Essentially, a perfect potjie is made up of four components. Once you understand these, it becomes easy to mix and match ingredients to suit your palate.
Where possible, choose cuts meant for long slow cooking. Bone-in meat cuts are ideal as they tend to be extra flavour some.
Beef: Short ribs, shin and goulash are top picks.
Chicken: Bone-in thighs, wings and feet are great choices.
Lamb: Try to use knuckles, shanks or shoulder.
Pork: Neck, shin and shoulder work well.
Onions, carrots, celery and leeks are generally fried with aromatics (herb and spices) first, as these become the flavour base of your potjie. Remember that vegetables like butternut and pumpkin, which need longer to cook, should be added before the more tender veg. Softer vegetables like green beans, mini corn and mushrooms, which have a shorter cooking time, should be added towards the end.
*LAYER LIKE A PRO. Be sure to layer elements carefully. Ingredients that require a longer cooking time should be added in first.*
A starch acts as a sponge for all the delicious sauce that’s spent hours developing in flavour. Regular potatoes are a great choice, but you could also use regular or orange sweet potatoes, risoni, basmati rice or baby potatoes. The starch doesn’t always have to be included in the pot itself – it can also be served on the side. Think crusty bread, mashed potato, pap or a homemade potbrood.
Most people use stock or water, but there are also more creative ways to build flavour with liquid. Try adding tomato purée, canned chopped tomatoes or coconut milk. Remember that vegetables contain water as well, so don’t add to much liquid as veggies will cook down and create their own “sauce”.
POTJIE POT RULES
Taking care of your cast-iron pot is vital. If you’re cooking in a new pot, make sure to do the following first:
1) Wash the pot with hot, soapy water and scrub clean. Leave to dry.
2) Coat the inside of the pot with cooking oil and heat until the oil smokes.
3) Allow to cool.
4) Wipe the inside of the pot using kitchen paper.
5) Repeat the process until kitchen paper comes out clean and there is no more black residue.
For storage, coat the inside of the potjie with cooking oil as this will prevent the pot from rusting.