A potjie is a three legged cast iron pot. My husband's parents bought us our first potjie in South Africa, before we had our first child, and it flew back to the U.S.A. with us as a carry on. Let me tell you, that was a long flight, with a heavy carry on. But it was worth it. This little pot, meant for cooking outdoors with coal and wood is a little gem. Throw the meat and vegetables in, watch the fire, relax, have some iced tea, throw around a rugby ball (okay, maybe a football) and then sit down to a feast! Well...maybe it's a little more complicated than that, you don't want the fire too hot or it will burn, you don't want the flame too small or it will never cook. And it's nice to get it good and hot in the beginning to sear your meat and bring out all the good flavors! But we'll go over that...and mostly, you learn by trial and error...right?!
What you will need:
a fire pit
wood and charcoal
3-4lb roast, we did sirloin roast bone-in
1 onion chopped
1 whole garlic bulb, with end cut off
3-4 carrots, cut in half
3 zucchini, cut in half
15 white mushrooms, whole
bunch of fresh rosemary
bay leaf or two
1 bottle sweet red wine
4-6 cups beef broth
What you will do:
Set your meat on a cutting board and remove any large parts of fat. You want to leave some on, but you don't want too much fat in your pot. Salt genourously and allow to sit out while you prepare your fire.
Using wood and charcoal build a small, hot fire. We usually have the fire we cook over, comprised mostly of hot coals, and then a small fire next to it where we keep coals hot to transfer to the cooking fire when needed.
Once your cooking fire is good and hot, put your pot on top of it and add a couple tablespoons of olive oil to pot and allow to get really hot. Add meat. Cook on each side for 2 minutes, searing nicely.
Add chopped onion and cook until soft, keeping fire hot, with lots of wood and charcoal.
Once onions have softened, add rosemary and bay leaves, wine and broth. Put lid on pot and do not open for at least 30 minutes.
You want it to be simmering now, low. So pull some of the charcoal and wood out and let the heat reduce.
Potjies have 3 legs, so this is fairly easy to do.
After thirty minutes of simmering, check and see how it is cooking. Adjust charcoal and wood to keep it at a low simmer. You want your meat to cook slowly. No rolling boils today.
After 1 hour, add garlic and carrots, your harder vegetables. Continue to simmer, not lifting lid too often.
Once you are down to the last 30 minutes or so of cooking, add the softer vegetables, mushroom and zuchini.
Cooking can take anywhere from 2-6 hours depending on your meat and fire. Adjust accordingly.
Once vegetables and meat are finished, remove from pot and leave broth to simmer down into a reduction. Let the meat rest in the oven (not on) while you finish up the broth.
Transfer to bowl and serve meat and vegetables and broth with rice or mashed potatoes.