The Mom referred to is Odessa Simpson, who taught me to make this awesome dish in her 150-year-old kitchen. This is comfort food at its very best — rich, heavy, simple Pennsylvania Dutch cooking. It doesn’t look beautiful on your plate, but you just might find yourself going back for thirds.
This is the kind of recipe that gets handed down from one generation to the next. If you are not part of such a rich tradition, as I am not, the next best thing is to learn it from a kindly cook and take a video camera along.
2 C all-purpose flour
1 T baking powder
1 t salt
2 T Crisco
Some cold water in a measuring cup
Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Cut in the Crisco until it’s evenly distributed. Mix in 2 eggs. The result will be a crumbly dough. Carefully add water, a tiny bit at a time, and mix with your hands until the dough forms a ball. If you add too much water, add a little flour again.
Take about a third of the dough and put it on a well-floured counter or board. Flour a rolling pin and roll the dough out flat, very thin. Odessa has a dark-colored knot on the board she uses to roll the dough; if you can see the knot through the dough, it’s thin enough. If it starts to stick, add flour liberally to the board and the rolling pin.
The edges of the rolled dough don’t have to be perfect. When the dough is rolled out, cut it into 2-inch squares. At this point, you can spread the noodles out on baking sheets covered in waxed paper and sprinkled with flour and let them sit for a day. Or you can proceed to boiling them immediately.
The Other Components
12 chicken legs and thighs
3 large potatoes
6 14-oz cans chicken broth
Additional chicken base (bouillon) and water
Bring the chicken legs and thighs to a boil in a large pot. When the meat is done, remove them and save the broth. Debone the chicken, saving the bones and skin, and bring them to a boil again to make more broth. You’ll need lots and lots of broth — we probably used almost two gallons.
Peel the potatoes and cut into 1-inch dice.
Cooking the Pot Pie
Bring the chicken stock (not including the canned broth) to a boil in a couple of large stockpots. Add the potatoes and cook until fork-tender. Now it’s time to add the noodles.
Carefully add the noodles, a few at a time, to the simmering broth. Don’t add noodles right on top of each other, or they will clump together. After you add a few noodles, watch the broth until you see areas of boiling broth and then slide a few more noodles into those places. This is not a speedy process.
Carefully stir the noodles and potatoes to keep them from sticking to the bottom. Halfway though, you’ll need to add the canned chicken broth, and you may need to add several cups of reconstituted chicken base as well.
When all the noodles have been added, stir in the precooked chicken meat and remove from heat.
This is a rich and heavy meal. Serve it with a light salad, such as pepper cabbage (non-mayonnaise based coleslaw) and a fruit dessert.