Searching For The Birthplace Of Chicken Pot Pie In Lancaster Pennsylvania
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Great eating means great recipes. Together with Campbell’s Sauces, we present “The Source,” where we look back at the origins of some classic preparations, from around the country and around the world.
Chicken pot pie is an all-American comfort food. But the most iconic version of it from Lancaster, in Pennsylvania Dutch country has its roots in English dishes made from leftovers. The Pennsylvania Dutch added noodles, and the rest of the country made it a standby. In this episode of the “The Source,” we head to the Keystone State in search of chicken pot pie.
Plus, here are five things you didn’t know about chicken pot pie.
The recipe for chicken pot pie originated in England, but what makes Pennsylvania Dutch country pot pie so different from others is the noodles. Bott boi noodles are square egg noodles that came from German and British traditional cooking styles. Chicken pot pie began as a recipe used to stretch the weeks leftover meat, and adding thick square noodles to the mix of broth, potatoes, vegetables, and chicken.
How To Make Pa Dutch Pot Pie Noodles
Making the pot pie noodles Amish is really very easy. Whisk the eggs in a bowl, add water and salt. Mix. Add flour and mix until it all comes together in a ball.
Sprinkle a thin layer of flour onto a clean spot on your countertop. Place your dough on the flour and spread out a bit with your hands. Lift the dough and sprinkle more flour underneath and sprinkle flour over the top as well.
Roll out the dough with a rolling pin until its fairly thin. I hadnt made this dish in a little while and remembered that I left it too thick the last time. So I rolled it about as thin as I could get it. But sadly, this time it was too thin for my taste. Next time Ill get it just right! But I would say roll the dough to somewhere around an eighth inch thick.
If your dough wants to keep sticking to the countertop, just lift the edges and sprinkle more flour underneath.
After you have it rolled to the desired thickness, use a pizza cutter and slice it into about one and a half-inch strips in both directions, to make little pot pie noodle squares.
Pennsylvania Dutch Chicken Pot Pie The Most Comforting Of Foods
I remember having this for a school lunch very often. Much more filling than chicken noodle soup, I present to you the Pennsylvania Dutch style Chicken Pot Pie.
So yes, the majority of the country hears Chicken Pot Pie and they think of chicken, veggies, with a gravy saucy substance, baked in a pie. But for me and many others in a particular part of Pennsylvania, that just isnt what we think of. The first mentioned item to us is simply chicken pie. Ours is more of a thick soup. Enough to fill your belly and keep you warm on a cold winters night.
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So Why Is It Called Pot Pie
Now that you know a bit about the Pennsylvania Dutch and how they have their own German/English combination language. The name evolved from a dish called Bott Boi which is a dish made with a broth made from meat, in this case chicken. The broth is thickened with potatoes, other vegetables and dumplings or noodles. Thickened soup being the bott boi. Even German has evolved the name of this dish to Eintopf. If you ask the older generations who swear this one is the right one theyll tell you its because its made in a pot. And that is the end of that argument.
However, there is the other kind, you know, the one with the crust. I stumbled upon a blog post about PA Dutch Chicken Pot Pie vs the other kind of Pot Pie. The author emailed William Woys Weaver, the author of As American as Shoofly Pie: The Foodlore and Fakelore of Pennsylvania Dutch Cuisine. Ill link to her full post, and how one of her older relatives supports the idea of its made in a pot as the explanation behind the name.
When asked about the soup vs crust versions of Chicken Pot Pie, Weaver tells the author of the Susquehanna Life Blog:
- cup milk up to 1/4 if needed
- ½ tsp baking powder
While the broth is simmering, sift dough dry ingredients into a mixing bowl. Next, dice or break up butter and add to your bowl.
Beat the egg and add to the bowl along with milk and mix to desired dough consistency. The dough should hold together and have a slight stickiness to it.
