Ingredients for the potjie
– 2-3 kg free range Karoo lamb knuckles
– 1 onion – chopped
– 3-4 garlic cloves – crushed
– 2-3 leeks – sliced
– 2 tins good quality baby tomatoes
– 1 punnet fresh baby tomatoes – whole
– 300-500 ml organic beef stock (this gives the basic flavour to your potjie, so only the best will do)
– splash of red wine
– sweet basil – both dried and fresh
– oregano – dried
– salt and pepper to taste
– a handful grated pecorino or parmesan cheese
Dust the lamb in seasoned flour, seal and brown in a three-legged potjie, scoop out and set aside. Chuck in the onion, garlic and leeks and fry until soft, then return the sealed lamb potjie, add the tomatoes and pour in the beef stock and a splash of red wine (it should cover about two thirds of the meat). Add the dried herbs, salt and pepper, give it one stir and put the lid on. Let your potjie simmer until the meat falls off the bones (anything from three to five hours, depending on the patience of your guests). While the potjie is on the go, make a potato gnocchi, unless you had the jitters and made it the night before.
Ingredients for the Gnocchi
– 1 kg potato (Mediterranean are great)
– 300g flour (same as you would use for homemade pasta)
– 2 egg yolks
– 1 teaspoon salt
Rule Number 1 when making gnocchi: Potatoes and water don’t get along, so bake the potatoes on a bed of coarse sea salt (skin and all). Once done, cut the potatoes in half and, using a spoon, scoop the fluffy insides into a mixing bowl.
Put the potato through a Mouli (or just use a sieve) to mash it up nicely. And now the nasty bit. You want the potato to be as hot as your hands can handle because it gets the gluten in the flour working. You might end up with fried fingers, but it’s essential.
Add the flour a little bit at a time, then the egg yolks and salt. Think of something that really grates you, and while keeping your hand as stiff as possible, mix the flour into the potato by jabbing (and swearing if you have to). What you’re looking for is a wettish but workable and pliable dough that almost sticks to your fingers. Once it’s mixed, roll it into sausage-like shapes (about 3 cm in diameter) and double wrap in cling film. To ensure it’s watertight, go the extra mile and tie the ends with string.
Poach in simmering water for 15 minutes, shock in a bowl of iced water, and put in the fridge until needed.
About 20 minutes before you’d like to eat, unwrap the gnocchi, slice into medallions, submerge in the potjie and leave to simmer and suck up all those juicy rich lamb and tomato flavours.
Serve with cracked black pepper and torn leaves of fresh basil and grate cheese to taste on top.