Poitjie is such a South Africa tradition, and personally one of my favourit meals to prepare. I love doing a great poitjie, and have been lacking in doing so since we moved into the flat.
A little history on the poitjie…The round potbellied cast iron pot was the perfect cooking utensil to suit the nomadic lifestyle of the black tribes and the Voortrekkers during the 17th and 18th centuries. Potjiekos evolved as a stew, made of venison and vegetables (if the latter were available). The pot with its contents protected by a layer of fat was hooked under the wagon by the Voortrekkers while travelling and unhooked at the next stop to be put on the fire again.
When the wagons stopped at the end of the day and camp was made, game was stewed and sometimes mutton, goat or old oxen when available. As each new animal was shot, it was slaughtered and the meat added to the pot, together with whatever vegetables that could be found. The large bones were added replacing the old ones, to thicken the stew. Surplus meat was preserved by seasoning and drying.
So on my day off, I thought I would do a little poitjie. The first step to a good poitjie is to burn the pot. Wash it thoroughly, then place it back on the fire to get it really hot before cooking again.
The best part about a poitjie is that you can add whatever meat and vegetables you wish to add, and your cooking liquid is all up to you. I used beef with red wine. Another great combo I love is chicken and beer poitjie.
Now what does one serve with a poitjie? Well, traditionally it would be “pap” or dumplings and in many homes it is rice. I also served one of my cannellini bean salads, which was actually very nice. The cannellini bean’s meatiness worked really well with the poitjie, and you could even add it directly to the poitjie, however, I rather did a salad.
Cannellini & Beetroot salad
2 cups cannellini beans, leftover night to soak, and boiled until soft
fresh beetroot, boiled until soft
Add all together, ensure your beetroot is cooled properly before you add to the salad.