A brief Potjiekos history
Potjiekos (“Pot Food” translated into English) is traditionally cooked over open coals in a black three legged cast iron pot three-legged pot. The cast iron pots (the potjie) were brought from the Netherlands to South Africa in the 1600’s and are now found in many of homes of people throughout southern Africa. Potjiekos has been part of South African life since the first settlement at the Cape. In the early settlement days food was typically cooked in an open hearth cast iron pots with legs so that coals could be scraped under the pots to maintain a consistent low heat.
To cook Potjie the pot is heated and food cooked slowly by only using a small amount of fuel (wood, charcoal or even twigs, grass etc.). A “potjie event” is often more about the social gathering of friends than the food. Since the event usually takes half a day it provides a good opportunity to have a fun time with friends! Potjie cooking can also be very competitive and there are many Potjie competitions throughout the country.
Ingredients for a basic Potjie:
- Stewing meat (lamb, mutton and chicken are favorites)
- An assortment of vegetables (carrots, tomatoes, potatoes, turnips etc)
- Meat stock
- Place your pot over a low heat fire, add oil into the pot and heat, add chopped onion and brown, add meat and brown.
- Add meat stock to cover the meat, replace lid. Cook for 1 hour (or more), tending the fire carefully to keep consistent on a low heat.
- Add chopped vegetables in layers from the longest to cook to the shortest.
- Cook until done through (can be anywhere from an hour to several hours depending on heat of fire, size of Potjie, type of meat, personal preference etc.)
- Flavor with salt, pepper and other spices.
- Serve with rice or pap (you can also cook the rice or add potatoes to the Potjie itself).