For Chuck and me, February has been a month full of Community Food. First there was the Second Annual Animal Shelter spaghetti dinner, where a $5.00 donation got me a plate of spaghetti, red sauce, 2 meatballs, roll, coleslaw and dessert. The next week a donation of $5.00 each to the local Girl Scouts got us spaghetti, red sauce, LOTS of meatballs, garlic bread and dessert. Last night we had slippery potpie, pepperslaw, some killer home-made bread and dessert at a local church. Wednesday will tie up the month with the County Democrats Jefferson-Jackson dinner, where a $20.00 ticket will get us a trip through a buffet, with political speeches to follow.
I like this kind of community fundraising. The food isn’t always great, but the money goes for a good cause, and it is certainly cheap enough. Since we are relative newcomers to the area (we have lived here for only 10 years) we generally are eating at a table full of people we have not met before, and that is always interesting to me. And in the case of last night’s Slippery Pot Pie, we got a local experience that really was beyond price.
My husband moved here to Central PA a few months before the kids and I did; we stayed in St. Louis to get the house sold. Within a few weeks of arriving, he called to tell me, with awe in his voice, “Wednesday night is Pot Pie night at the Select!”
He went on to say “This pot pie is like nothing you have ever had before; it is SO GOOD!” And from that point until the rest of us got moved to town, my Wednesday night phone call always mentioned pot-pie; either he got there on time and all was good, or he had to work late and when he got arrived he was told "The pot pie is all," meaning there was none left.
Slippery Pot Pie is a Pennsylvania Dutch dish, actually more like a stew than what I grew up calling a pot pie (Something in gravy, in a crust, that my mother bought 5 for a dollar at the grocery store and fed us when she and my dad were going out to dinner.) This Wikipedia article explains why it is called Pot Pie, when it is not in the least pie-like (it is made in a pot, at least.) Slippery Pot Pie can be made with beef, ham, chicken or turkey; last night we had beef. Vegetables are added at the cooks discretion, and what goes in a pot pie is apparently the source of small but fierce skirmishes among little old ladies across South Central PA.
What all Slippery Pot Pies have in common is the noodle, made from flour, fat of some sort, egg and water. The noodles are cut into 1 to 2 inch squares, and slipped into the broth to cook. The resulting stew has thick, doughy noodles in a slightly thickened broth. This recipe is an melding of a recipe from More With Less Cookbook, the recipe my son's mother-in-law shared with me for her pot pie, and my need for garlic and color in my food. The More with Less Cookbook is published by the Herald Press from recipes contributed to the Menonnite Central Committee. I’ve used this cookbook for over 20 years, and have loved it.)
Slippery Pot Pie
1 large chicken, cut into pieces, OR 1.5-2 pounds beef, pork, ham or turkey
2-3 qts water or broth, can use bouillon cubes if desired, too
salt and pepper.
Cook the meat until tender, remove from bones and cut into bite sized pieces
Prepare vegetables and set aside: (all vegetables added at the discretion of the cook, but potatoes seem to be pretty constant)
2-3 potatoes, cubed
1 onion, chopped,
2 stalks celery, chopped
(These next two are my addition, while you might see carrots somewhere, I doubt any local pot pie cook puts garlic in. And as to carrots, it is my experience that most traditional PA Dutch foods tend to be beige in color…)
2-3 carrots, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
Pot Pie Dough
2 C all purpose flour
1/4 C water
1 Tbsp oil (Can use lard or shortening if you prefer- if so, cut in with knives or a fork)
pinch of salt and pepper
Mix flour and egg together with salt and pepper. While mixing, add the oil to it and then slowly add water. If it becomes sticky add more flour. Form into a ball, let the dough rest a few minutes.
On a floured surface, roll out as thin as possible, cut into 1 to 2 inch squares. I use a pizza cutter.
After cutting, let them lay on the counter, DO NOT stack them up because they will meld into a large lump of dough.
Add the vegetables to the chicken and broth, cook until vegetable are tender, then slip the dough squares into the broth. Cook 5-10 minutes, then serve.
While it seems like this would be the sort of food served in a bowl, around here they eat it on a plate, and last night, garnished with chopped raw onion.