My husband tends to be the dude that ends up doing ALL the braaing! Especially when we get together at any house other than ours – for some reason, he is always the sucker who lands up in the smoke!
Despite the odd complaint of smelling of a smoke-house, I know that he enjoys the attention as well as the umpteen “Hmmmmm…good job Bev!”s that abound thereafter and he tends to take his job relatively seriously, attacking the task with gusto.
Although I have convinced myself that I might have more finesse in the kitchen, my husband has in his place therein, loving to opt to cooking a good curry (especially when the Sunday blues kick in) and has undoubtedly taken ownership of the “Potjie Pot Perfection” badge, of course, on our second oven complete with coals – the braai!
With Fathers Day (16 June) heading towards us at a rate – I thought I would share with you the recipe for which my beloved man has become well known and respected amongst friends and family. The method is man-friendly and does not require hard labour in the smoke, treating your dad/man to famed time in front of the coals, without major effort. He will also enjoy basking in the glory thereafter, as you shower him with praise (hint, hint)…and let’s face it, there couldn’t be more perfect a gift for a dad than utter appreciation.
} I would interlude at this juncture to point out that although one could suggest here that the ladies get stuck in and take over in order to let the dads kick back – no offense girls…but there is something about rugged preparation, a little more mess, a dash of slop and slosh here and there and respect for the true South African braai culture that requires a man’s touch – to provide the overall magic of this dish, much of which lies in the time it takes to cook.
Bev’s method is pretty perfect for any man to cope with in that it embraces the “less is more” attitude, the only non-negotiable being generous time given to being in the pot and on the coals. He also makes it abundantly clear that the success of every good potjie is subject to a thorough taste testing at regular intervals throughout the 3 hour process rendering the cook belly-full on completion!
Ladies/moms – set the table, keep the beers cool and the glasses topped, check the music, make sure the kids are happy and entertained and step aside for dad’s moment….
WHATS’ IN THE POT~ (inspired largely by what is in the freezer, pantry and growing in the garden)
- Non-fatty lamb with a bit of bone for the flavouring derived from the marrow (work on 1 kg per 4 pax)
- 2 large onions, diced
- Roughly 125ml Canola oil
- Heaped tablespoon of freshly crushed garlic (try stay away from the lazy kind)
- 2 tins tomato puree
- * Generous sprinkling of dried mixed Italian herbs and/or a handful of fresh herbs from the garden (best would be marjoram, thyme, flat leaf parsley, coriander)
- Healthy (or not so healthy) man-sized dose of salt and pepper to taste
- Roughly 1 1/2 cups water and lamb stock
- 2-3 tablespoons brown sugar
- Small bag peeled baby potatoes (work on roughly 8 baby potatoes for 4 pax)
- Half a bag of carrots OR green beans (your preference), peeled and chopped
* OR try eat.arts’ exotic spice Za’atar , inspired by Middle Easter flavours and including sesame seeds
HOW ITS’ DONE~
Prepare the coals and the pot (see “how-to“). Together with the oil and garlic, caramelise the onions – “the longer the onions cook, the sweeter they become”. Add the cubed meat to brown and then pour in the puree and stir with some grace. Toss in the herbs, pour in the lamb stock and season as desired.
At this point a generous sprinkling of brown sugar is good for offsetting the acidity of the tomatoes – a couple of heaped tablespoons should do it. Jiggle the coals to move the majority to the side, 2 or 3 hot coals should keep the pot going for a good while! Stir and taste.
After half an hour, taste. After an hour, stir in the potatoes and veg and taste again…then sit back and grab a beer.
Keep an eye on the liquid for the next two hours and season again towards the end of the meal if needed. Of course, a final taste would be required before serving.
IMPORTANT TO NOTE: “Don’t stir the pot too often it could turn into soup, and keep the liquid at a good level.”
The way we do it in our home would be to serve with bouncy, steaming jasmine rice and fresh breads to ‘rip and dip’ together with a healthy handful of fresh coriander leaves and sliced tomato and onion on the side. I can also highly recommend you round off the flavour with eat.arts’ Salts of Origin Applewood Smoked salt.
And there you have it, a traditional South African specialty, made with a masculine flourish, to be cherished by all, including the cooks…to equal the adoration we have for the men in our lives.
Wishing all dads, and dads-to-be a delicious day on Sunday. May you be wrapped in the love you deserve, and may you delight in witnessing bowls licked clean in symbolic appreciation of the part you play in our lives…and of course, because you are well and truly clear of dish-duty on Sunday evening, for obvious reasons.
(All quotes with compliments of Bevan Hoepner.)
Written for eat.art by: Nancy Hoepner
Only slightly exhausted mother-of-two delicious girls, lover of food (fine and fast), purveyor of all things pretty and Jill of all things ‘creative’…Nancy has a background in the visual and performing arts. Having worked with the eat-art team before, she is thrilled, and slightly bewildered to have been asked to (take time out from juggling and) add some spice to the eat.art blog. Don’t get us wrong….it’s not that it needs it….it just wants more…and she is happy to oblige.