Monday, March 20, 2006

The Pot Pie War

Pot Pie! That wonderful dish of meat and potatoes in a rich gravy tucked away between two flaky pie crusts, a true comfort food. Right? Wrong. At least if you're Pennsylvania Dutch it's wrong.

I came from a family that made traditional pot pie-a lovely stew baked in a crust, the stuff you could buy in single serving size from the freezer at the supermarket (only better) and named the same. So, when I met my mother-in-law and the subject of pot pie came up I was entirely confused by her version.

I argued that my family's version was right, even the one in the store had the same name! No, she insisted, pot pie was so named because it was made in a pot and what we were eating was simply called "Chicken Pie" because well, it was.

I had to concede there. I mean, where on earth did the name "pot pie" come from in reference to what the rest of us were eating? The name the PA Dutch were using seemed far more fitting~they were, in essence, making a chicken pie, but they were making it in a pot.

So, for your perusal, recipes from both sides of the battle, the traditional Pennsylvania Dutch version, and the one the rest of us eat, even if it is poorly named. Either way, there's no arguing the fact that both are delicious.

Pennsylvania Dutch Chicken Pot Pie
Pennsylvania Dutch Pot Pie

Pennsylvania Dutch Chicken Pot Pie
(added February 18, 2013)
Printable Recipe

One 3 - pound chicken or 2 pounds chicken breasts - bone and skin on or off
8 cups chicken stock - divided
2 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 bat leaf
salt and pepper to taste
3 large potatoes scrubbed, peeled, cut into quarters then thickly sliced
1 double pie crust

1. Heat 6 cups stock and garlic in a large heavy-bottomed pot to boiling. Add chicken, bay leaf and thyme and reduce heat to simmer. Cook until chicken is completely cooked through.
2. Remove chicken and bay leaf, cool until chicken is easy to handle. Remove skin and bones and cut into bite-sized pieces. Set aside.
3. While chicken is cooling, heat stock back to boiling and add potatoes. Reduce heat once again to a simmer and cook until potatoes are halfway done.
4. Roll pie dough to 1/8" thickness and cut into 1-inch squares. Add remaining 2 cups stock to pot, bring to a slow boil and drop dough squares into stock. Add chicken back into pot and cook until pie squares look "slippery". Remove from heat and serve.

Chicken Pot Pie

1 chicken
3 onions
pastry (they don't specify here but, mom-in-law uses a basic pie dough)
4 potatoes
Salt & pepper

Wash, clean and cut chicken into individual portions. Place a layer of
chicken in the bottom of a large iron kettle and cover with thick
slices of raw potato, then with slices of onion and salt & pepper.
Roll dough out rather thick and cut in 2 inch squares and place on
top of onion. Continue until kettle is filled having the top layer of
pie dough. Add water to cover contents halfway. Cover kettle tightly
and cook over a low flame until chicken is tender.

Pennsylvania Dutch Cook Book - Fine Old Recipes, Culinary Arts Press, 1936.

Dutch Pot Pie

3 eggs
1/2 c milk
1 ts soda
1/2 ts salt
parsley, minced
1 tb butter, melted
1/2 c cream
3 c flour

Beat eggs, add milk, cream, soda, salt and melted butter. Mix well.
Gradually add flour until dough is stiff enough to roll. (May require
up to 4 cups). Roll on floured board and line a cooking kettle with
the dough. Place a large piece of butter in bottom of kettle and add
peeled and quartered potatoes alternately with small pieces of the
dough. The top layer should be potatoes. Sprinkle with salt, pepper
and minced parsley. Dot with butter. Add 1 1/2 to 2 cups water. Bake
at 350-F about 3 hours.

Pennsylvania Dutch Cook Book - Fine Old Recipes, Culinary Arts Press, 1936.

Chicken Pot Pie

1 cup potatoes, diced
1 cup chopped onions
1 cup celery, diced
1 cup chopped carrots
1/3 cup melted margarine
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup half-and-half
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
4 cups chopped cooked chicken
2 frozen pie crusts

Saute onion, celery, carrots and potatoes in butter for 10 minutes. Add
flour to sauteed mixture, stirring well. Cook one minute stirring
constantly. Combine broth and half and half. Gradually stir into vegetable
mixture. Cook over medium heat stirring constantly until thickened and
bubbly. Stir in salt and pepper, add chicken, and stir well. Pour into a
shallow 2 quart casserole dish. Top with pie shells. Cut slits. Bake at 400F
for 40-50 minutes or until pastry is golden brown and filling is bubbly and
cooked through.
***This is one of those things that I just don't have a recipe for. My basic method is to make pie dough for a 2 crust pie and then make a basic chicken stew; chicken, potatoes, carrots, onions, and gravy; and then line a 9x13 pan with 1 pie crust, add the "stew", top with the remaining crust and cut a few slits in the top. I bake the whole thing at 350° until the crust is a golden brown and the "stew" is bubbling up through the slits in the dough. Check out the recipe I eventually posted HERE.


The Cookbook Junkie said...

Two weeks ago Chicken Pot Pie was on the menu in the lunchroom upstairs. I wondered which version it would be. I grew up on the (frozen) pastry crust-type but this is a strong PA-Dutch area. It was the pastry-crust type (double crust too - sometimes you only get a crust on top).

I was happy. Very happy.

eyes_only4him said...

you wont belive this..but I have NEVER had a pot pie..

I dont like gravy or crust, I am guessing that is why..

But they do smell hubby likes them..

we make somethign called meat pie..

mashed potaoes, gravy, chiken or beef cut into peices, corn, beans or peas..mix it all togheter..put in a pie shell and cook it..

Anonymous said...

I have always wanted to try to make chicken pot pie. I like the crusty pastry outside and the creamy fillings inside. I might try one of your recipes.

Anonymous said...

I have always wanted to try to make chicken pot pie. I like the crusty pastry outside and the creamy fillings inside. I might try one of your recipes.

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

I always thought of chicken pot pie as a pie,filled with chicken and veggies, typified by the frozen Swanson version. I always hated it because it contained vegetables I hated (like peas). Then I went to college in PA Dutch country and saw chicken pot pie not on the serving line, but in the soup bar. I looked at that bowlful my friend, a local to the area, that looked like chicken noodle soup with extra large noodles and said, "That is not chicken pot pie." My friend assured me that to the PA Dutch folks, it certainly was.

My own version is chicken and vegetables I like in gravy or bechemel ( depending on mood) topped with a layer of homemade biscuit dough. Untraditional, but it's my favorite.