Lockdown Journal – Day Seventeen of Twenty-One

Day 17 – Sunday, 12 April

Easter Sunday in South Africa. I can’t pinpoint a specific local Easter tradition during these holidays, aside from the ever-present meat braai (barbeque), perhaps with the addition of the leg or rack of lamb – lamb being a favourite dish worldwide to celebrate the festivities. But today I will only write about the local yummy stew – potjiekos. 

My husband and I are preparing a layered stew called potjiekos, a mix of slowly cooked meat and vegetables over the coals, but the stove works as well if you want to cook indoors. We are using seasoned tender beef pieces, but the dish is equally delicious with chicken, oxtail, pork or lamb cuts. The meat sizzles in brown onion broth (the French Onion soup leftover) and carefully measured red wine (the alcohol ban during lockdown is still in place, I’m afraid). 

When the meat has browned thoroughly, we add the vegetables in several layers, first the potatoes, carrots and butternut, then let it simmer for fifteen to twenty minutes. Then we add the next round of veggies, without disturbing the stew – green beans and zucchini, and lastly mushrooms. You can add as many vegetables as you like – there is no right and wrong regarding what you can put in the stew, and that’s the beauty of it. There cannot simply be a bad potjiekos, right? I hope so!

Traditionally this dish is served on a bed of fluffy rice, but we feel so regularly stuffed during this quarantine – it must be the homemade bread – that we forgo the rice and serve the rich stew directly in bowls, knowing that we will be eating seconds straight away and fill more dishes for the next two days. Even in bigger families, this nutritious meal is bound to last for a couple of days if consumed in moderation, and the next day is even more delicious after the flavour has developed nicely overnight. But don’t take my word for it, prepare it yourself and thank me later. Like the French say, Bon Appetit! 

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