Hearty Oxtail Potjie

Oxtail Potjie is a childhood favourite of mine and my dad is it’s master.  I have modified his recipe ever so slightly, just so I could add my 2 cents worth in there hehehe.

In my not so humble opinion, to be able to pull off a decent Potjie, there is a few things you need to be able to do…

The Four Rules of Potjie:

  1. Taste and adjust seasoning – If you are looking for the part of the recipe that specifies how much salt and pepper (in grams) you should add, you are not ready.
  2. Hold your liquor well – Potjies can take a long time to cook, this one for instance goes about 5-6 hours.  The men I know will not be able to sit around a fire for 6 hours without having “a few drinks”.  This is of course encouraged, but if you have a few too many and neglect to give your potjie the attention it deserves, you are not ready!
  3. Know your fire –  You have to be able to judge how much wood / coal you would need to cook the Potjie. Having ot run to the shops to get more wood halfway through the Potjie is NOT a good sign.   You also need to be able to maintain consistent heat under the Potjie as required, if you are trying to do that with huge wood logs, you are quite probably not ready.
  4. Know your ingredients – You need to know how long each of your ingredients needs to cook at what kind of heat to get your stamp of approval.  If you find yourself chucking in everything at the beginning and then just stirring the resulting mush around until the meat is tender enough, your are not ready (unless of course you like mush, in which case we will label you as weird and let you slide on this one)

Ok now that we have cleared that up, we can continue with the actual cooking!

You will need:

(I made a big pot of the stuff, you will need to chop and change the amounts accordingly, it does not need to be spot on.  This batch could have served 6 people that are big eaters)

  • 1 cast iron Potjie of adequate size
  • 1 big bunch of carrots, peeled and sliced into 2-3 cm chunks
  • 8 medium potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 2.5 Kg’s Oxtail pieces
  • Salt and pepper for seasoning
  • Lots of water
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 sachet Knorr Thick Vegetable Soup


Let’s get cracking!

First off season your oxtail pieces generously with salt and dust with the flour.


I made this Potjie at a friends house and when I arrived to assess the situation I realised that the wood might run out if we do all the cooking on the fire,  so I decided to do this first bit on the gas hob in the kitchen.

On medium high heat, brown the Oxtail pieces in some vegetable oil.  (I don’t normally use vegetable oil much but I find it works best for Potjie)



When you have browned the meat sufficiently, it should look something like this.



Add your onion slices.



Cover with water and bring to the boil.



Once you reach a rolling boil, turn the heat down so it is still boiling, but at a much slower rate.  This step can take up to 4 hours,  you want to slow cook the meat till it is tender. As this happens the gelatin in the bones will come out to play and start forming a sticky sauce with the gravy already in the pot that a good oxtail is known for.  Do not rush this process by turning up the heat!  Let it cook slowly, check in on it every 30 minutes, give it a good stir and top up the water, you can keep it covered in water.



At this point we moved the Potjie out to its natural habitat, the fireplace.



Once I gauged the meat as being 45 minutes from perfect,  I added the veggies.  I specifically keep the veggies to a minimum.  To me Oxtail is special and it’s taste should not be over-run by too many different kinds of veggies.  Apply the KISS principle, Keep It Simple Stupid!



Let that cook until the veggies are ready.  You do not want it to turn to mush, so check regularly.  When you are almost happy with the veggies, empty the contents of the soup sachet into a little bowl, add boiling water and stir into a paste, then add to the pot and stir well.



After the soup has cooked through (about 10 minutes) you can adjust the seasoning and you are done.  Serve on a bed of white rice with some crusty bread (Potbrood is best) on the side.  Go on and dip the bread in the sauce, yes it is probably not all that healthy, but the smile on your face will be worth it!


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Author:Fritz Brand

Passionate Foodie, Blues Man, Photographer, Technology Geek and all round cool dude.

28 Responses to “Hearty Oxtail Potjie”

  1. April 24, 2011 at 9:48 pm #

    *sigh* Thank goodness my belly is full of 10 hour roast lamb and gammon, malva pudding and Lindt Easter Bunny….. otherwise I could just get hungry again. This looks so delish! :) Hope you had a fab day xx

    • Fritz Brand
      April 24, 2011 at 9:55 pm #

      Thanks Colleen, Woah sounds like you had a mean Easter! Had a great time thanks, took mother dearest out for lunch :)

  2. April 25, 2011 at 5:16 pm #

    Love the tutorial and love the end result!!!

    • Fritz Brand
      April 25, 2011 at 5:19 pm #

      Thanks Nina!

  3. April 26, 2011 at 7:48 am #

    You cannot beat a good oxtail potjie – and I agree to keep the veggies to a minimum, I sometimes omit the spuds in the pot and add butter beans at the end of the cooking process just to warm through and serve with mashed potatoes.
    :-) Mandy

    • Fritz Brand
      April 26, 2011 at 11:46 am #

      Thanks Mandy! The butterbean and mash thing sounds great, will give that a try next time!

