There are only three things in this world about which I consider myself an expert.
One, I’m an expert on me.
Nos. two and three have to do with food.
Macaroni and cheese, of course. Even my grandchildren — especially my grandchildren — say it’s true. I take them at their word.
I use my Grandma’s potpie recipe, but I learned the ins and outs of making it from my mom, who also made a mean potpie.
You’ll notice I spell potpie as one word — no space between the “pot” and the “pie.” That’s how Grandma spelled it, so that’s how I spell it.
But just in case you’re tempted to call us a couple of York County hicks who don’t know how to spell, permit me to advise that the Webster’s NewWorld Dictionary, second college edition, also spells potpie as one word.
Now many of you, York County natives or not, might have some experience with potpie that would lead you to think the only way to eat the stuff is with a crust over the top of it. Or top and bottom, totally encased in a crust. Then baked.
And that is how some people prefer their potpie.
But here in York County — at least in the Hicks family going back five or six generations that I know about — we prefer our potpie boiled.
I once had a co-worker — not from around these parts — who considered himself an expert on chicken potpie. He said there was no potpie worth eating if it wasn’t covered with a crust. But he’d never eaten my boiled potpie. So I made some and brought it to work to share with my co-workers.
Though he practically gagged on his words, he did actually admit my boiled potpie was the best he’d ever eaten. Then he had another helping.
One more thing. There are lots of ways to make potpie, and I’ve eaten most of them — chicken, beef, turkey, ham, sausage. I’ve known people to make potpie out of rabbit, squirrel, venison and pigeon, too, but I’ve never tasted it.
But here’s the latest — and I mean in just the last couple of years: Some cooks are making potpie out of crab, lobster and clams, as well. I’ve tried it. I like it. But I’ve never made it myself.
- 3 cups flour
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 legs, 2 wings, 2 thighs, 2 breasts of chicken (or about three pounds of your meat of choice)
- 8 potatoes cut into bite-size chunks
- 4 carrots
- 4 stalks celery
- 1/4 medium onion, finely chopped
- Pepper to taste
First things first: Preparing the chicken (or your meat of choice) and broth.
Put three quarts of water in a 6- or 7-quart soup pot, or enough to cover the meat and vegetables by at least one inch — a normal Dutch oven won’t be big enough.
Place the meat in the pot, add two carrots and two stalks celery (with leaves attached) in large chunks, onion, parsley, salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil and continue to boil until the meat is thoroughly cooked — chicken about 15 minutes, longer if it was frozen.
Once meat is done, remove from pot to cool. Once cool, pick the meat from the bones and set aside for later. One point to remember: The dark meat of the chicken (and the skin) makes the tastiest broth.
While picking the bones, remove all the vegetables from the broth, using a strainer of some sort. These vegetables were only to add flavor to the broth and will be too soft to eat.
Once you have a clear broth, add cubed potatoes, two diced carrots and celery, parsley, salt and pepper, and bring the broth back up to a low boil.
While doing that you’ll want to make your noodles. Combine the flour, milk, eggs and 1 teaspoon of salt together to make the dough. I use a fork to do this, but I’ve seen other cooks do it by hand. If too dry, add a little more milk. If too wet, add a little flour. When thoroughly blended, cut the dough ball in two.
Lightly flour the board, and the dough ball (so it won’t stick to the rolling pin) and roll the dough out, changing directions at will, until dough is fairly thin, about the thickness of two quarters stacked on top of each other.
Using a butter knife or some other cutting tool — I use a pizza cutter, and it works great — cut the dough into 2-inch squares, or whatever is your preference.
Once the broth is brought back to a full boil, drop the dough squares into the broth one piece at a time — yes, this takes a little time — dropping with one hand and stirring with a wooden spoon with the other to keep dough from sticking together or sticking to the bottom of the pot.
The dough will sink to the bottom of the pot when it’s dropped in, but when it’s done cooking, it’ll float to the surface of the broth.
Do not bother to shake flour off the dough, because it will work nicely to thicken the broth as you add the dough.
The potatoes, carrots and celery will continue to cook throughout the noodle cooking process, and they will all be finished around the same time. If the noodle preparation is going to take you longer than 10 minutes, do not add the vegetables to the boiling broth until the noodles are ready to be dropped. Or you could make the noodles in advance; it won’t hurt for them to dry out a little bit.
Add parsley at the end. Add picked chicken back into the broth. Stir thoroughly.
When fully heated, it’s done. Ready to eat.
-You can reach Larry at firstname.lastname@example.org.