When I started blogging, one of my goals – apart from sharing my favourite recipes – was to challenge myself to try new ingredients and dishes. I certainly have done that a number of times, but last Saturday I truly stepped out of my comfort zone when this English cook from the Southern Suburbs agreed to take part in a potjiekos competition in the heart of the Boland as part of the Ommiberg “Round the Rock” Festival.
It all started with a phone call from Radio Tygerberg. They had participated in the same competition in 2013, and this year two of their female DJ’s were challenging each other and taking part. The brief: to team up with morning drive DJ and singer, Rouchelle Liedemann, plan a delicious potjie recipe, prepare the potjie at the event, and most importantly – to secure bragging rights by beating the other Tygerberg team made up of afternoon drive DJ, Karien Basson and blogger Hila Jonker from Add To Taste.
The build up started the day before the competition, when I was interviewed by the morning drive team at Radio Tygerberg. This was another first for me and despite the nerves and lack of sleep the night before I really enjoyed it!
The venue for the cook-off was Perdeberg Winery in Paarl, and I arrived on the morning of the competition to find our little spot under the tent, and a braai drum and wood ready to go! I met up with the friendly Tygerberg team and the lovely Rouchelle and immediately felt more relaxed and ready to take on the challenge! I was also surprised to find out that there were only 3 teams competing this year (far less than in previous years), but nonetheless, we still had another team to beat! The judges gave us our presentation time, and then it was time to get cooking!
Although there do not seem to be any hard and fast rules when it comes to the flavours in a potjie pot, I wanted ours to stand out a little (in a good way of course!). I am a huge fan of Moroccan flavours so decided to try a Moroccan inspired lamb potjie with flavours of cumin, coriander and apricots. On the side we made an exotic orange salad which I thought would pair nicely with the warm spice flavours, and be a zesty, light side dish for a summer potjie. I was not disappointed – the lamb was tender and beautifully flavoured, all coated in a rich sauce. And the judges liked it too, we were awarded 2nd place in the competition, just one point behind winners Mr. and Mrs. Berry, aka “The Potberries” (love the name!). Our prize: a case of wine, Simply Asia meal vouchers (hello date night) and a bright, shiny medal. (Oh… and those bragging rights.) Most importantly though, it was a fun and relaxed day filled with delicious food and new friends. Definitely not a bad way to spend a Saturday – thanks for having me Radio Tygerberg!
MOROCCAN INSPIRED LAMB POTJIE
with ORANGE SALAD
Makes 6-8 servings
1/2 cup cake flour
Small handful of fresh rosemary, finely chopped
Large pinch of salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp paprika
2 tbsp cumin
8 lamb neck pieces
large freezer bag to toss the meat
250g dried apricots
water for soaking
3 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp garlic paste
1 tbsp ginger paste
2 green chillies finely chopped
1 large white onion, chopped
4 large sweet potatoes
2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
500ml red wine
500g butternut chunks
8 patty pans, quartered
2 litres good quality lamb stock
1 x 250g pack mushrooms, quartered
Fresh coriander to serve
2 small gem lettuces
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp castor sugar
2 oranges, segmented
2 carrots, finely grated
50g flaked almonds
small handful of fresh mint leaves to serve
Step 1.) Combine the flour, rosemary, salt, black pepper, turmeric, paprika and cumin and mix well. Place the lamb pieces in a large freezer bag and add the flour mix. Toss the bag to ensure that each piece of lamb is well coated with flour.
Step 2.) Place the dried apricots in a small bowl and add enough water to cover. Set aside to soak.
Step 3.) Add the vegetable oil to your hot potjie pot. Add the garlic paste, ginger paste and chillies and sauté for a minute. Add the onion and cook for a few minutes until glossy and starting to soften. Add the lamb pieces as well as any excess flour mix and brown for 10 minutes.
Step 4.) While the meat is browning, peel the sweet potatoes and cut into large, bite-size chunks. Pack the meat into a layer, then place the potato in a layer on top. Pour the tinned tomatoes over the top followed by the red wine. Close the lid and allow to simmer for 45 minutes.
Step 5.) Add the butternut and patty pans to the pot in a layer. Add the hot lamb stock, then replace the lid and continue simmering for 1 1/2 hours. You can check periodically to make sure that the liquid is not reducing too much, but I found that this amount was plenty!
Step 6.) Drain the apricots and squeeze out any excess water. Add these to the pot along with the mushrooms. Check the level of liquid again and adjust the seasoning if required. Simmer for a further 20 minutes while you prepare the salad (see below).
Step 7.) Dish the lamb potjie onto plates and garnish with fresh coriander leaves. Serve with fresh orange salad. (Note that the sauce will thicken on standing.)
To make the salad: separate the gem lettuce leaves, rinse and pile onto a platter. Combine the lemon juice, olive oil and castor sugar in a bowl. Add the orange segments and toss. Pop the orange segments on top of the lettuce leaves with the grated carrot. Sprinkle the flaked almonds over the top and top with fresh mint leaves.