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Traditional Lamb and Dumplings Potjie Recipe

Ok. So the plan here was to give ourselves some credibility, and show you that we don’t only know the artsy fartsy recipes.

The "original potjie" is the golden target of all good potjie purists. Anyone can whip out the Tofu rubbish. Not just anyone can pull together the original herbs and spices that Colonel Sanders would give his left nut for. So for this installment of Extreme Potjie - we take a trip back in time to original potjies, the South African way.

Traditional Lamb and Dumplings Potjie Recipe

The flavour
  • 1 tsp each of the following, coriander seeds, fennel seeds, pepper corns, coarse salt (kinda like the same stuff you would put on biltong before drying)
  • 4-5 bay leaves
  • 3-4 cloves
  • Chillis to preference.
  • Mash this all together in a pestle and mortar, or otherwise wrap them up in some cloth and moer it with a hammer.

The Other Stuff
  • 500g lamb (knuckles, chops - anything with a some bone on it)
  • Three cloves garlic (diced) - always better to use fresh
  • 500ml to 1 litre Stock - oxtail or beef will do
  • Bottle of white wine - don’t waste the good South African stuff, perhaps some French plonk? 
  • 2 Onions (diced)
  • Potatoes, carrots, mushrooms and any other veggies you smaak.
  • 1 tin butter beans.

How to do it

Get your potjie pot piping hot with some oil in it. Gooi the garlic, and onions in. When the onions are soft and transparent, throw in the spices (properly crushed and beaten) and the lamb.

Brown the lamb (brown on all sides but still succulent). Ponder for a while on how metro the word “succulent” is.

Pour in 500ml of the stock and about a glass of the wine. Put the lid on and leave it.

Because we are doing dumplings, we’ll need more liquid than normal. This you will have to assess yourself because due to the heat of the fire and variations in cooking time - it might change from one pot to the next. What you need to keep in mind - is that right at the end, after all your veggies and stuff are in, you’re going to chuck in about 8-10 golf ball size pieces of dough. The golf ball dough things need to be covered by the remaining liquid.

Now the cool thing about a potjie is that as long as you have enough liquid you can never overcook it. Just make sure you have a steady gurgle (never a boil). As we’ve said before, and will say again - just listen. Let the pot talk to you. After you’ve had a few beers, watched the first half of the rugby, its time to throw in the potatoes. Hint: the smaller the spud, the quicker they cook.

Go back and sit on the couch for the second half. After another twenty minutes or so throw in the rest of the veggies (except the mushrooms). Keep an eye on the liquid level, a bit of wine here and a bit of stock there to keep everything in balance.

After the game grab the lads, stand around the fire and tell them how this recipe has been passed down the family tree for centuries. Stick a fork in the potatoes to see if they soft. When you’re satisfied that potatoes are done, chuck in the butterbeans, and stoke the fire - aim to maintain current rate of gurgle for about another hour.

It’s dumpling time. Throw in the dumplings, making sure that each one is just covered with liquid. If you experience a nagging thought that you’re creating lamb soup - fear not! The dumplings should soak up a lot of the liquid. Throw the mushrooms on top and cover. Now: make sure that no one lifts the lid for the next half hour - your dumplings might collapse.

Go and listen to Naas and Darren. Get your bowls ready and make sure someone has cooked rice. 

(Google "dumpling recipe" - it's not that hard, basically flour and water).

Recipe credit: Darren Ogden

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