Pot Pie in Western Pennsylvania
is actually made in a non-pie format. This name comes from a false-Anglification of "bott boi
," a traditional Pennsylvania Dutch
Instead of a pie crust, it is a dish resembling chicken and dumplings but flat, square noodles are used instead of dumplings. It can also be made with beef or ham. (My favorite was always the ham version.)
Both dishes are related. The baked dish required more attention, so it was often reserved for the rich who had a cook to have the food ready at a particular time, so that it would not either burn or have the crust get soggy. The poor instead substituted the pastry for noodles and boiled it instead of baking it. (Webster1913's definition mentions the boiled version in his potpie entry.)
The baked version of pot pie should more properly be called a "meat pie" and it has evolved quite a bit, from the cornish "pastie" to the Australian favorite of the Shepherd's Pie. I never quite understood why the name "pot pie" has stuck so tenaciously to that dish, though, since it's not cooked in a pot either. It's all just a mispronounced name that has gotten all jumbled up in our memories, but in any case, both dishes are quite tasty.
On a personal note, I could never figure out why the "pot pie" that my family served was so different from what everyone else called pot pie. In doing a bit of research, I found a list of Pennsylvania Dutch dishes. Turns out, there's a reason for it. I also have a list of a lot of other foods that I completely forgot about, though, I can't wait to have some Ham Pot Pie again... it's been quite some time for me.