Potjiekos dates to the 1500s and is a great example of traditional South African cuisine. The dish is packed with a variety of ingredients; the basics like meat and vegetables, all layered in a round cast-iron pot and placed on open coals.
The best meat for potjiekos is stewing beef, but venison, mutton, chicken and even fish make ideal potjiekos options too.
It’s important to layer your ingredients when cooking a potjie. Add the meat first and seal properly.
Veggies should be stacked on top of the meat, in order of their cooking times. Add more liquid and leave to cook. Don’t stir a potjie until it’s ready to be served.
Everything should then be wonderfully soft, tender and juicy. The difference between a potjie and a stew is that a potjie is never stirred during the cooking process. Once you have built your potjie and popped on the lid, you will not lift it again until it’s time to dish up!
In rare cases, and usually only when you suspect something has gone wrong, will you lift the lid and see what needs to be added. In such cases, it’s normally because the potjie is running dry and needs more liquid. This is then gently poured down the sides on the inside of the pot, and never in the middle of the food.
Chicken and vegetable potjiekos
- 12 chicken thighs.
- 1 packet of chopped streaky bacon.
- 2 finely chopped onions.
- 45ml cooking oil.
- 5ml butter.
- 6 drumsticks.
- 1 chopped carrot.
- 3 sticks of chopped celery.
- Baby corn.
- 5 sage leaves.
- 3 sprigs thyme.
- 250ml cream.
- Crushed garlic.
- 250ml chicken stock.
- 250ml wine (optional).
- Peeled baby carrots.
- Thickly sliced baby marrows (6 pieces).
- 250g button mushrooms.
- Prepare the fire and place the potjie pot on with oil and butter in it.
- Place the chicken thighs inside. Once brown, remove them.
- Add the bacon in the pot, fry it until cooked. Add the onions, celery, carrots and garlic and cook until soft.
- Add the chicken back to the pot. Add the chicken stock and the wine.
- Let the dish cook for one hour. Add the herbs and vegetables.
- Cover the pot. On top of the lid, add hot coals. This allows the meal to cook evenly. Let it cook for around 40 minutes.
- Avoid stirring the dish. Next, add the cream, stir gently and continue cooking for about 20 minutes.
- Add the seasoning.
- Serve hot with fluffy rice or freshly baked bread.