Nothing brings South Africans together quite like a potjie, simmering away gently for hours – and nothing divides them as fast as someone trying to stir it. We asked for your all-time best potjie tips over on Facebook, and the advice was just too good not to share. Any more ideas? Feel free to bombard us in the comments!
Try our best potjie recipes:
- Favourite oxtail potjie recipe
- Chicken, mushroom and biltong potjie recipe
- Beef trinchado potjie recipe
- Yes, you can make pasta puttanesca in a potjie
- How to make carrot cake in a potjie
1. Put down that spoon
This is the first, fundamental rule for potjie cooking, which was by far the most popular tip from readers. (We like your priorities.) As phrased by Donald Pittendrigh: ‘Pack in layers and never, ever stir.’
2. It’s all about the seasoning
There’s a reason old potjie pots are the best. Hans Hannweg’s advice is to find a friend with a well-seasoned potjie which is really smooth, and to present them with a brand new one by means of exchange to demonstrate your friendship. (Parting with an old favourite is a pretty big display of friendship in our book – would you give yours up?)
3. Place your coals carefully
According to Michael J. Wilcox, the best way to avoid burning your potjie is to make sure that there are no coals under the lowest point of the potjie. Keep the heat just outside of the legs and the radiant heat will do the rest.
4. It’s all about the pairings
‘Don’t underestimate the power of a good cut of venison paired with fruit,’ says Claudia Henriques Delmont. Her favourite is springbok with the sweetness of apricots soaked in OBS – sounds like a killer combo!
5. Nominate one potato as tribute
Peet Buys has a nifty trick for knowing when the potjie is done: ‘leave one potato out and put this right at the top of the pot. When this potato is done, the rest of the pot should be done too.’
6. There’s more than one way to soften meat
Usually you’d add red wine to a red meat potjie – but Jessica Müller says that the absolute best way to tenderise meat is to add Coca-Cola. Now you know.
7. Boiling is forbidden
The whole point of a potjie is to cook over a low heat for a long time. A number of readers offered pithy aphorisms for the importance of low heat – ‘your pot should whisper, never boil,’ said Nasika Arthi Baijnath. Even more succinct was Pete Mafutha’s advice: ‘a boiled stew is a soiled stew.’ Harsh but true.
8. It’s all about enriching
‘Add a good dollop of real butter half an hour before serving,’ says Jo Adams. In French cuisine, this is referred to as ‘mounter au beurre.’ We just call it delicious.
9. Keep it merry – but not too merry
According to our readers, it’s important that both the potjie and the potjie master have some alcohol in them at all times. Linda Dillon has a simple three-part rule: ‘Don’t add too much liquid. Don’t stir. Keep calm and drink.’ We also like the counter-advice from Alwyn Bosman, who says, ‘Potjie is fairly easy to make but staying sober during the cooking process is the hard part. So take it easy with the dop.’ Easier said than done, Alwyn.
10. Worst case scenario – fake it
If anything goes wrong, we like this calming advice from Joshua Roode: ‘chutney covers a multitude of sins.’ It sure does, Josh.
Got any hot tips that we haven’t included? Share them below in the comments!