MONTAGU CHICKEN POTJIE

Montegu3This is a fantastic potjie recipe for a number of reasons. Most importantly, it yields a great, rich and exotic meal but equally important is the fact that you can find every single ingredient in almost any supermarket in South African cities, suburbs and the platteland. In Montagu, the picturesque town in the Klein Karoo, you can find all the core ingredients on every streetcorner. There is absolutely no preparation necessary here and once you’ve lit your fire, the food can be served within one and a half hours.

WHAT YOU NEED
(feeds 4)
8 chicken pieces (thighs and drumsticks, preferably without skin)
2 tots olive oil
1 onion (chopped)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2 garlic cloves (crushed)
fresh ginger, equal in volume to the garlic (grated)
1 tot ground cumin
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup orange juice
1 cup soft dried prunes (stones removed)
½ cup dried apricots

TO SERVE
2 cups couscous
2 cups boiling water
2 tots butter
1 tsp salt
2 spring onions (chopped)
1 tot mint (freshly chopped)
1 cup almonds

WHAT TO DO
1. Make a big fire and position your potjie on the flames.
2. Dry-roast the cup of almonds for about 1 minute. Pay lots of attention – they will burn quickly. Remove from the potjie and set aside for much later. At some stage during the party, you need to roughly chop these roasted almonds. 3. It really makes the potjie nicer if you take some or all of the skins off the chicken pieces. This is a simple process: use clean hands and pull the skin off the chicken. Now add the olive oil, chicken pieces and chopped onion to the potjie. 4. Then sprinkle the salt and pepper over the stuff in the potjie, which needs to be on the fire. Use your wooden spoon to toss things around, then fry for a few minutes until the chicken starts to brown and the onions are soft.
5. Add the garlic, ginger, cumin, turmeric and cinnamon and fry for 1 minute to unlock the flavours of the spices. Rapidly proceed to the next step before the spices burn.
6. Add the stock and orange juice and use the liquid to scrape loose anything from the bottom of the potjie that is trying to get stuck and burn.
7. Also add the prunes and apricots. Toss everything, put the lid on the potjie and let it gently simmer for 45 minutes with some coals or the odd flame under the potjie.
8. During the 45 minutes of cooking the potjie, prepare the couscous. Put the couscous in a bowl and pour the boiling water onto that. Cover and let it stand for 5 minutes and then add the butter to it. Now use a fork to flake the couscous and stir in the salt, chopped spring onion, mint and chopped almonds.
9. After 45 minutes, remove the potjie lid and gently stir so as not to break the chicken. Now let the potjie simmer uncovered for a good while until you are happy with the consistency of the sauce. Total cooking time from frying the chicken and onions should not be more than 90 minutes. You want the sauce to thicken but don’t let it completely cook away. You want the thickened sauce to drench the couscous – that’s part of the appeal of the meal.
10. Serve the chicken on a generous bed of couscous.

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