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  • Writer's pictureStruan Bourquin

A Stew on the BBQ? What? Yes, that's a potjie!

Updated: Oct 15, 2023

Who can resist a slow-cooked beef stew, with fall-apart tender meat and a hearty, flavourful stewy gravy to go with it? Better yet, it's cooked over the open flame of a BBQ, or rather a braai as it's called where potjie's originate from in South Africa. AND, it's super easy!

Potjiekos with Yorkshire Pudding
Potjiekos with Yorkshire Pudding

A potjie is basically a "small pot" from the Dutch dialect of Afrikaans ("pot" + the diminutive "jie"= small pot). It looks like a witch's cauldron - a round cast iron cooking vessel and lid with three legs to hold it up over open coals.

Meat + potatoes + gravy + open fire... what more could you want?

I love to BBQ/braai all year round - come rain, shine or sleet. And this is a great winter option if you enjoy lighting a fire but don't want to stand around it for more than five minutes because it's freezing outside. But with that said, a potjie is an all-year-round feast and a great option in summer too if you're expecting guests. It's a no-mess no-fuss no-brainer!


Potjie is often served with rice, but as a South African living in the UK, this time I made it with Yorkshire Puddings, a wonderful little basket of joy that can hold the juicy stew inside it.


Stew on the BBQ: Potjie


As far as equipment goes, you'll need a BBQ/braai (of course) but what you can't do without is a cast iron pot at the very least, or a potjie if you are able to get your hands on one. I used a large cast iron dutch oven which can happily take the heat of coals and flame. I used a few bricks to prop the pot up over the heat, in the absence of the potjie pot legs, which worked perfectly!


Ingredients

  • 1 - 1.2kg braising steak (stewing beef), coarsely diced

  • 2 large onions, roughly chopped into 1/6 wedges

  • 1 punnet of mushrooms, quartered

  • 3 large carrots, cut into rings

  • 1 leek, cut into rings

  • 2 sticks celery, roughly chopped

  • 1 pack of green beans, cut in half

  • 1/2kg new potatoes

  • 3 beef stock cubes dissolved into 600ml boiling water

  • 1 can of Guinness

  • 3 Tbsp flour

  • 3 tsp salt

  • 2 tsp ground black pepper

  • 1 tsp cumin powder

  • 1/2 tsp coriander powder


Directions


See the image gallery below for layering.

  1. Meat and veg should all be coarsely chopped. It's all going to be cooked for a long time, so you’ll want chunky bits of meat and veg.

  2. Mix all spices into the flour, cut up the beef into big chunks and coat in the seasoned flour. The flour will later thicken the sauce as well.

  3. Sear the meat in the bottom of the potjie until browned.

  4. Remove meat from the pot and set aside.

  5. Add onions and mushrooms and sauté for a few minutes.

  6. Add the meat back to the potjie and mix together with the onions and mushrooms.

  7. Add a mixture of all of the rest of the veg on top of the meat, do not mix into the meat. It's important to keep everything in layers.

  8. Finally, evenly spread the new potatoes over the top. Pour over the stock and Guinness and put on the lid. Leave to cook for 3,5 hours over a low heat.

  9. The potjie should just be gently simmering.

  10. Pro Tip: while you don't want to be lifting the lid constantly as this will let steam and heat escape, you definitely don't want it to dry out and burn on the bottom. Lift the lid after 2,5 hours to check the level of the liquid, if it looks like it's too low and won't last another hour, top it up with some boiling water (150mls or so).


It really is a super simple, super delicious feast! And if using a Weber style kettle BBQ braai, you can put the lid on over the covered pot (with it's lid on) to keep the heat in and use less coals.

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