Heritage Day is a special occasion in South Africa where South Africans come together to celebrate their diverse cultural backgrounds, traditions and cuisine.
One of the most cherished aspects of this celebration is the famous Potjie, a culinary tradition that reflects the richness of South Africa’s cultural heritage bringing friends, families and communities closer together. This unique South African way of cooking has deep historical roots.
In this blog, we’ll delve into the art of deciding on the best potjie size to use, various cooking methods and the most efficient potjie storing method to help you make the most of your Heritage Day potjie experience!
1. Choosing the Perfect Potjie
With various 3-legged-, flat- and bake pots available for you to purchase, we understand the struggle of choosing the best potjie for your Heritage Day feast. Not only do you need to decide on the best size to use, but you’ll also need to determine the material that piece of cookware should be produced from- Traditional Oil Cured Cast Iron or Enamel Cast Iron.
Learn the difference here
After determining your potjie material, you’ll need to decide on the appropriate potjie size based on the number of people you’ll be cooking for on the day.
DID YOU KNOW?
You can determine how many servings your potjie can accommodate by multiplying the outside rings by the size of your pot.
For example, the Best Duty #3 pot has four rings on the outside and can therefore hold 12 servings.
For smaller gatherings, we recommend the #3 or #4 potjie. For larger gatherings, look at #6 or #8, as the #8 potjie can accommodate up to 32 people. The biggest 3-legged oil-cured cast iron potjie size is #25, which can feed up to 100 mouths! No matter the size of your family or community, we’ve got a potjie for you!
2. Seasoning your Potjie
What does it mean to season your potjie?
You’ve recently gotten your first cast iron cookware… what happens next? You may assume that you can simply start using your cookware right away. Although many potjies are pre-seasoned, you will get far more enjoyment if you season your potjie yourself right from the start; and it helps to understand why seasoning is done.
As a porous metal, cast iron can rust without a protective layer. The seasoning process involves using a layer of oil that is heated onto the cast iron. When the layer of oil is heated past its smoking point, it carbonises which turns the oil into a type of plastic that sticks to the potjie. This coating seals the porous surface and prevents sticking as you cook and reduces the risk of rust.
Seasoning is done with all types of oil-cured cast iron cookware, from potjies and bake pots to flat pots and skillets.
Now that you understand why you need to season your cast iron cookware, you are ready to learn how to season your potjie like a master.
Follow the step by step instruction here
3. Layering your ingredients
Layering the ingredients in your Potjie is a fundamental technique that ensures even cooking and allows the flavours to mend together beautifully. Proper layering allows the ingredients to cook at their own pace, maintaining their distinct tastes while contributing to the overall harmony of the dish.
How to layer your ingredients inside of your potjie: lounelle add link
The cooking process of a Potjie is a slow and deliberate one, requiring patience and attention to detail. Generally, a potjie can take anywhere from 2 to 4 hours to cook, but following the below tips can add to make the best potjie.
Tips to make the best potjie:
- Ensure a gentle simmer by adjusting the heat source or adding or removing coals.
- Avoid stirring too often to prevent ingredients from sticking.
- Allow the potjie to cook slowly, infusing the flavours together and forming a rich sauce.
- Occasionally check the potjie, ensuring it doesn’t boil or burn. Add more liquid if needed.
- Test the meat and vegetables by piercing them with a fork to confirm if it is cooked to your satisfaction. They should be tender and easily fall apart.
Timing is a critical aspect of cooking a Potjie to perfection. As a slow-cooking method, the cooking time can vary depending on the ingredients, the size of the Potjie, the heat source and personal preferences.
4. Serve and Enjoy
Serving your food straight from the potjie encourages a communal dining experience, bringing people together to savour the flavours and celebrate South Africa’s culinary heritage. Preferred side-dishes with potjies include pap, samp, rice or bread. Garnish the potjie with fresh herbs or a sprinkle of lemon juice for added freshness. Share the joy of potjie cooking with family and friends, celebrating the diversity of South Africa’s diverse heritage with a medley of ingredients.
5. After use – Cleanup and Storage
Cleaning and properly storing your potjie is essential to maintain its longevity and ensure that it remains in good condition for generations. We’ve gathered useful tips on how to clean and store your potjie so that you can keep your potjie looking good as new:
Cleaning your Potjie
- Immediate Cleaning: After serving your Potjie and once it has cooled down enough to handle safely, it’s best to start the cleaning process as soon as possible. This prevents food residues from hardening and makes it easier to remove.
- Scraping and Soaking: Use a wooden or plastic spatula to scrape off any stuck-on food particles from the bottom and sides of the Potjie. If there are stubborn residues, fill the Potjie with warm water and let it soak for a few hours or overnight.
- Avoid Harsh Chemicals: Avoid using harsh chemicals, abrasive scrubbers or steel wool to clean your Potjie, as they may damage the seasoning or the cast iron surface. Instead, use a soft sponge or cloth and warm, soapy water to gently scrub the Potjie. This should be enough to remove any remaining residues.
- Rinse and Dry: Rinse the Potjie thoroughly with clean water to remove any soap residues. After rinsing, dry the Potjie completely with a towel or by placing it back on the heat source for a few minutes to evaporate any moisture.
Storing your Potjie
- Seasoning: Before storing your Potjie, make sure it is completely dry. To prevent rust, you can lightly coat the inside and outside of the Potjie with vegetable oil or cooking spray.
- Newspaper Liner: To further protect the Potjie from moisture and potential rust, you can place a few layers of scrunched newspaper inside the Potjie before putting on the lid.
- Storage Space: Find a dry and well-ventilated place to store your Potjie. Avoid damp or humid environments that could promote rust formation.
- Lid Placement: Store the Potjie with the lid slightly ajar or placed on top without fully sealing it. This allows air circulation, preventing any moisture build-up.
- Regular Inspection: Periodically check your Potjie, especially if stored for long periods to ensure it remains in good condition. If any rust spots appear, gently remove them with a soft brush or cloth and re-season as needed.
- Use potjie pot gloves or thick towels to handle the hot potjie pot and lid.
- After use, allow the potjie pot to cool completely before cleaning it with hot water and a brush.
- Dry the pot thoroughly and apply a light coat of oil to prevent rusting.
Remember, the beauty of potjie cooking lies in the experience and the celebration of South African heritage. Adapt recipes to your preferences, experiment with flavours and cherish the memories created around the potjie with your family and friends.
The Best Duty team wishes you a Happy Heritage Day!