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Beef, Bacon & Beer Potjie: Not Your Grandma’s Stew - Recipe

Written by Kobus on December 6, 2012

Beer, beef and bacon potjie ready to eatServes: 6-8   
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Estimated Cost: $10

This is a spin on a classic South African recipe. Stews are normally a bunch of ingredients that are thrown into the pot and stirred from time to time, the end result is all your ingredients having the same consistency, mush.

On the other hand, a potjie is never stirred. All the ingredients retain their texture and shape but still mix flavors with their neighbors. This meal is hearty and perfect for a cold night, especially when accompanied by a few beers.

Don’t be afraid to change up the ingredients, especially the veggies. A potjie is very forgiving and turns out scrumptious every time.

The Ingredients

  • 2lb beef, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 6 strips of bacon, chopped
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 2 tsp corn starch
  • 1 tsp cayenne
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 12oz can of beer
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • 2 medium onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 tomatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 tbsp vinegar
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 3 large potatoes, peeled and chunked
  • 4 carrots, peeled and chunked
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tbsp mixed herbs (oregano, cilantro, basil)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Optional Veggies

  • Pumpkin or squash - peeled and chunked
  • Green beans
  • Corn
  • Bell peppers
  • Sweet potatoes

The Steps

  1. potjie fireStart a small charcoal fire or a larger wood fire.
  2. While you're waiting for the fire, prep the carrots, potatoes, onions, garlic and beef.
  3. Mix the flour, cornstarch and cayenne in a bowl and lightly coat the beef cubes.
  4. Once the coals are ready, separate them into two piles. One will be used to cook and the other to keep the fire stoked. Make a secure base with sufficient airflow to place the Dutch oven on. You want high heat for the first 20 minutes, and then just enough to simmer the stew for the remainder. Roughly 8 to 10 medium-sized coals should work in the beginning, reduce that number by half to simmer.
  5. Add butter and vegetable oil to the Dutch oven and heat for about 3 minutes. Add the coated beef cubes to the hot butter and oil mixture and brown. Once the meat is browned remove it from the Dutch oven and set aside.
  6. Add the onions and sauté with the brown sugar until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the the bacon and garlic and sauté for an additional 5 minutes. Once the bacon is cooked, add the beef back into the pot.
  7. potjie layersLayer the vegetables on top of the beef.  Tomatoes, potatoes and carrots in that order. Pour in the mixed herbs, a little salt and pepper, bay leaf, beef stock and beer.
  8. Close the lid and do not open it for one hour. Once you see steam coming from under the lid, reduce the coals and simmer. After 1 hour check the fluid level and add more beer if needed. Close the oven back up for another 30 minutes
  9. Check the veggies, if they are cooked remove the Dutch oven from the heat.  Remove the lid and stir once or twice, don’t overdo it or you will end up with mashed potatoes and carrots. This is the ONLY time you stir the ingredients, it is what separates a potjie from a stew.
  10. Give it a five or ten minutes to think about what it’s done, serve and enjoy.


#1 Rhonda 2012-12-07 20:47
I have got to guys are SO inspiring! We weren't going to bring our dutch oven along when we hit the road and do make up some damn good food in our campers kitchen but damn, I think that baby is coming along just so I can make this!

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