Sunday was the day of the annual Parkview Potjie competition, we participated but it was not without incident!
Pamella asked if we could enter and I agreed, after all, I’ve never been to a Potjie competition or ever really cooked one, but, you know, how hard can it be? A size 10 (30 litres) pot, no problem!
Wanting to link into the shop with our theme, we called our team The Marketeers, and decided it was like Pirateers, so we would use a pirate décor. Shiver me timbers and all that.
I carried out a test run on the preceding Saturday, in the yard behind the shop, which entertained the restaurant staff, all much more experienced in cooking over a fire. It went quite well but then it was only a size 3, the staff seemed to enjoy it, so I felt encouraged.
Early on the Saturday when it was supposed to be the time to prepare things, the cable thieves chose our local substation again, for the fourth time in a month, to fill their coffers with copper. Instead of potjie preparations we switched into power cut survival mode, and there I was again driving up and down to my house trying to at least get the orders baked while the staff coped with the challenges at the shop.
The Bird Rescue
For some variation and to avoid the new bumps on 4th Avenue I used 1st Ave quite a bit. On one trip I noticed a small bundle of feathers in the road, thinking it must be dead I drove on, but then, noticed out of my rear-view mirror, a fluttering wing. I threw on the brakes, causing a veritable tsunami of quiche ingredients to overwhelm me. Hazards on, I jumped out and scooped up the poor little fellow who didn’t seem to have any obvious damage. He rode home in my hand while I navigated the traffic circles driving one handed.
I popped him in a shoe box while I cleaned the tsunami debris. He seemed OK so, on my return, I stopped off at the same location, there might be family in the area. I peeked into the box to check, he burst out, did several laps of the inside of my car and came to rest at the farthest end of the dashboard.
I lunged wildly, but was left grasping three tail feathers. Panicking a bit, wondered if he would still be able to fly without them.
Luckily he could, and came to rest perched on the clutch peddle, awkward, but I managed to get him, open the door and off he went, high into a tree with much to regale the others with tales of hit and run, kidnap, imprisonment, and finally heroic escape, all in the space of an hour.
I got up at 4:30 Sunday to pack the car and head off to find our spot in the park. I then unloaded speedily as the organisers were anxious to get cars out. After wrestling the pirate chest, boxes of ingredients, tablecloths, treasure map, utensils, blackboard etc out onto the ground with people casting pitying glances and muttering “shame, haven’t she got a team?”.
Soon Anne arrived with Fikile and Pamella everyone got to work scattering gold coins, putting up sails, splicing the main brace, carrying coals. All the worrying about if it could possibly be ready in time.
Despite being midwinter the sun was intense, our gazebo didn’t offer a lot of respite, the heat from the pot enough to singe the hairs off. Raffaella saved the day by re hydrating us with Gin & Tonics all round.
The judges were finished and all the potjie served. We collapsed exhausted only to remember there was all the packing up to do! It was about Wednesday before I felt normal again, worth it though when we heard the Nicarela Charity raised some R115,000 through the event. It was a fantastic achievement by all the teams who really went to a lot of effort.
We cooked lamb, a dish that we called Spice Island Lamb, based on a Moroccan Tajine recipe, Fikile and Pamella made a tomato, chili, onion & lime salsa to add some spice and the dish was served topped with buttered, toasted almonds to add a bit of crunch.
- Overfilling the pot is not a good idea and a size 10 is really big.
- Prepare a fancy sales pitch for when the customers come around choosing where to “spend” their tickets.
- Plan the presentation of the dish to the judges and take appropriate props, duh!
- If you throw “gold” around you will attract lots of children.
- Some people keep their cars by them.
- A sheet and a couple of spray cans can make a treasure map and you can buy spray on blackboard.
- Gin and Ginger is a great alternative to G&T.
- Dogs allowed to run around free will poop wherever they like.
- Hire a pot, (we did), then you won’t have to take it home and clean it.
Thanks to Fikile, Pamella, Anne and Raffaella for being awesome team members.
Spice Island Lamb– more or less.
½ cup cooking oil
1 Kg lamb sausages (pick and pay make lovely ones)
2 kg Lamb (we used braai chops)
4 cups chopped veggies (we used carrots, parsnips, fennel, leeks but use whatever you fancy)
4 onions, chopped
3 Tablespoons tomato paste
2 Tablespoons grated ginger
4 Cinnamon sticks, whole
2 cups chopped dried apricots
1 Tablespoon Turmeric
1 Tablespoon ground Cumin
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
800ml stock (we used Ina Paarmans beef stock, the one in sachets)
400ml white wine
Salt to taste
Brown the onions in the oil.
Layer in the meat and then add all remaining ingredients.
Sit back, cross fingers, and wait about 21/2 hrs whilst topping up the coals from time to time.
Season with salt to taste
The tomato, fresh chili, onion and lime relish was just that, with just enough chili to your own taste and tossed with slices of lime and vinegar.
I cooked flaked almonds (1/2 a cup) gently in butter (100g) with a couple of cinnamon sticks and some bay leaves, until nicely browned.