Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Grandma's Boiled Pot Pie

I have no less than three pot pie recipes in my collection. Two are very similar---baked in the oven with a dough topping or crust. This one is different.

This is what I grew up thinking pot pie was like. My Grandma would make it and it was my absolute favorite thing she made. Rolling out the noodles is a lot of work, so we wouldn't get it every time we visited their farmhouse in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, just on rare occasions. Pot pie was said as one word, kinda like pah-pie. It was until I was in upper elementary school before I was introduced to what others called potpie. Even for years after that, I couldn't understand why they called the baked aberrations pot pie.

Getting this recipe was a bit of a challenge. Like all good family heirloom recipes this wasn't written down. When I asked my Grandma for the recipe several years, she tried to write it out for me. I attempted to make and had to call her to have her help me figure out what she meant and what I was meant to do. I still use making pot pie as an excuse to call and talk to her.

The noodles are basically an egg pasta (duh, right?). I used the Pennsylvania Dutch method of rolling it out, which is pure elbow grease. I think I may be sore tomorrow from my rolling workout (I am serious--it used serious abs and arm muscles). I understand now why I didn't attempt to make this last winter when I was a 5 + months pregnant. The recipe itself goes fast if you have cooked chicken and broth in the freezer, which I did. The whole house smells wonderful. There is no better cold winter's day meal.

My Grandma's recipe didn't include kohlrabi. I've also made this with some turnips thrown is as well. The original versions only has carrots, peas, celery, and potatoes. I however, use this recipe as a good excuse to use up some of the root vegetables that have been collecting in my fridge.

January 2018 edit:  Last fall I went to Lancaster and watched my uncle make this.  He wasn't fighting with the dough nearly as much as I normally do.  It doesn't need to be so hard, I realized as I watched.  Thus I did some research when I got home, tweaked the recipe the a bit and now my noodles are even better!!

Grandma's Boiled Pot Pie

2 qts + 2 c chicken broth**
3 c cooked chicken, chopped**
pinch of saffron
3 medium sized potatoes, cut into large bite-sized chunks
1 c celery, diced
2 - 3 carrots, sliced
1/2 - 1 c frozen peas
2 kohlrabi, peeled and diced
a teapot full of boiling water

2 1 /2 c flour
1/2 t salt
2 eggs + 1 egg yolk
1 t butter
1/4 - 1/2 c water

**can substitute one whole uncooked chicken. Cover chicken with water in a large kettle and boil until cooked. Use the liquid for the chicken broth. Remove the chicken from the bone when it is cool enough to handle.

To make the dough: On the counter or work surface, put the flour and salt. Make a well in the flour and add the two eggs and butter. Mix with a fork until a shaggy dough forms.

Mix flour, eggs, and butter together with a fork in a large bowl.  Add water, starting at 1/4 c and continue to mix.  Add up to a 1/2 c of water, until dough holds together (it shouldn't be gritty or coarse).  Transfer to counter and knead until dough feels soft and "dough-like" (almost like bread, not quite that far, but almost).   Form into 2 round balls. Let sit for 15 - 30 minutes. Roll out on a floored surface as thinly as possible. Cut into 2 - 3 inch squares with a knife. If the middle of the dough is significantly thicker than the edges, continue to roll out squares after they are cut or cut the edges first, roll at the middle some more, and then cut the middle. Set aside. Do not stack the dough. It will stick together and you'll have to start all over again (with the rolling out).

Once the dough has been cut, begin the soup. Bring the chicken broth to a boil in a large soup pot. Crumble a pinch of saffron into the boiling water. Add the potatoes and kohlrabi and cook just until the potatoes are tender. Drop the dough squares over the potatoes when the broth is boiling vigorously. Do not overlap dough. Broth should boil over squares before more dough is added. Occasionally add some carrots and celery. Once almost all the dough has been added, add the peas. If the pot pie is starting to look dry and there is not much broth boiling over the dough, add some boiling water (the boiling water is better than cold water because it allows the pot pie never to stop boiling). Continue until all dough has been added. Add the cooked chicken last. Taste and season with salt and black pepper as desired. Serve hot!

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