Not just pot luck: braai masters' tips for making a fantastic potjie

We chat to braai experts about the great South African classic that begins and ends with the utensil that gives it its name, potjie

17 September 2017 - 00:00 By Hilary Biller
 Unilever Food Solutions Young Chef of the Year 2017, Terror Lekopa, makes a mean lamb potjie.
Unilever Food Solutions Young Chef of the Year 2017, Terror Lekopa, makes a mean lamb potjie.
Image: Supplied

TERROR LEKOPA, SAXON HOTEL CHEF

A potjie is something I cook when I'm at home with my family. It's a wholesome meal that brings us all together.

The very first potjie I made was with my cousins in Vereeniging.

I haven't tasted any potjie that I don't like - all have been delicious. You can't beat slow- cooked, fall-off-the-bone meat.

Potjies go wrong when the veggies are overcooked and it ends up more like a soup.

When making a good potjie, nothing beats adding a bit of garlic (or a lot) together with a few sprigs of thyme - they work wonders.

Jan Braai makes a fantastic Tomato bredie oxtail potjie.
Jan Braai makes a fantastic Tomato bredie oxtail potjie.
Image: JanBraai/Instagram

JAN SCANNELL AKA JAN BRAAI, COOKBOOK AUTHOR

I love a good potjie. In fact I consider potjie to be one of the most pure parts and fundamental ways of having a braai.

My favourite potjie pot is a three-legged Falkirk I got for my 19th birthday. Then I have about four or five flat-bottomed ones that are easy to handle, fit in the dishwasher and on the stove when there is a hurricane outside. You can also bake bread and malva pudding in them, so very versatile.

People go wrong when making potjies because they add too much liquid and/or stir the pot too much and end up making soup. So the trick is really to just have enough liquid and use a spoon to gently scrape along the bottom of the food now and again to make sure the potjie doesn't burn.

I'm not a fan of a potjie that contains everything in the shop, your fridge and cupboard. Choose one protein and one or two vegetables and to that you can add onion, garlic, salt, pepper, chilli for a bite and herbs for team spirit. To use an analogy of art, if you add all the colours of paint, you end up with a dull khaki brown.

Chanel Marais and Nick Perfect with their Sweet curried vegetable potjie.
Chanel Marais and Nick Perfect with their Sweet curried vegetable potjie.
Image: Esa Alexander

CHANEL MARAIS AND NICK PERFECT, WINNERS OF ULTIMATE BRAAI MASTER 2017

Potjie is just one of our favourite family type of meals. We always get a jump in our step when we are involved (take over) the potjie. In the Ultimate Braai Master we were able to make three potjies, and we won every single one.

The worst potjie we made was not the worst in terms of taste but rather how it had to be made and for how many. On one of the episodes in Ultimate Braai Master we had to make a potjie for 100 school kids. The first hour all three teams were able to help with the prep of the lamb potjie but thereafter the team captains were the only people allowed to work on it. I, (Chanel) had to sit on the sidelines for four hours just shouting encouragement as we were not allowed to give them any direction ... but it was a great success.

When making a spiced potjie, it's important to roast the spices before cooking as this allows the spices to 'open up' and intensifies their flavour.


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