Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Cooking Vintage: Pot Pie with wild game (or chicken if you like!)

Both my family and my husband's family are Pennsylvania Dutch. Therefore, it goes without saying that we eat "real" Pot Pie, especially in the winter. Most of you probably have a very different idea of what "pot pie" is, and I won't blame you for thinking that it's like chicken and vegetables with a pastry crust on top.

It most certainly is not, Marie Callendar to the contrary. Around here, we make that plenty, but it is called "meat pie", since there is nothing to do with a pot.

Real, Pennsylvania Dutch-style pot pie, or "bot boi" in the dialect, more resembles brothy soup with noodles. I usually make it with wild game, as that is primarily how we feed our family, but you could certainly substitute a whole, cut-up chicken (or chicken legs) for the squirrels that I'm using here. Or even just vegetables- but you will need to use eggs and dairy in the noodes, so I don't think you could do a vegan pot pie. (Yes, I said squirrels- next time you see them hanging around your bird feeder, you can use this to threaten them!)

Whatever meat you decide to use, make sure that you trim off any fat or skin, because you do not need that greasy-ness in a dish like this. (Obviously, we take the skin off the squirrels, but there is virtually no fat to trim. Wild game is not bred to be fatty, like conventional meat.)

In a large stock pot or dutch oven, cover the meat with water, add some salt and pepper and two peeled and sliced garlic cloves. Let that simmer for an hour or two, then add a chopped onions, carrots and celery. (Note gratutious shot of my aqua Club cast aluminum dutch oven! ;)

Simmer the meat and vegetables for another hour or two until tender. Remove the meat to a separate bowl to cool and bring the broth & veggies to a boil while you make the noodles.

Sift together 2 cups of flour and a pinch of salt. Add 3/4 cup sour cream and one lightly beaten egg. The sour cream gives the noodles a nice bite and also some elasticity that you would not get with butter.

The dough should be fairly wet and sticky (not dry like a pie crust)- add some milk if you need more liquid.

Roll out the dough on a well-floured surface to about 1/8-1/4 inch thick.

 Cut the dough into 2" squares with a sharp knife- this is the classic "pot pie" noodle shape, but if you wanted to make them skinnier, no one would care!

Add the noodles to the boiling broth.

Let them cook for about a half-hour, while you prepare the meat.

Separate the (by now, cooled-off) meat  from the bones. With squirrels, this is very labor-intensive, but with chicken it should go pretty fast. Discard the bones.

Add the meat back to the pot and about a tbsp of fresh chopped parsley.

Heat it through and enjoy real PA Dutch "pot pie"!


  1. Oh my! Squirrel...Did you eat some as a child or you learn to eat it with your husband and in-laws?

    Are there times of the year you prefer to hunt them, because they're certainly fat at this time here!

    What other unusual kind of game do you eat? I'm sorry I'm so curious and full of questions; I was raised with styrofoam packed meat from the supermarket so this is quite exciting for me!

    I might try the recipe but with chicken thighs.

  2. I've had fresh killed deer,chicken,duck & steer (oh & fish) but i can't say i've ever had squirrel or anything like it.I admire the fact that you live off the land ,i don't know if i could bring myself to eat squirrel though unless i absolutely had too.I had trouble eating quail too ,i just couldn't bring myself to cut into that tiny little body.It's funny because i've cut up a cow & i've eaten frogs legs & snails but the thought of eating a cute little furry woodland creature makes me squirmy.
    Please don't think i'm criticising you at all ,i'm not, just saying i couldn't do it .
    Thanks for posting the recipe,i might try it with chicken instead.:)

  3. Chicken legs work great. Squirrel tastes just like chicken thighs, but not so greasy. (They may seem fat at this time of year, but it's really just a heavy coat- there's only a bit of fat on the body.) I never ate them until my husband & his dad brought some home, and I didn't know what to do with them- so I used this recipe. If you think about it, squirrels eat acorns (just like the very best European hogs that are made into $$$$ Serrano ham) so the meat is very mild. I'll try just about anything once!

  4. Wow,hi Susie!!
    Firstly,thanks for visiting my blog! I'm following you too,now!
    I'm really intruiged by this post,as I a)don't know much about Pennsylvania Dutch,but have always been interested, and b)this sure isn't pot pie as I know it,and I'm fascinated that you are using squirrel! Have you heard of an English fellow by the name of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall? If not,you might enjoy him,he cooks and eats anything,even road kill,and I admire his ethics!
    I look forward to reading more about your adventures!

  5. Thanks Helga- no I haven't heard of him- will have to look him up. Never ate road kill, although I know of someone who has!