Sunday, February 25, 2007

Community Food and Slippery Pot Pie

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 egg
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.


sher said...

One of our family recipes on my mother's side is "Chicken and Dumplings", and they are made just like pot pies. It's one of my favorite foods to eat and everyone wants it when we go down South. We don't care about the chicken, we just love those "dumplings." Loved those pictures.

Willa said...

I'm the same way about chicken and dumplings- the other stuff in there is OK, but I do love the dumplings! Our traditional ones are big and fluffy- (probably Bisquick LOL!) but I really like the soggy part where they have sucked up the chicken juices...

mcshawnboy said...

Willa,you sound like a very interesting person! I was not familiar with the term,"Autodidact"
but Upon Googling it I too am one. It doesn't sound very grammatical,but as a child of 9 or 10 my father would leave me in the Main Pratt Library,Baltimore,MD as he did work on his Master's thesis. I ranged from exhibits in the Maryland Historical Society collection to reading trade magazines of agriculture,concrete, waste,aviation & multiple hard bound resource"The Thompson Tomcats". So many books,so little time!". Tales of Homer,the mundane life of Machiavelli with disputes of firewood cutters & his neighbors of minor debts. I so much enjoy,the modern middle ages. I worked at a dairy store where the manager regularly ordered too much milk,they'd give it to me and I gave to our cooks guild to make cheese to enter in competition,how cool! Thanks for the Slippery Pot Pie recipe,I've made it before,but it was years ago,but well loved! Is it possible to raise alpacas economically? I have a friend who's crazy about fiber too! She wants me to build her a wheel.Shawn

Connie said...

I've been making slippery pot pie for years using either chicken, beef, ham (my favorite), or my husband's favorite which is squirrel. Personally, I prefer watching squirrels play so I don't eat them, but my husband says they are delicious. I'll just take his word for it. I was searching recipes and wondered if others made their pot pie the same way I do and I found that some do and some, like you, add eggs. I will try adding eggs the next time I make it and see if it makes it more tender. Sometimes mine tends to be a bit chewy. I'm not sure if it is because of the humidity on the day that I make it or if I overwork the dough but the eggs may solve the problem. It is an inexpensive yet delicious meal that seems to warm your heart as well as your belly!

Cynthia said...

My husband grew up in Harrisburg, PA and has such great memories of this dish. He had been asking me to remake it and while searching for recipes I came across your delicious post. The recipe I finally settled on is a bit different for anyone interested: Pennsylvania Dutch Pot Pie. My husband says this tastes exactly like he remembers it.