Cold weather food

Cold weather food
Wet winter weather, cold days, and colder nights are conducive to enjoying a good potjie (pronounced poy-kie) cooked over open coals. "Potjiekos" is the official term for this traditional meal.

"Potjie" is an Afrikaans word meaning "little pot", interpreted in this context as a cast-iron pot. The idea is that one places the pot over a few coals and adds meat, onion, herbs and spices, letting them simmer until the meat is nicely browned. You can then add vegetables in layers (this allows the vegetables to keep their individual flavour so that you don't end up with veggie-mush), starting with harder vegetables like carrots and baby-marrow, and then working your way up from butternut and cauliflower, through to cabbage and potato pieces right at the end. Keeping the potato near the top of the stack is kinda important - otherwise you'll end up with mushy potato at the bottom of the pot.

Note the following critical success factors:

  1. don't even think of stirring the vegetables
  2. don't peek under the lid until quite some time has passed (like an hour or so)
  3. when you do peek, check that the meat and onion at the bottom aren't burning
  4. you shouldn't need to add water (this isn't soup or a stew ;) )
  5. if the potatoes on top are cooked and there's still a whole lot of liquid in the pot, leave the lid off so that it can boil away

Once the potatoes are cooked, and the liquid (drawn from the veggies) has cooked away, your potjie should be ready to eat. Oh, and like a typical guy, I forgot to mention: remember to cook some rice before the pot is ready... :)

I'd be interested to know if any of our readers have ever tried cooking a vegetarian potjie. Please leave a comment if you have - I'd love to know what one can use as a substitute for meat at the bottom of the pot.

5 thoughts on “Cold weather food

  1. Firefly

    My mouth is actually watering and we just had dinner. I think its time to do a potjie again. The veg potjie idea sounds good and what to put at the bottom does intrigue me a bit. I’ll ask around.

  2. Beverley

    Well what a coincidence as this evening I made a Spiced Lamb Pot with the spices I bought back from Cape Town…Lamb/veg/potatoes/spices all done in layers with different spices at each level.

    It was delicious but I didn’t have a lovely open fire like this to cook it on and neither do I have one of these super looking cast-iron pots…

    Great photo!!

  3. mjw

    I’ve only had a vegetarian one once, as far as I remember. It was many years ago as part of a team-building exercise (I won’t go into that story…). One of the team members professed to being an expert and pretty commandeered the cooking, tossing the rest of us out the way.

    The result? YUCK.

    I’m, therefore, quite keen to try it done properly, as I don’t think she knew what she was doing.

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