Pennsylvania Pot Pie

If you know me at all, you know that cooking/baking is not really my "thing."  Some women are great at sewing, some are wonderful with kids, some can make a meal that would have a gourmet chef bowing down in awe... for the record, I am NONE of these types of phenomenal women!  However, of all the talents and qualities a woman can possess, I would love to be able to cook, bake, and subsequently bask in the awe of my adoring family and friends!

Alas, this is not the case...

I truly envy those women who just have a knack for putting together delicious meals and who genuinely enjoy the time spent cooking - I'm looking at you, grandmothers of the world!  Truth be told, I find cooking to be too time consuming and stressful for the outcome.  For example: tonight I spent over an hour preparing pot pie, a dumpling-like version of the traditional family favorite, and it was enjoyed for a total of 10 minutes.  And Matt didn't even eat much of it!  It is times like tonight that I so desperately wish I could whip up something delicious in a moment's notice and have everyone love me and my cooking
Is that too much to ask?!

Cooking scares me.  Like, REALLY scares me.  So much so that Matt, my husband of a year and a half, has tasted my cooking a total of 9 times.  If that!  I just don't like doing it.  The fear of failure combined with my lack of motivation to cook worries me for a number of reasons:
  1. If I plan on being the stay-at-home mom and wife I want to be after my career as a drug rep comes to an end, I'm going to have to feed more than just my cat Marnie twice a day.
  2. I only have a few "staples" that I know how to cook, and I'm not saying I know how to do them well.  And none of them are particularly nutritious!  One of my favorite things to make are Auntie Anne's Pretzel Dogs - hot dogs wrapped in pretzel dough, smothered in butter and enjoyed with ketchup.  Ahh, how gourmet!
  3. I have some tough acts to follow: both of my grandmothers are amazing cooks and have set the bar high.  Too high.  My dad (and my mom, when she wants to) are both able to cook very well.  My dad is great at "eyeballing" the amount of ingredients and it always seems to work out perfectly... what the heck?!  How do you even do that?!
Anyway, enough grumbling...
The point of this post was for me to share the recipe to making pot pie the way I grew up loving pot pie.  This recipe was given to me by my dad, who got it from his mother, and so on... I have yet to make it like either one of them do, but I'm trying.  If anyone has ever made this type of pot pie and would like to share their recipe, tips, or suggestions - PLEASE DO!  I'd love to know I can improve this.
When I say "Pennsylvania" pot pie, I mean that it is closer to a dumpling dish than the typical pot pie made by Marie Callender and found in the frozen food aisle.  Don't ask me where this version comes from, I don't exactly know, but it probably has German or Amish heritage in there somewhere.  All I do know is that is delicious and has been a family staple for many years!

The version I like to make is with ham, since I can take a few "shortcuts" and it seems to make the cooking go a little faster.  However, both chicken and beef will work too.  Also, I know you can add vegetables and other things to the mix, but I've always had an affinity for blander foods, so this dish is pretty plain and basic.


Ham Pot Pie*
2 cups flour
1/2 cup milk (whole milk works best, but I often use skim)
3 T. shortening, melted
1 large egg
1/2 tsp. salt 
Potatoes (as many as you would like, cut how you would like)
Ham + ham bone
   *you can double, triple, or quadruple the ingredients depending on
     how many you are feeding

  1. Begin by boiling the ham bone in a large pot of water. Let simmer for 45 minutes to an hour. (This was a HUGE ham bone that my family had leftover from our Christmas dinner.  It still had a good amount of ham left on the bone, so it helped flavor the water.  You can cut off the ham that is left on the bone for use in the pot pie after it is done simmering, but I take a "shortcut" and simply use cubed ham and add that in with the noodles/potatoes... yea, I'm lazy.)
  2. As the ham bone is simmering, begin to make the dough for the noodles by combining all ingredients and mixing in a large bowl.  Bring the ingredients out of the bowl and begin to knead the dough.  After the dough is completely mixed/kneaded, roll out the dough and cut into squares.  (I prefer the dough to be thicker so that the noodles are thick and yummy.  Also, you don't have to cut the dough into squares, any shape will work.  Heck, use some cookie cutters if you want to!  That'd be fun!)
  3. Peel/cut the potatoes.  (I prefer to cut the potatoes into small-ish pieces and leave the skin on... but do whatever your little heart desires!)
  4. Remove the ham bone from the water (cut off any ham that you want to use in the pot pie) and add the noodles, potatoes, and ham.  Continue to simmer the pot pie over medium-high heat for about 20-25 minutes.  (Test the pot pie frequently, especially the potatoes, to make sure everything is being cooked thoroughly and to your liking.  I tend to cook the pot pie a little less because I like slightly gummier noodles... so sue me.)
  5. Serve and enjoy! 

I know it doesn't look like anything special, but I think it is still pretty good.  Normally, the pot pie should be a bit creamier and not look like simply noodles and ham, but I haven't exactly figured out what I'm doing wrong or missing to contribute to the "lack of creaminess" in this dish.

As you can see, I am no chef and my presentation of the pot pie is lacking, but we will chalk that up to me being a terrible cook and this being my first "recipe" post.  Again, let me know if you or your family has a recipe for pot pie you enjoy.  Feel free to comment with any tips/suggestions you have!

1 comment:

Jen said...

That's so cool to see how people make dishes differently. I have never heard of using any meat other than ham in it!

I'm sure I wouldn't cook as much as I do now if I were working. I think you'll enjoy it more when you have more time at home.

On the thickness of the broth, I would just make it with russet potatoes instead of red. They have a much higher starch content, and you'll find that they thicken the pot pie nicely.