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What’s cooking today: Ginger chicken potjie roast



What’s cooking today: Ginger chicken potjie roast

Tony Jackman’s ginger roast chicken in a potjie. (Photo: Tony Jackman)

This is an early contender for my recipe of the year, so I’ll take that as a challenge set for myself. It’s the most successful to date of my potjie-roasted chicken recipes. It’s stuffed, golden brown, and it turned out to be madly, joyously succulent. Best get that potjie out this weekend…

The first time I roasted a chicken in a potjie was an experiment that worked. I had not expected it to; thought it would be a soggy failure. Far from it: it came out succulent, crisp and golden and I realised then and there that there was more one could do with a potjie than fill it with meat and vegetables, pour a bottle of wine in, put the lid on and forget about it until the mush was ready to slop on a plate.

A potjie, when red hot, is a mini oven. So you can roast a chicken in it with great success. What’s more, it comes out not only crisp and golden brown, but fall-apart tender and wildly succulent. It’s a dream.

I’ve done it with rosemary, with cumin and lime, and with sage butter. This time, it was ginger all the way: fresh, pickled pink ginger, and ground. It also has a ginger stuffing, the first time I’ve stuffed a chicken before roasting it in a potjie. Finally, I made ginger butter, plenty of it, to become the fat in which the fowl is cooked.


1 large whole chicken, wing tips removed


1 red onion, chopped

Olive oil

3 garlic cloves, chopped

1 x 4 cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced into tiny slivers

2 Tbsp pink pickled ginger, chopped

2 slices day-old bread or equivalent breadcrumbs

1 cup of chicken stock

1 egg, beaten

Salt and black pepper


½ cup salted butter

1 tsp ground ginger

Salt to taste


Make the stuffing: Heat a little olive oil in a pan, add onion, garlic and ginger and cook gently for 5 minutes while stirring. Add the chicken stock and chopped pickled ginger, stir, then cook for 2 or 3 minutes more for the liquid to reduce a little. Add the breadcrumbs and stir. Leave to cool to room temperature. Beat the egg and stir it in.

Prepare the bird: Snip off the wing tips. Season the cavity with salt and pepper and spoon as much of the stuffing in as it will hold. Discard the remainder (it’s hard to quantify how much stuffing will fill a given bird’s cavity so there will inevitably be too much). Season the outside of the chicken with salt and black pepper.

Make the ginger butter: Toast the ground ginger briefly in a small saucepan and add the butter. When it melts, cook very gently for 5 minutes, then leave to steep off the heat.

Finally, get the potjie going: Heat a large potjie with coals underneath it and add all the ginger butter. When the butter is melted and hot, put the whole chicken in, breast side down; it should start sizzling immediately. Cook for 10 minutes uncovered, then use two wooden spoons, one at each side, to flip it over. Cover and cook for two hours with a few coals underneath at all times and a few on the lid. Turn the bird twice more during those two hours. It will be good with this hasselback potatoes recipe. DM/TGIFood

Tony Jackman is Galliova Food Writer of the Year 2021. His book, foodSTUFF, is available in the DM Shop. Buy it here.

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Mervyn Gers Ceramics supplies dinnerware for the styling of some TGIFood shoots. For more information, click here.


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