For the Soup:
Making A Flour And Water Paste
Meanwhile, put the flour into a cup, make a thin paste by slowly adding a little warm water, as youre vigorously stirring with a fork or whisk. (If you add too much water without stirring enough it will get lumpy. But if you add only a little water, immediately stir to make a paste, and then keep adding water until its a liquid consistency, it should not get lumpy.
Or you can mix your flour and water in a gravy shaker. My mom-in-law always uses one of these to make her gravy thickener. I never found the need for using one, as I have mixed my gravy paste in a cup or bowl all my life and it usually doesnt get lumpy. But if you havent learned the trick to getting your thickener nice and smooth, you may want to try a gravy shaker. Tupperware has a well-loved one Im listing a link here, in case youre needing one
Once your homemade pot pie noodles have cooked for about twenty minutes, slowly add the flour paste as youre stirring to thicken it a bit. It only needs to boil for another minute, then it should be done and ready to eat. And there you have chicken pot pie PA Dutch style!
This chicken pot pie can be served as a one-dish meal, or you can add a side salad. Homemade biscuits are also yummy served with this chicken pot pie, if youre not too worried about eating a lot of carbs.
This is the best PA Dutch chicken pot pie recipe!
Other items you may need
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Pot Pie Noodles Pennsylvania Dutch
I start by mixing my dough for the noodles first, then cover and set aside.
In a large cooking pot, melt a tablespoon of butter, add the minced garlic clove, onion , and carrots. Saute over medium heat for a minute or two. Add water and broth, bring to a boil.
While you are waiting for this to boil, roll out your dough and cut it into squares. Once your broth has come to a full boil, add the noodle squares. It may take a minute or two to get them all into the pot, as you dont want to just dump them in. You want to make sure that each noodle hits the boiling water. If you throw a whole clump in at a time, they will stick together. You may need to use a spoon and push some of them aside as you add new ones.
Let it gently boil for about 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add peas, potatoes, chicken, and seasonings. Continue to boil for another ten minutes.
Your Guide For Where To Find Traditional Amish Food
Your trip to Lancaster County is not complete without trying authentic PA Dutch foods. And dont be selfish be sure to take some home to your friends and family!
Keep in mind there is no such thing as Amish food. The Amish dont have any dietary restrictions. However, traditional Amish foods from our area are typically categorized as Amish or Pennsylvania Dutch.
Here are a few of the most popular PA Dutch foods in Lancaster and the best places to find them.
If youve never had a whoopie pie, imagine a mini chocolate cake sandwich filled with whipped vanilla icing. While chocolate cake with vanilla filling is the most popular variety, whoopies pies are usually available in other flavors too, such as pumpkin and red velvet depending on the time of year. Whoopie pies get their name from Amish children opening their lunch boxes and hollering whoopie upon seeing the delicious dessert. When you take your first bite of this sweet treat, be sure to say whoopie with delight.
Our recommendation:The Bird-in-Hand Bake Shop
Chicken Pot Pie
This savory soup is filled with homemade noodles, potatoes, and chicken. To know if youre eating the real deal, your pot pie shouldnt be covered by a pie crust. This dish could be considered one of the most controversial foods in Amish Country. The argument is whether potatoes should or shouldnt be included in the recipe. Whats your opinion?
Our recommendation:Katies Kitchen
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Zooks Homemade Chicken Pies
Featuring one of lifes most savory and delicious comfort foods, join with those who have discovered the from-scratch meat pies that are made at Zooks Homemade Chicken Pies.
Surrounded by Amish farmlands in the heart of the PA Dutch countryside, this family owned and operated business uses special mouth-watering recipes that are making their beef, chicken, and sausage pies more famous with each passing year.
From the humble beginnings in their Amish farmhouse kitchen to a USDA inspected commercial enterprise, the quality and taste of their pies remains the same, even as the distribution has increased from one market stand to multiple stores and farm markets throughout Pennsylvania and surrounding states.
You are always invited to stop by the Zooks retail store to stock up on these quick and easy meals that are tasty and nutritious too! In addition to meat pies, Zooks has a nice selection of specialty food items, including beef and chicken stock. For those who are traveling, packaging material is available for keeping your purchases cold for the ride home.
