very particular about their potjie. Firstly, it is not to be stirred! You cook your meat with whatever onion, garlic, and/or herbs you choose in a little bit of oil at the bottom of the pot. That can be stirred to get a brown sauteed effect. After that the vegetables are to be added in layers as the time passes to allow proper cooking. You do NOT stir once adding the vegetables! For instance if you were making an oxtail pot. Your meat is finished and left at the bottom. Next you could add potatoes and carrots because the cook the longest. Then you would add items like pan pans and baby marrow later so they don't cook away!
|My hubby ensuring that everything is just right with our pots!!|
So the basics....
Start your fire and give it enough time to have the coals ready.
Cook your meat.
Layer your vegetables accordingly. You do not put all the vegetables in at once. Place them in only to allow the necessary cook time.
Add very little water if necessary.
Before serving add sauce and allow to simmer!
Served over rice, bread, samp, or some use pasta!
Again, I know it sounds simple but this is one of those things that takes years of practice to perfect! It is truly a hobby around here! Relate our passion for potjie to the American passion for Chili! We do even have potjie cook offs too!!
You can find great recipes at Potjiekos World
Beef and Vegetable Potjie
1 kg stewing beef
15 ml cooking oil
5 ml salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 clove garlic (crushed)
2 onions (coarsely chopped)
8-10 baby potatos washed
3 carrots (sliced)
300 g cauliflower florets
4 baby marrows (sliced)
1 punnet mushrooms (sliced)
1 pkt Cream of Mushroom soup
250ml Fresh Cream
Cube or slice meat.
Add garlic and onion and saute until onion is transparent.
Heat oil in potjie and brown meat, then season with salt and pepper.
Begin with baby potatos. Allow enough time to begin to get tender. Check with fork.
Add baby marrow and mushrooms.
Ensure that your vegetables do not cook away. Continually check the tenderness of the vegetables!
Cover and simmer for about 1 hours.
10 minutes before serving mix soup and cream and add to pot.
Serve over rice or freshly baked bread.
Other vegetables to try...baby corn, broccoli, patty pans, cabbage/ brusselsprouts.