Beef trinchado potjie

Apart from being the first tourists to dock a ship at Mossel Bay, the Portuguese are also famous for a few culinary achievements. One of their best is the rich garlic and chilli-flavoured beef stew known as trinchado. Theoretically, the quantity of ingredients in this recipe means that you can serve 8 people, but in my experience it’s one of those meals that are just too good, which means everyone wants second helpings.

WHAT YOU NEED (serves 6–8)

  • 2 kg steak cubes (I use a combination of rib-eye and rump, cut into 4 cm cubes)
  • 2 tots soy sauce
  • 2 tots olive oil
  • 2 tots butter
  • 2 onions (finely chopped)
  • 10 garlic cloves (crushed or chopped)
  • 1/2 tot cayenne pepper (or chilli powder)
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 1/2 cup brandy (no, not a typing error)
  • 1/2 cup red wine (no, not a typing error)
  • 1/2 tot salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • a big handful of pitted black
  • olives (this is not an exact science)
  • 1 cup cream (250 ml tub)
  • grated rind of a small lemon


  1. Pour the soy sauce over the steak cubes. Now you need to fry the meat to seal in the juices and you’ll have to do this in batches. Generate some proper heat in your potjie by placing flames directly under it. Then add a tot of oil and a tot of butter and fry about one-third of the meat, or as much as fits in the bottom of the potjie. You could of course fry all of the meat at once if your potjie is big enough. Take the cubes out and keep to one side. Add another tot of oil and butter and fry the next third. By the time you get to the last batch of steak cubes there will be enough oil and fat left in the potjie.
  2. When the last batch of meat is browned, put back all the other meat into the potjie, unless you fried it all at once. Add the onions, garlic, cayenne pepper and bay leaves; then fry for about 10 minutes until the onions are soft.
  3. Pour in the beef stock, brandy, wine, salt and pepper. Heat until the sauce starts to simmer, then cover with a lid and continue to gently simmer for 1 hour until the meat is very tender.
  4. Remove the lid and stir in the olives, cream and lemon rind. Bring to the boil and then cook for a further 10 minutes, uncovered, until the sauce starts to get thicker.
  5. Remove from the fire and let it stand for a few minutes before serving. The generous amount of sauce is part of this meal and should be enjoyed with the meat, so serve trinchado in bowls and eat the sauce with spoons when necessary.


I know it sounds like a bit of a mission to grate lemon rind, but in some instances you really have to do it, this being one of those cases. Grating the rind of a lemon is really not a challenging job; it smells nice and it’ll make you look like the type of expert who reads this book. It adds a unique flavour to this dish that would just not be the same without it.

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  1. Patricia A
    Posted November 8, 2013 at 11:31 pm | Permalink

    Loving this taste Jan Braai – and, while I don’t actually know what a ‘tot’ is – get the feeling that this is a ‘feelin’ kind of recipe- which I am good with :) Still, I do like to actually make a recipe by the recipe – the first time, anywise – so, would much appreciate knowing just what ‘kind’ of black olives those are that you are usin’ :) Thanks much for sharing this artistry….

  2. Andre
    Posted February 17, 2014 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

    Hi Jan,

    Changed your recipe a bit. I added some tomato paste and a bit more fresh cream.
    Left the brandewyn out.

    Was awesome!!

  3. kaz
    Posted June 24, 2014 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

    How much is a tot in this trinchada recipe?

  4. Jan Braai Jan Braai
    Posted June 26, 2014 at 11:37 am | Permalink

    A tot is 25ml. That is the official measurement of alcoholic units in South Africa.

  5. Anne
    Posted June 27, 2014 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

    Colleagues used your recipe for a potjie cook-off.
    Oh . . . My . . . Word!
    It was delicious!

  6. Jan Braai Jan Braai
    Posted June 27, 2014 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

    Haha, I agree. It is quite amazing.

  7. Craig Thyssen
    Posted July 23, 2014 at 6:25 am | Permalink

    Hi Jan,

    Can the ingredients be doubled, to serve more people?

  8. Retha
    Posted August 2, 2014 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

    Hi Jan
    Can the finished trinchado be frozen and reheated for camping trips, or rather not?
    Thank you

  9. JANIE
    Posted November 17, 2014 at 7:06 am | Permalink

    Hi Jan, can we use any other meats for this dish.

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