Beer Country’s Pots, Pans & Potjies – an homage to cooking in cast iron

I did not grow up in South Africa. I didn’t grow up walking around supermarkets with no shoes on or braaiing over wood fires. And I certainly didn’t grow up cooking stews in a little three-legged iron pot over an open flame. Now I’ve never got into the whole barefoot in gross places thing, but I quickly developed an affinity for braaiing (or more precisely for drinking beer while someone else braais for me). As for potjies, well to be honest I’ve never really tried, but thanks to the latest book from cooking-over-coals maestros Greg Gilowey and Karl Tessendorf (AKA Beer Country), I am about to begin my potjie career.

Pots, Pans & Potjies is a “love letter to cast iron cooking” and the authors’ passion for the potjie in particular is evident – and contagious – from the very first page. By the end of Greg’s intro, you’re already sold on buying a potjie, or if you already have one, on rummaging it out of the garage and actually using it for something other than keeping other garage crap in.

Despite an admission that he didn’t grow up a fan of the potjie, Karl goes on to tell a tale of his dad’s favourite potjie recipe, scrawled on a “grubby piece of paper”, and ends with a hope that readers might find a recipe within to pass down through the generations on a similar scrap or paper.

I have no doubt that this will come to pass. The book is filled with delectable dishes, from potjie classics like oxtail or lamb stew, to curries, soups and a few dishes you wouldn’t necessarily think of cooking in a potjie (or at least I wouldn’t), like roast chicken or monkey gland wings.

As the title suggests though, the book isn’t solely about cooking in South Africa’s favourite three-legged pot. Split into three sections, it covers stuff you cook in pots and pans too! I haven’t yet had chance to read the entire thing – if I’m honest, it makes me too hungry – but I’ve read enough to know that the book is filled with Greg and Karl’s signature light-heartedness. Dishes take titles like ‘This Li’l Piggy Potjie’, ‘Oink and Moo Meat Ragu’ and ‘Stuff a Stuffed Vetkoek in Your Face’. The latter comes with a photo of the Beer Country pair doing exactly that; an utterly unpretentious pic amongst a whole lot of gorgeous, hunger-inducing photos of the food you’re going to try and copy.

So why am I writing about this on my beer blog? Well because there is no better time to drink beer than when someone is cooking your dinner over flames. And also because every single recipe comes with a beer pairing suggestion (Asian Beef Shin Pot Roast with an imperial IPA anyone?) Greg and Karl have been a part of the Cape’s beer scene for years (indeed, they’re actually still busy constructing their stand for the 2016 Cape Town Festival of Beer) and their latest book is the first beer-related book to be published in SA since, well, since their last one. 

More than a cookbook it is, as Greg and Karl say, a love letter to cast iron cooking, with sections on the history of the potjie, prepping your pot, a little legend and lore, caring for your little cast iron buddy, and some tips on how to become the next queen or king of cast iron cuisine. “The potjie forces us to slow down. It moves to the beat of its own bulging belly,” reads the text, so grab a six pack of your favourite and a seat by the fire while you flick through the pages of this sexy book, planning out your weekend gatherings for the next six months.

Pots, Pans & Potjies is published by Penguin Random House and is available from all good book stores, plus likely a few average ones as well. RRP R360


  1. Chantell

    This is an amazing book that takes your cooking to the next level. We have tried so many recipes from this book (and their first one), that they will have to write faster and come up with more ideas! We are totally hooked on both Beer Country’s books and their quirky notes.

    Our favourite part about the book is the measurements- a dash of this and a hand full of that. Nothing like the old boring recipe books our mothers have.

    I highly recommend this book to anybody! And like Lucy said, get lots of beer for this as some recipes need time (and enough beer) and helps you to slow down a bit.

    • Lucy Corne

      “they will have to write faster”… There was a joke about this at the launch. Seems cooking isn’t the only thing that Greg and Karl like to take slowly… 😉


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