What Makes Amish Chicken Pot Pie Taste So Different

When most people think of an old-fashioned chicken pot pie recipe, chances are they think back to the version of the dish they grew up eating. It could be a double-crust pie with a creamy chicken filling, a puff-pastry-topped casserole dish of chicken and veggies, or a skillet version topped with store-bought biscuit dough and baked in the oven. Even though you might have one ur-chicken pot pie in mind when you think of the cozy comfort food, there are many ways to make the dish.

For example, take Amish chicken pot pie. Those who grew up eating it will think of it as the standard, but others might find the dish's signature elements surprising. Why is that? Well, for one, it doesn't have a bottom crust — or a top crust, either. Amish chicken pot pie usually features rectangular noodles, sometimes even called pot-pie noodles, which are made from flour, eggs, and water. One cook from Pennsylvania's Amish country shares that, growing up, they called the double-crust chicken dish "chicken pie." However, the noodle version was specifically called "pot pie" (via Amish Heritage). Many cooks also add saffron, which, along with chicken fat, gives it a warm, golden hue and a distinct taste. 

Why is Amish chicken pot pie so different?

Amish pot pie originates from Lancaster, Pennsylvania (via Vox). There is a large Pennsylvania Dutch community there, whose ancestry can be traced back to Germany and Switzerland. The pot pie noodles are known as "bott boi" in the Deitsch language of the region. They're similar to traditional homemade noodles made in Germany and were added to dishes made from chicken and vegetable scraps to help stretch scant leftovers into a full, satisfying meal. Thus, Amish chicken pot pie was born. 

The inclusion of saffron, the most expensive spice in the world, also comes by way of the area's German immigrants. They brought saffron crocus bulbs to Pennsylvania from Germany and used the spice in their chicken pot pie and other recipes like corn noodle soup and stuffed beef heart. These days, there's even a region known as the "saffron belt" or the "yellow belt" in Pennsylvania Dutch country, where people still grow and use the spice in traditional Pennsylvania Dutch dishes to this day, served at home or in Amish restaurants. The combination of noodles and saffron creates a chicken pot pie dish that's probably very different than what many Americans grew up eating but is just as comforting.