A potjie is a classic staple of Cape Town and South African cuisine. It’s simple to make, rich in flavour and texture, and best of all – it’s cooked over a fire.
This last characteristic makes it an immediate favourite with those who love the atmosphere of a braai. Because while many of us can eat meat all day every day, variety is the spice of life.
Cooked in a cast-iron pot, a chicken potjie is a delectable, hearty, and healthy meal. You can put all sorts of vegetables in, according to your preferences. And since you’ll be cooking it over a fire, you can easily make roosterkoek to eat with this meal. They go together perfectly.
In this guide to the best chicken potjie recipe South Africa has to offer, I’ll tell you my favourite additions to throw in beside the meat. You can, however, substitute anything that doesn’t appeal to you perfectly.
What is Chicken Potjie?
If you’re unfamiliar with this term (so, if you’re not from SA), it might sound strange and unusual. The chicken part is easy. The second word, however, is Afrikaans. Since this is a traditional South African meal, it has a similarly traditional South African name.
Simply put, potjie is the diminutive form of the word for pot. So it means chicken pot. This is because of one of the most important and unique aspects of chicken potjie recipes, which is the cast-iron pot it’s cooked in.
You can also choose to make a vegetable potjie, if you’re not a fan of meat. You would then simply skip the chicken, and replace the chicken stock with vegetable stock. Since this recipe has so many different tasty vegetables, it will still be absolutely wonderful.
How to Cook Your Chicken Potjiekos Recipe
The first thing you need is a big cast iron pot. This potjie pot is a classic in South African homes, and if you don’t have one, your grandmother will. However, if you’re not from around these parts, you may have no idea what this round-bellied, three-legged pot is.
Worry not! A slow cooker, while not quite the same, can do a similar job, making it more like a stew. It will, however, be missing the smokey flavour that makes the recipe extra special
But if you’ve got the goods and you’re making a classic cast-iron pot chicken potjiekos, the first thing you’ll do is start the fire. Then you can head to the kitchen to start the simple and easy prep.
Chicken Potjie Recipe
- Potjie pot
- 1 kg chicken assorted chicken pieces on the bone, with skin
- 2 medium onions
- 2 large potatoes
- 1 small butternut
- 5 carrots
- 2 small aubergine or 1 large
- 1 punnet mushrooms
- 200 g baby marrow (zucchini)
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 2 bay leaves
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 cups white wine
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper
- First, you’ll want to chop up your vegetables. Don’t make them too small, as they can get lost in the stew. Thick chunks are the best way to go.
- When the fire has heated up the bottom of the pot, add 2 tablespoons of oil, and chuck in the chicken. Be careful not to lean over the pot, as the oil might spit up.
- Fry the chicken up a little before adding the onions, and letting it all brown a bit.
- Next, add in the 2 cups of chicken stock and the bay leaves.
- Salt the aubergine. This step isn’t crucial, but it will definitely add to the tastiness of the end product.
- Now you will layer in the vegetables, in order of how long each one takes to cook. Potatoes will go at the bottom, then butternut, carrots, aubergine, mushrooms, and last - baby marrow.
- (Optional) Add 2 cups of white wine. This will deepen the flavour and add more complex undertones to the taste.
- And that’s that. This simple stew will cook over the fire for an hour, without being stirred or at all bothered. All you need to do is ensure that the fire doesn’t go out, and that it doesn’t roar around the pot either.
- After an hour, you can check the chicken potjiekos, to see if the vegetables are cooked through (they certainly should be), and if you’re happy with the flavour. Some prefer to pull it off the flames at this point, while others like to cook theirs for up to 4 hours. It all depends on the texture you prefer, and how hungry the friends around the fire are.
Last Words on the Best Chicken Potjie Recipe
Once the meal has cooked over the coals for however long you choose, you and your friends and family can tuck into one of South Africa’s favourite dishes. It’s wholesome, heartwarming food that is sure to sustain chats and laughs right into the night.
If you end up with leftovers, which would not be in the least bit sad, just put it into a Tupperware and into the fridge. You’ll enjoy it just as much the next day, and you can spice it up by using it as a sauce over some form of starch. It goes well with rice, pasta and bread.
If you’re looking for a little dessert after your dinner, try our malva pudding, or our peppermint crisp recipe. South African desserts complement this dish perfectly.