Zooks Homemade Chicken Pies3427 Lincoln Highway East
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Pot Pie: The Lancaster County Way
Hand-in-Hand Fire Company in Bird-in-Hand started its popular pot pie supper in 1994 as a fundraiser for the fire company and the Clinic for Special Children in Strasburg. Pennsylvania Dutch Convention and Visitors Bureau suggested the idea, so fire company President Tim Hoerner and a few volunteers set out to do some serious research.
They tried pot pie at restaurants and pot pie at fire company fundraisers. Hoerner, who grew up near Pittsburgh, calls himself more of a beef guy.
By and large, one of the first things we learned was the nonprofits made very good pot pie, he says. Some of the rest, it was OK, and others were top-notch.
LancasterOnline readers favorite restaurants for pot pie
- Route 30 Diner
- Miss Calees Eats and Treats
- Cracker Barrel
In the early years, the fire company soon realized cooking whole chickens made the richest broth.
The taste is a lot better, and the flavor is just more profound, Hoerner says. It tends to be thicker.
These days, they take it a step further by raising their own flock of free-range chickens.
The pot pie dinner is one of the biggest fundraisers for the nonprofit. The midnight before the big day, volunteers start cooking the chickens and eventually make pot pie, 30 to 40 gallons at a time.
Hand-in-Hands pot pie has chicken, noodles and potatoes.
Bob Reed loves the pot pie his fiancee Denise Warfel makes. She starts with a chicken in the pressure cooker. She rolls out homemade noodles and adds potatoes.
The Benefits Of Chicken Pot Pietext And Photography By Jordan Bushfebruary 2021
This Lancaster County staple is often the money-maker for area fire companies that sponsor benefit dinners. Dig a little deeper and youll discover its also what helps to bring a community together. For the most part, the pandemic unfortunately caused the cancellation of these time-honored benefits during 2020. As we welcome a new year, many companies are hopeful that they will be able to get back on track. One company that vows to carry on with its fundraiser in one way or another is the Hand-in-Hand Fire Company in Bird-in-Hand, whose chicken pot pie dinner has become legendary.
To be honest, I have always considered chicken pot pie to be somewhat dull. The pastry is often overcooked and mushy , the chicken flavorless and seasonings wanting. As a result, despite being a local, I never understood what the hoopla over chicken pot pie was about.
That all changed three years ago, when a friend waxed poetic about having the best chicken pot pie of her life at Hand-in-Hand Fire Company.
Feeling the meal was undeserving of such praise, my eyebrows furled. However, over the years, Ive learned to trust her opinion . So, I added the 2019 Chicken Pot Pie dinner to my calendar and decided to check it out.
The sign outside of the Hand-in-Hand Fire Company is the final of many that lead the way to the annual event that is held the Saturday after Presidents Day each February.
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Pennsylvania Dutch Chicken Pot Pie Recipe
- If you don’t already have some cooked chicken, you will need to cook chicken.
Making the noodle dough:
- Beat eggs in a small bowl. Add water and salt. Mix.
- Add flour and mix until it comes together in a ball. If it seems too sticky just add a bit more flour.
- Cover and set aside while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
Making the chicken pot pie:
- Put butter in a large cooking pot. Add minced garlic, onion and carrots. Saute over medium high heat for a minute or two.
- Add water and broth to pot, and bring to a boil.
- As you’re waiting for this to come to a boil, flour your surface and roll out your dough to about 1/8″ thick. Using a pizza cutter, cut your dough into about 1 1/2″ squares.
- Drop your dough into the boiling water/broth, making sure each piece hits the boiling liquid. If you pile to many in at once they will stick together. Stir.
- Boil the noodles for 15 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add potatoes, peas, chicken, and seasonings. Boil for another 12 15 minutes.
- Make a paste with flour and water to slightly thicken the broth.
- When your chicken pot pie is finished cooking, slowly add your flour paste, stirring to get it incorporated. Boil for about 1 more minute.