  4. April 26, 2011 at 12:42 pm #

    I love Oxtail and this potjie sounds excellent. I totally agree about the KISS principle!

    • Fritz Brand
      April 26, 2011 at 12:59 pm #

      Cool, most of the time less is more!

  5. April 26, 2011 at 5:12 pm #

    Fritz this potjie method looks great cant wait try on the weekend

    • Fritz Brand
      April 26, 2011 at 5:15 pm #

      Thanks Lynette, please let me know how it goes!

  6. April 28, 2011 at 9:14 am #

    I love the Four Rules of Potjie. Brilliant. #2 is especially important, as a 6 hour potjie means that there are 6 hours of wine drinking. I think this sometimes can make the meal taste better, though. Hehe.

    • Fritz Brand
      April 28, 2011 at 10:34 am #

      Hahaha thanks yea that is probably the most important rule, many a potjie has been messed up due to infringements on that rule!

  7. Meggles
    May 6, 2011 at 8:25 pm #

    Thank you Fritz! I made your potjie and people loved it. I wasn’t ready at all, according to your rules of being ready but it turned out great :D

    • Fritz Brand
      May 7, 2011 at 1:49 am #

      Great news! Thanks for the feedback Megs, glad it worked out so well for you :) If you managed to pull it off without being “ready”, you must have the natural talent!!

  8. Nahani
    May 26, 2011 at 10:32 am #

    Wow! What a good looking recipe! Love your blog! Could you maybe add a recipe for making potbrood to go with the potjie, as I had once tried it and ended up with a pot full of carbon seeing as I had no idea for how long or warm to keep it on the fire…

    • Fritz Brand
      May 26, 2011 at 10:35 am #

      Thanks Nahani!

      I have been meaning to get a potbrood recipe together for some time, I am not an expert either, but I will experiment and get it sorted! Thanks for the visit!


  9. Dante
    June 6, 2011 at 4:32 pm #

    I discover your website today,i like it.I am a potjie koning and i know my potjie stuff.I can give you a choice of 20 different potjies i can made.I once made a oxtail potjie for 50 people.You are welcome to mail me(if you want to)

  10. July 22, 2011 at 6:07 pm #

    Oh yumyumyum! I have some oxtail in the freezer and have been looking for a good potjie recipe – this could be the one! Thanks :)

    • Fritz Brand
      July 22, 2011 at 6:20 pm #

      It’s the one I tell you! Keep it simple, oxtail is magic stuff, give it a chance to shine:) Please let me know how it turned out if you do try it, cheers!

  11. Ryan
    August 23, 2011 at 10:13 am #

    Fritz, I am off to the bush for a few days and will try your recipe. It looks scrumptious.

    • Fritz Brand
      August 23, 2011 at 10:17 am #

      I could do with a bit of a bush break right now! Thanks dude, give it a try and please let me know, always looking for feedback :) Enjoy!

  12. September 26, 2011 at 3:58 pm #

    Oh. My. Goodness. I am such an oxtail fan – this looks and sounds bloody fantastic Fritz! Bookmarked for next weekend away.

    • Fritz Brand
      September 26, 2011 at 4:03 pm #

      Thanks Jaclyn! It IS bloody fantastic I tell ya! Main thing is to take your time with it, it CAN be cooked faster if you are in a rush, but oxtail should go slow and steady to really make it shine :-) Please let me know how it turns out for you if you try it.

  13. Cyon
    June 29, 2013 at 3:25 pm #

    Fires goin! Pots ready… Now to get a drink in hand and try out this recipe!

  14. Jakes Stapelberg
    August 31, 2014 at 10:51 pm #

    Hi Fritz,

    Thanks for this great potjie tutorial, I am busy with my oxtail potjie as we speak …

    Cheers from a cold Canada

    • Fritz Brand
      October 29, 2014 at 4:45 pm #

      Hi Jakes, sorry for the heavily delayed reply, your comment got lost in the SPAM pile. Hope your potjie turned out well! Cheers

  15. April 7, 2015 at 5:26 pm #

    Subsequant to your radio interview on RSG I did your lamb neck. Had to buy a flavour injector from Yuppiechef first. All I can say is that everyone around the table said that they will never do a roast leg of lamb in future, instead it will be nneecckkkk. LEKKER!!!!

  16. Mikee S
    March 25, 2016 at 9:23 am #

    Great format for laying out a recipe – love the pix and simple explanations
    Would like to suggest that you add some variants at the end of the recipe like

    Veggies variants: try either these 3 veggie variations potato carrot and parsnip or butternut etc etc
    Seasoning : mixed spices or garlic and chili or Lemmon grass and garlic
    Other ideas : to try banana or pomegranate
    These based on your experience as an old hand,
    Ps an old friend made chicken an apricot! As a new recipe, mine is oxtail an ostric

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