• Caitlin Booker

The infamous paprika potjie

Well cheers February! *sips wine*

Speaking of February, it‘s a leap year! Ladies you can propose to your man. If you’re born on the 29th Happy Real Birthday! I know a thirty-one year old turning 8.

(Did you have to think about that a bit? So did I *sips wine*)

Now if you are buttering up your man to say yes, or getting to celebrate a birthday for the first time in four years. There’s a sure fire way to make it delicious. I’m talking about my go to chill out, big group, small group, family or client favourite - a potjie.

I feel as if it’s time for a story detour! clears throat, sips wine*.

The first time I made this, it wasn’t a taste test with the family. But, for clients on my first ever catering gig in the bush. A group of super hungry men. Now, the South African guys in the group were very skeptical of my ability to produce a potjie of standard. Afterall, a potjie can go incredibly well, or come out a tasteless mushy mess. Thus, I was bombarded with a lot of unsolicited advice.

Being a stubborn little ass, I ignored all of it. Went with my gut, and produced this the potjie of potjies. This recipe led to one of the biggest compliments I’ve ever received, not just a request to have it again; but the following comment: “I feel like I‘m a little child again, eating with my Grandmother.” I cannot express how happy that comment made me, and I will cherish it forever.

On to the potjie!

The basics. What size pot?

Potjie pots (cooking ones, not the decorative table ones) range from size 1/4 which can feed one person with side dishes, to a size 25 which has th capacity of 70,5 liters and can feed over 100 people with side dishes. The standard potjie I use is a size 4, which feeds up to 16 people with side dishes and about 8 people without.

How much meat?

This depends on your crowd. If they are big eaters up to 400 grams per person - think oh big burly men here. If they are is smaller eaters you can get away with 250 grams per person. If you are using meat with a lot of bones, go for a larger amount to be on the safe side.

What kind of meat?

Stewing meat is perfect, after all a potjie is a form of stew. However, be sure to add pieces with bone, from the neck, tail, or skenkel as the marrow from the bones adds incredible flavour. Most butchers in South Africa have packets of potjie kos these have a mix of bone in, and stewing chunks.

As is well documented I love cooking with venison. No surprise here, but this recipe was developed using venison. Because venison is incredibly lean I add fat in, in the form of cubed pork, or bacon, I have even used pork chops and pork sausages before. This enhances the flavour of the potjie. Using butter, or lard instead of cooking oil is also a nifty trick.

What about sides?

This is super easy, you want something that will absorb some of the sauce. Pap, or mashed potatoes are the best options in my opinion. But if you’d prefer rice, or small pasta shells you won’t be struck down by the culinary gods.

A fresh salad makes a great contrast to the homey comfort of the potjie, but don’t be offended if no one eats it because the potjie is too delicious.

Don’t forget a good bread such as a ciabatta or sourdough to mop up your plate with.

How long does it take?

As with all stews, and most curries the longer it cooks for, the more the flavours develope and the better it tastes. I start mine as early as possible, and aim for a cooking time not shorter than 4 hours.

Basics covered lets get cooking.

With love,

The Gourmet Hippo

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