I told Janet that I felt like doing a lamb potjie for some friends on the weekend, "Who should we invite?" She rolled her eyes, "Can't we just have a quiet weekend together?" but it doesn't work like that - "I need something to blog about love, and besides we've got those lamb legs in the deepfreeze, we need to use them up and anyway we owe Tony and Laura a lunch, and what about Frank.....?" I let my sentence trail off and then I had a brainwave; drop the subject until later.
Bright and early Saturday morning after our cup of coffee I got the spa bath filled up with hot water and some aromatic foam and I had the bottle of JC LeRoux sparkling wine in the ice bucket, as we relaxed in the hot bubbles with a chilled glass I found the right time to broach the subject; "So what do you think about a nice lamb potjie lunch tomorrow love?"
"Hmm yes, that could be quite nice, I could make a sweetcorn souffle' to go with it." she said, the warm bath and the cold wine were obviously working their magic.
"I'll invite Tony and Laura and Frank shall I?"
On Sunday morning I started preparing for my pot, I had already thought that I would like to fry the vegetables in the rendered down lamb fat so I trimmed it off the leg while I was heating up my trusty pot.
Once the pot was good and hot I threw in all of the fat, it was way more than I needed but once there was a good little pool of aromatic fat simmering in the bottom of the pot I removed the excess.
Already the smell coming out of the pot was awakening the taste buds! Into the simmering oil went a chopped onion, a chopped green bell pepper and some sliced celery. When these were nicely sweated down I added a tablespoon of crushed garlic and a teaspoon of chopped ginger.
In the meantime I hacked all of the meat off the bone, chopped it into bite sized chunks and flavoured it with Aromat, salt, pepper and mixed herbs;
The bones were later boiled with vegetables to make a lovely stock which we froze in small containers to use for future meals. Then it was time to chuck the meat into the pot and stir it around to brown.
I keep the flame good and high to brown the meat nicely and then after about ten minutes I add the main ingredient;
a bottle of Castle Lager. At this point I also make up a gravy with a cup of red wine into which I stir a soup powder and a mutton stock cube, now it is simmering time, I turn the heat down and put the lid on and leave the pot for an hour. I go and drink and chat with my friends.
Check on the pot during this time, taste the gravy to see if anything must be added, check if the meat is getting tender and one hour before you are due to serve add the hard vegetables such as the potatoes and butternut squash. Turn the heat up a bit to increase the simmer because all of the fresh ingredients you have added will cool the pot down
Janet surreptitiously reminds me that I must add my mushrooms and butter beans or my cabbage by asking; "Have you put the mushrooms/butter beans/cabbage in yet darling?"
This tells me two things; one, she has prepared them for me and two, I should put them in now. I then say something like; "I'm not quite ready for them yet dear." I wait long enough to make it look like it's my idea to put them in but not long enough to ruin the pot.
I stir the mushrooms and butter beans in, pack the cabbage on top and let it bubble away for a while and it wasn't long until my friends were enjoying a typical South African meal;
Sadza (miellie meal pap), sweetcorn souffle' and lamb potjie.
My friends enjoyed the meal and later I will tell you what we did to use up the left over sadza the next day - damn that was good!
The aloes in our back garden flower just before the winter sets in with a vengeance, which is what they did that afternoon.