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South African Oxtail Potjie Recipe

The South African Oxtail Potjie is a traditional stew cooked outdoors in a potjie, a three-legged cast-iron pot, over an open fire. This particular dish is a crowd-pleaser, perfect for outdoor gatherings in the summer months. It combines the rich flavors of oxtail meat with layers of vegetables and spices, all melding together to create a delicious, hearty meal. Below are some key highlights from the article by Gary Dunn:

What is a South African Oxtail Potjie?

  • Potjiekos: This is a traditional South African dish usually cooked outdoors in a potjie.
  • Oxtail: The oxtail lends the dish its intense meaty flavor.
  • Vegetables and Spices: In addition to the oxtail, layers of vegetables and spices add complexity and depth to the stew.

Cooking Process

  • Open Fire: Typically, a potjie is cooked over an open flame, often during social gatherings.
  • Steps: The recipe involves various steps and layers.
  • Outcome: When done, the meat is tender, the vegetables are soft, and the broth is rich and flavorful.

Social Aspect

  • Patience: While the potjie requires time and patience, it’s often cooked in a communal setting, making the waiting part of the social experience.


  • 2 kg oxtail, cut into sections
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 2 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 2-3 tomatoes, chopped
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • 2-3 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 2-3 whole cloves
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 2 cups beef or vegetable broth
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Cooking oil


  1. Heat a large potjie pot or heavy-bottomed pot over the fire or stove.
  2. Add a bit of cooking oil and brown the oxtail pieces in batches until they are well-seared. Remove them and set aside.
  3. In the same pot, add more oil if needed, and sauté the chopped onions until they become translucent.
  4. Add the minced garlic and sauté for another minute.
  5. Layer the browned oxtail pieces back into the pot.
  6. Add the sliced carrots, cubed potatoes, and chopped tomatoes.
  7. Insert the bay leaves, thyme sprigs, and whole cloves among the meat and vegetables.
  8. Pour in the red wine and beef or vegetable broth.
  9. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  10. Cover the pot with its lid and let the oxtail potjie simmer gently over low coals or on the stove on low heat for about 3-4 hours, or until the meat is tender and almost falling off the bone.
  11. Check the potjie occasionally to ensure there’s enough liquid and it’s not sticking to the bottom. Add more broth if needed.
  12. Once the oxtail is cooked to perfection, serve it hot with sides like steamed rice or crusty bread.

Overall, South African Oxtail Potjie is a culinary delight that captures the essence of South African outdoor cooking. It is as much about the process and the social gathering as it is about the sumptuous meal that results. Enjoy your delicious South African oxtail potjie, a flavorful and hearty dish perfect for outdoor gatherings and sharing with friends during the summer months!

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