Aahh… I’ve always loved a good stew! And with Autumn well and truly here (although that doesn’t really mean much ‘temperature wise’ here in sunny Alicante 🙂 ), it’s the start of soup and stew season in our house! Luckily, the girls don’t seem to mind – if i must say so myself, this Mama can make a mean bowl of stew!
You see, i’m South African, and it may not be a very well known fact, but us South Africans actually perfected the art of stew making 🙂 … In South Africa we have a traditional cooking style called ‘Potjie’ (pronounced poy-key) or ‘Potjiekos’ (poy-key-kos) which literally means ‘pot food’. It’s basically a slow cooked stew, done in a large pot bellied, three-legged cast iron pot, which is cooked outdoors, over the fire. Just like any other stew, ‘Potjie’ can be made with just about anything – beef, lamb, chicken, fish, goat… But what really makes ‘Potjie’ so special, apart from the wonderful potjie pot that it’s cooked in of course, are the herbs and the spices that go into it!
A true South African ‘Potjie’ has a just a little bit of ‘bite’ to it. Normally, i like to get this by using a bit of freshly grated ginger, some coriander and cumin. Sometimes, when the girls let me 🙂 , I even add in a tiny little squirt of fresh chili paste for a little bit of heat.
One of my favorite ‘Pojties’ is a Lamb Neck Potjie
Unfortunately, one thing i have not yet managed to find in Spain, is an actual, proper Potjie Pot – if anyone knows where i can get one, please, Let me know! 🙂 – so, for now, we ‘make do’ with Lamb neck Stew. You know what, i’m not doing it justice…let me start again…
I love a good slow-cooked Lamb Neck Stew, and even though we don’t have our Potjie (yet) to cook it in, this recipe never fails!
What you need
– 1 onion, roughly chopped
– 2 stalks celery, roughly chopped
– 2 carrots, sliced into thick slices
– 1 large courgette/zucchini (or baby marrow 🙂 as i grew up calling it), chopped into large pieces
– 2 large potatoes, chopped into large pieces
– 1 large can of peeled whole tomatoes
– 1 small can of tomato paste
– a knob of fresh ginger, grated
– 3 cloves of garlic, grated
– 2 Tablespoon fresh chili paste
– 2 Tablespoons coriander leaf paste
– 2 Tablespoons lemongrass paste
– 1 teaspoon dried cumin
– 1 teaspoon dried coriander
– 5 or 6 cloves
– Lamb neck chops – (1 – 1,2 kgs)
– 1 can of beer (we went with Heineken, a nice pale lager)
What we did
The secret to creating the perfect Lamb Neck stew lies in browning off the meat – I do it just a little differently! You see, i cook off my spices first, then brown my meat in them! Uummm! You really taste the flavors!
In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, heat a little oil. I use a mix of sunflower and olive oil, and that seems to work nicely. Add your diced or grated garlic, the grated ginger, the lemongrass paste, and the chili paste. Stir gently until everything is nicely combined, then sprinkle in the dry spices (cumin, coriander and cloves). Cook the mixture for a minute or two, then add in the can of tomato paste, and stir for about a minute, so that the natural sugars can caramelize.
Season the lamb neck chops with salt and a little freshly-ground black pepper, turn the heat up to ‘medium high’, then pop them into your pot, making sure to get a little of the tomato spice mix on each piece of meat. Cook for three or four minutes on each side, so that you get a little caramelization to add flavor to your stew. You may have to do this in batches.
Once all your meat has been browned, set it aside for later. There should still be a bit of oil (and drippings) left in the pot – don’t throw throw that out. Use that to saute the onions and celery. Once they have cooked down a little and the onions have gone translucent, pop your meat back in, and give everything a quick stir. Add in the carrots and give it another quick stir, then dump in the can of whole tomatoes. Use your wooden spoon to ‘squish’ them up a little (don’t worry – they’re going to cook down over the next couple of hours). Hmmm… isn’t that starting to look glorious!
Now, time for the secret ingredient! Instead of using stock or redwine, this stew calls for another South African staple – beer! A whole can of it in fact! We went with Heineken, a nice mild, pale lager, but you could use any beer that you like. Yip, just pour it right on in there!
Let the stew bubble along gently on medium for about 20 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, then reduce the heat to low, and put the top on. Simmer for an hour hour and a half, stirring once halfway through. Finally, add in the potatoes and the courgettes/zucchini, replace the lid and cook for another 30 to 40 minutes, until the potatoes are done.
We always have our stews with fluffy white rice – but that’s just personal preference… (and maybe a little bit of blackmail by Kayla – she eats the stuff plain when i let her!). Mashed potatoes are also a good option, and i happen to have the very http://brightnbrainy.com/2016/09/07/mamas-magnificent-mashed-potatoes/ for you right here!
Yum yum yum!
And incase you’d like to print a copy out (to frame and hang on the wall, or hand out at your next big party 😉 ) , i’ve got that covered too!
- 1 onion, roughly chopped
- 2 stalks celery, roughly chopped
- 2 carrots, sliced into thick slices
- 1 large courgette, chopped into large pieces
- 2 large potatoes, chopped into large pieces
- 1 large can of peeled whole tomatoes
- 1 small can of tomato paste
- know of fresh ginger, grated
- 3 cloves of garlic, grated
- 2 Tablespoon fresh chili paste
- 2 Tablespoons coriander leaf paste
- 2 Tablespoons lemongrass paste
- 1 teaspoon dried cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried coriander
- 5 or 6 cloves
- Lamb neck chops - (1 - 1,2 kgs)
- 1 can of beer (pale lager)
- 1. Heat a little oil in a large, heavy bottomed pot. Fry off your garlic and ginger, as well as the chili and coriander paste, then sprinkle in the dry spices and stir for another minute or so to allow the spices to 'come alive' 🙂 . Add in the tomato paste, and stir for another minute.
- 2. Season your lamb chops, then brown them in batches in the pot with the tomato spice mixture. Set the meat aside once browned.
- 3. Saute the onions and celery until translucent, then return the meat to the pot. Add in the carrots, and give everything a gentle stir. Pour in the can of whole tomatoes, them use a wooden spoon to break them up a little.
- 4. Pour the beer over and turn the heat to medium. Let the stew bubble gently for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, then turn the heat down and cover.
- 5. Simmer for an hour and a half, stirring once halfway through.
- 6. Add in the potatoes and the courgettes, give the stew a gentle stir, then cover for a final 30 to 40 minutes until the potatoes are cooked through.
- 7. Serve with fluffy white rice or mashed potatoes.