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Not all pies are sweet

Chicken Pot Pie1 / 2
Chicken Pot Pie ready to go into the oven.2 / 2

As I pulled this recipe from my file the other day, a thought popped into my mind:

Why is this called a pot pie as opposed to just a pie?

0 Talk about it

The pot pie seems to be an American thing, a name contrived to distinguish the savory pastry from the sweet variety. In other countries — particularly the United Kingdom — it would simply be a pie, the word having a broader connotation.

A quick Internet search didn’t turn up much about the origin of the pot pie, except that it is a “term for a type of baked savory pie with a bottom and top completely encased by flaky crusts and baked inside a pie tin to support its shape.” I assume the “pot” refers to that tin.

Or maybe the name is a variation on a Pennsylvania Dutch specialty. In that region, there is a dish called “bot boi,” a stew made up of meat, square-cut egg noodles, potatoes and a stock derived from onion, celery and parsley.  Bot boi = pot pie? It may be a stretch, but it’s one theory.

During my growing up years in the Rickers’ household, the pot pie was something of a special treat. It was not part of DotMom’s repertoire, however. The only pot pies I ever consumed back then were of the frozen variety, a convenience food that was allowed when Mom and Dad were going out for supper on a Saturday night. The pot pie — be it chicken, turkey or beef — was always served up with a side of cottage cheese, an accompaniment I still enjoy.

But I haven’t heated up one of those frozen pies since this homemade version was shared by friend Cheri a few years ago. It takes advantage of one of my favorite convenience products — refrigerated pie crusts — making it relatively painless to put together.

Notes from the kitchen:

* The original recipe specifies 1 teaspoon onion flakes; I have substituted chopped onion because I prefer the flavor.

* I most often use a frozen mix of carrots, peas, beans and corn in this recipe, but it is also good with a California blend or just broccoli. Turkey (think Thanksgiving leftovers) or beef can also be substituted for the chicken; if using beef, use beef bouillon.

* To keep the pastry edges from getting too dark, cover with foil or use a metal pie ring.

  *Toward the end of the cooking time, the filling will try to escape from the crust. Be sure and put a pan under the pie to avoid a mess in the bottom of your oven.

Daily Globe Features Editor Beth Rickers can be reached at 376-7327.

Beth Rickers

Beth Rickers is the veteran in the newspaper staff with 25 years as the Daily Globe's Features Editor. Interests include cooking, traveling and beer tasting and making with her home-brewing husband, Bryan. She writes an Area Voices blog called Lagniappe, which is a Creole term that means "a little something extra." It can be found at  

(507) 376-7327