by Eric Wharton
My Recipe Book, constantly being added to
A [Pennsylvania] German farm may be distinguished from the farms of other citizens by the superior size of their barns, the plain but compact form of their houses, the height of their enclosures, the extent of their orchards, the fertility of their fields, the luxuriance of their meadows, and a general appearance of plenty and neatness in everything that belongs to them.
— Benjamin Rush
Hinkle Bott Boi is Pennsylvania Dutch, which is translated as "Chicken Pot Pie." But to think of it as your normal pot pie would be misleading. It may sound silly to call it that, but it's so different that I use the title to differentiate it from what people call pot pie that's cooked in a pie shell. Plus it's an attention getter.
It's closer to chicken and dumplings, but to equate the two dishes would likewise be a mistake because they are quite different. Bott Boi can often contain meat other than chicken, such as turkey, beef, or ham. But the real difference can be found in the "dumplings." Chicken and Dumplings often uses a fluffy, doughy kind of dropped dumpling. In Bott Boi, more simple-to-make, pasta-like noodle squares are used, made from flour, eggs, and a little water or milk.
Some think that Bott Boi developed directly from the more widespread Chicken and Dumplings. Supposedly, the characteristic noodles were used instead of the doughy dumplings because they were a staple of their diet. A common dish in Pennsylvania Dutch cooking is Schnitz und Gnepp ("apples and buttons") which includes a stew of ham, dried apples, onions, and the same kind of noodle dumplings (called buttons).
Others, however, believe it developed separately since stewed meat broths with some kind of dumpling-like addition go far back in time, and in fact, are worldwide in nature. Regardless of how it came about, though, Bott Boi has become popular for fundraisers, community dinners, and other large-scale events because of the ease of preparing it in large quantities.
All the ingredients are easy to attain, which can include potatoes, carrots, celery, or any stew ingredient. Saffron may also be added as a flavoring and to deepen the color. This is used often in Pennsylvanian Dutch restaurants catering to their market among Pennsylvania farming communities.
I 4-5 lb fryer chicken or 4 1-lb bone-in chicken breasts
1 8-oz can chicken broth (or 2 cups)
1 8-oz can sweet peas (or 2 cups)
2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 medium white onion, diced
4 potatoes peeled and diced
1/4 cup water
1 tbsp cornstarch
2 tsp parsley
1/4 tsp saffron
salt & pepper to taste
3 cups flour
2 whole eggs
2 tbsp butter
1/2 tsp salt
milk or water, as needed
Place the chicken in a large stock pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a gentle simmer. Cook chicken for 1 hour or until cooked through. Once chicken is done, remove from the broth, reserving 6 cups. After chicken has called, remove chicken from the bone and shred into medium-sized pieces, discarding bones and skin.
To make the noodles, you could follow what I found in my mother's Pennsylvania Dutch generationally handed-down recipe: "Blent togedder da flar ent busser, den at salt ent da eks ent chust enuff milk to make the dough a liddle stiff" (translation: Blend together the flower and butter, then add salt and the eggs and just enough milk to make the dough a little stiff). But that's a little too succinct.
Try this instead. Add flour, salt, and eggs to a large mixing bow. Mix together and add small amounts of milk or water until the dough comes together and forms a ball.
Flour a counter-top, then roll out the dough until it's 1/2-inch thick. Cut the dough into 11/2-inch squares and set aside.
Add celery, peas, carrots, potatoes, onion, and parsley to the broth and add canned chicken broth. Bring the mixture to a rolling boil, and then add the noodles in one at a time to prevent sticking. Reduce the mixture to a simmer, add parsley, saffron, salt, and pepper. Let the noodles cook for 25 minutes, or until tender.
In a small bowl, whisk the cornstarch and water together until smooth. Stir the slurry into the soup mixture. Continue to simmer the mixture, stirring occasionally, until thickened (3-5 minutes). When thickened, add the chicken.
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