Lamb waterblommetjie bredie is an iconic South African dish from the Western Cape and cooking it in a potjie (cast iron pot) low and slow over the coals takes it to the next ‘local is lekker’ level. You can just as easily do this on the stovetop, and I give both instructions below.
This is a very simple dish that relies on a good amount of time in the pot and the core ingredients to give it flavour. Waterblommetjies have a gentle and unique taste, so you don’t want to drown this out with strong herbs or spices. They are in season in early winter and if you find them, stash a bag in the freezer for later use.
Jan Braai (another local treasure) shared his recipe and method of making a waterblommetjie potjie with me. He would probably roll his eyes that I used lamb knuckles instead of a mix of stewing lamb pieces, but I’m a food stylist after all and the less fatty photogenic lamb knuckles appealed to me more. It was totally delicious.
I added an extra potato and used lamb stock instead of vegetable stock. I also used 800gms of waterblommetjies as this was the size of my bag but you could go up to a kg if you like more.
Recipe – feeds 6 – adapted from Jan Braai
Made in a no10 flat bottomed potjie pot with a lid (this has a 3-litre capacity). This can be used on the stove pot too alternatively use another cast iron pot with a lid.
Lamb waterblommetjie potjie
- 800 gms waterblommetjies cleaned
- 1 kg Lamb knuckles or stewing lamb pieces
- 3 Tbs vegetable oil use a little less if you have fattier lamb pieces
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 onion finely chopped
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 1 cup lamb chicken or vegetable stock
- 23 potatoes washed, and cut into cubes
- Juice from a small lemon
- Ensure that the waterblommetjies are well rinsed in a large pot or bucket of salty water and cut off any stems. You can soak them overnight if they are dirty and freshly harvested.
Jan’s method to cook over the fire:
- When you’re ready to cook, heat the oil in a potjie over a hot fire. Now add the meat and the salt and pepper, and fry until the pieces are slightly brown on most sides.
- Add the chopped onion, stir and cook until soft. This takes about 5 minutes. Pour in the wine and stock, put the lid on and bring to a simmer. Then continue to simmer on low heat (a few hot coals with the odd flicker of a flame only) for 1 hour. Check on your liquid level occasionally. If the pot runs dry, you have too much heat under it. Add a bit of water and scrape away some of the coals. The meat takes longer to cook soft than the waterblommetjies – that’s why the meat goes in first.
- After 1 hour, stir the meat well, then add the potato cubes and stir them into the meat. Replace the lid and let simmer for another hour.
- Two hours into the process, take off the lid and place the waterblommetjies on top of what is already in the potjie. Pour over half the lemon juice to top it off. Grind another bit of salt and pepper over everything, replace the lid and simmer for another 30 minutes until the waterblommetjies are cooked to your liking.
- Don’t stir as the waterblommetjies are delicate and will break apart. We are making potjie, not soup. The pot should never cook dry. If you can’t hear any liquid bubbling and want to check the liquid levels at the bottom of the pot, gently wedge the spoon down the side between the food and the pot. Add a little more water but only if necessary.
- When the meat is tender and the waterblommetjies cooked to your liking, remove the potjie from the fire and let it rest for 10 minutes. Serve with white rice.
- AND ...For bonus points and a medal, swap the lemon juice for freshly chopped surings (wood sorrel) from the veld.
To cook this on a stovetop:
- Do everything as per above except first brown the meat then remove it from the pot. Then brown the onion in the fat before returning the meat back to the pot. Cook on the smallest gas burner at the lowest setting for the same amount of time (2.5 -3 hours in total)