Sunday, October 13, 2013

Peppery beef, oxtail and onion potjie

This recipe combines some of the most delicious ingredients you can put into a potjie and is a winner when you're cooking comfort food.


1 kg potjie beef
1 kg oxtail

1 medium turnip
1 medium potatoe
1 large carrot
2 handfuls of celery leaf
1 handful of parsely
2 large white onions
1 medium leek
1 medium tomato
3 cloves of garlic
1 cup black lentils

5 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 tbsp ground black pepper
1 tbsp course sea salt
Olive oil


5 hours


Cut the onions into thin rings and caramelise them in the pot using a little oil.  This takes about 30 minutes and should be done until the onions are dark brown, sweet and translucent.

Try to resist eating the onions, take them out the pot and keep them for later.  While the onions are cooking spend some time peeling the potato, carrot and turnip and then chop all the vegetables like you owe them some sort of vengeance.

Next, heat up some olive oil in the pot and brown the oxtail and beef chunks. Add the thyme in while you're doing this.

When the meat is browned mix in the caramelised onions and chopped garlic and make sure the onions are evenly mixed with the meat in the pot.

Sprinkle the pepper and salt over the top and then cover the meat with the lentils, potato, carrot, turnip and leek.  If you are using dried lentils make sure you rinse them thoroughly by running water through them.  Ignore this at your peril.

Next up add the tomato and cover with the leaves.  This should fill the pot up like it has in the photo below.  During this time while you're packing stuff in the pot keep the heat on medium.  

Once the leaves are in, pour in enough hot water to cover the meat, so if you part the leaves you'll see liquid down there on the level of the meat.  You can't skip this step because the lentils absorb a lot of water and the pot will burn if you don't.  You also need gravy because the next day you're going to be using the left-overs for a pie.   

Close up the pot and let it simmer gently for four hours, checking in every hour to make sure things aren't going pear-shaped.  When its done the meat should be ridiculously tender (that's the party trick for this dish, other than the insane flavour) and the potatoes should be disintegrated.

Serve it with rice or fresh bread and enjoy.  If you want to know what to do with the leftovers, here is a walk-through for making a pie.

Peppery beef, oxtail and onion pie

I like making pies because pies made at home are fun and easy when you have left over potjiekos.  I'd go as far as to say that if you don't make a pie from second-had boiled meats and vegetables you're an idiot.


2 rolls of puff pastry (you can make this yourself but why)
Leftover peppery beef, oxtail and onion potjie (recipe here)
The white of 1 egg


1 hour


Line a pie tin with puff pastry and then go through the potjie pulling out all the bones.  Use the meat sans bones to fill the pie.  This is going to be gross so wash your hands.  Yesterday's potjie is going to feel like a swamp filled with decaying zombies when you put your hands in there.  Don't let this image disturb you, it's not real.

Once that's all done then sprinkle a small amount of water, not more than a table spoon, over the meat and then seal it in.  It's very important to give your pie some cover art otherwise it looks like you're lacking in creativity when you pull it out the oven in front of guests.  Don't overdo it though.

Next, paint the top with egg white so its shiny and prick a few holes in the top using a toothpick.

Bake that thing at 190 degrees for as long as it takes to make  it golden brown.  Be aware that liquid might come out during the cooking process so make sure you have something below the pie tin to catch that.

The trick to getting the pie out of the tin is to place a plate on top of the pie then flip it over.  the pie will come out.  Then put another plate on top of the pie and flip it again.  If it doesn't come out then don't force it.  Ways to guarantee this fails: don't use a non-stick pie tin, forget to use spray and cook or some sort of edible lubricant, undercook the pie bottom, etc.

Voila!  Pie.  Serve it with a salad and enjoy.