If you can chop vegetables quickly, then I have got to ultimate fancy, yet deceptively simple, dish for you. Cutting vegetables still makes you worry about lopping off a finger? Then this is the perfect practice dish for you.
A potjie is actually a type of cooking vessel that looks like something you would find in the Wild West – especially when placed right in an open fire! But the word is also used to describe the food that one cooks in the potjie. There are an unimaginable number and type of variations, and I have come across such crazy combinations as mutton neck and oxtail and banana all the way to the more palatable (though comparatively mundane-sounding) beer and beef.
Since I am not a meat eater myself, I gave the vegetable version a go for a recent South African feast at my house. The key to this dish’s success, both in cooking method and taste, is the layering of ingredients. Starting with the longer cooking potatoes and ending with light, delicate leeks, the juices seep down through each successive vegetable, imparting flavor to their counterparts below.
Prep time: 20-25 minutes, 60 minutes cooking time
Adapted from Biltongmakers.com
Note: This dish is especially delicious topped with piquant komkomer sambal and can be served with a grain such as couscous or yellow rice or on its own in bowls like a stew.
- 4 medium potatoes
- 3 large carrots
- 2 large handfuls green beans
- 3 stalks of celery
- 2 turnips
- 1 large onion
- 1 green bell pepper
- 1 large leek
- 1 large can of diced tomatoes
- parsley (fresh or flash dried)
- olive oil
- freshly ground pepper
- Set a large stock pot on the stove and drizzle olive oil on the bottom so it is coated with a very thin layer of oil.
- After you appropriately cut each ingredient, add it to the pot in an even layer.
- Peel the potatoes, cut them into 1/2 – 3/4 inch slices, and then cubes. Toss the potatoes into the pot.
- Peel the carrots and slice them into thin rounds.
- Rinse the green beans and pat dry.
- Trim of the ends and cut them into 1 in – 1 1/2 inch pieces.
- Rinse the celery, cut off the ends, and chop roughly.
- Peel and chop the turnips in the same manner as the potatoes.
- Peel the onion and cut it into quarters. When add it to the pot, break up the layers of the onion to spread it evenly on the potjie mixture.
- Cut the bell pepper in half and remove the seeds and core. Chop into large cubes.
- Cut off the green section of the leeks and toss out or save for stock. Slice into thin rounds, also discarding the bottom of the root.
- If using fresh parsley, finely chop a small handful and add to a mixing bowl. If using dried, add two tablespoons dried leaves.
- Dump the canned tomatoes (including juices) into the bowl with the parsley.
- Add one teaspoon salt and two teaspoons ground pepper and mix thoroughly.
- Pour the tomato mixture evenly on top of the vegetables and cover the pot.
- Set the heat to medium or medium high for 5-10 minutes until you noticed the liquid at the top starting to bubble, then reduce the heat to low and continue cooking for 60 minutes total.
- To make sure the dish is done, use a long spoon to reach down the side of the pot and fish out a potato. If the potatoes are quite tender, you are all set to serve.
- Mix the vegetables slightly and serve the potjie (in the pot – do not transfer) on a trivet with a laddle.
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