Potjiekos is Afrikaans for small pot food. It’s cooked outdoors in a Potjie, a descendent of the Dutch Oven. I shared a little about the small pot last year in a Potjie Spirit Week post.
For our Cast Iron Journey this year, I wanted to find a good Potjiekos recipe to share, but I have to tell you a little secret… Potjiekos is cooked from the heart, and after trying a few “recipes” I was convinced that it’s just not the way to go. The beauty of a potjie is that there are a few guidelines to know and you grow from there. So here are some things I’ve learned about producing flavor in the small pot.
- Bone-in is a plus when it comes to choosing your meat
- Braising your meat first will only be a benefit to you later
- After you braise your meat, take it out and start your onions and garlic. Once they are soft add in your spices to simmer together. Choose spices that offer a depth of flavor- some of our favorites are Smoked Paprika, Cumin, a favorite BBQ or Garlic blend, along with some good herbs, Oregano, Basil, and Salt and Pepper etc.
- Once those spices are getting nice and fragrant build your stock with some tomato puree or sauce and some broth. You don’t want to add too much moisture because you will be cooking with the lid on and you don’t want to lose your flavor. You can always add more liquid during the cooking process. I know a lot of recipes that call for water, but I prefer broth every time.
- Add your meat back in and let it cook. Last time, I added some chopped dates into this part to help add in a little bit of sweetness to take out the acidity of the tomato and it worked like a charm. I also added some red wine to my base stock.
- After your meat has been cooking for awhile, then you can think about adding your harder veg like baby or squared potatoes, carrots, and root veg.
- Your last addition will be your soft veg. Things like marrow or zucchini, peas or green beans.
- During the adding stages, don’t over-stir your potjiekos- you’ll end up with mashed veg.
As my sister said this past week, “Let your dreams be your wings.” Take some time to think of what you like and build a recipe. Next week, I’ll give you the one that we have loved the most, but always remember, your taste buds and experience cooking your own food the way that you like it can be the greatest help in building a potjie from the heart.
Until next time, keep cooking in Cast Iron! <3 Kate
For more about our Cast Iron Journey and to find our Kitchen Tallow, make a stop here!
What’s in store for the next few weeks on the journey? Why not try some Uum Ali cooked in Cast Iron for a stop over in Egypt.