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A potjie is an Afrikaans word for a cooking vessel used outdoors over an open wood fire. It has also become the term for a stew-like recipe or meal cooked in the vessel over the open fire. And alas, it has even become a verb: “We’re going to potjie this weekend.”

Smoky Lamb Knuckle Potjie
Cook inside or out!


  • seasoned flour
  • 1.2 kg lamb knuckles, sawn in slices (by your butcher!)
  • olive oil
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 2 large carrots, sliced
  • 4 celery sticks, sliced
  • 2 red peppers, ribbed and cut in small dice
  • 4 – 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated (or to taste)
  • 15 ml smoked paprika (or to taste)
  • 2 bay leaves (preferably fresh)
  • 250 ml prepared lamb or beef stock
  • 2 x 410 g cans Mexican tomato relish (or plain tomato mix)
  • salt, freshly-milled black pepper and sugar, to taste
  • dried red chili flakes (optional or to taste)
  • more garlic and smoked paprika (optional or to taste)
  • parsley, chopped

Chef's hint: Woollies sells a rather delicious bottled sauce made from tomatoes and smoked chipotle chilies. It’s a terrific addition to the ingredients. Just add as much as you like when you add the canned tomatoes. It will big-up the smoky taste even more!


Dredge the meat in the flour and shake the excess off. Lightly brown the meat in batches in the oil and set aside.

Heat some oil in a large saucepan (or in a potjie over the coals) and sauté the vegetables until soft and golden. Add the garlic and smoked paprika (to taste) and the bay leaves. Stir well and add the meat, the stock and the canned tomatoes. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat (or scrape some coals out from under the potjie), cover and simmer for about 90 minutes or until so tender that you can remove the meat easily from the bone with a fork. During the cooking time however, you need to check in once in a while and add a little water if necessary. Be careful of adding more stock as it may be quite salty. And wine, sorry, may just hijack some of the gutsy-earthy tastes of the lamb, vegetables and smoked paprika. If you have too much sauce at the end of the cooking time, increase the heat and allow to bubble rapidly without a lid on until the sauce is reduced and thick – you don’t want a thin and mingy sauce. You want a real clinger to stick to the meat.

Finally, taste and adjust the seasoning to your liking with any of the remaining ingredients, then sprinkle with parsley and serve with any accompaniment you fancy.

In honour of the Mexican canned tomato mix inspiration and coupled to the smoked paprika, I usually serve this with creamy yellow polenta and pass around bowls of avocado and cucumber salsa, grated cheddar cheese, sour cream, and coarsely chopped coriander leaves (cilantro).

Serves 4 - 6.