Monday, September 22, 2008

Chicken & Noodles- It doesn't get more comforting than this!

Chicken & Noodles: A Tutorial
Chicken & Noodles is a tradition in my family. My Grandma Ma made it best, my Mom a close second. It's the ultimate in comfort food. I remember as a kid back in Minnesota, coming inside after a chilly night of Trick-or-Treating to find a big pot of chicken noodle soup on the table. Nothing could do a better job of making you feel good and warm inside!

To make good Chicken & Noodles, you need to start with a good stock, and what's better than homemade? Stock is one of the simplest things to make. A roasting hen, a few aromatics, and you're well one your way! For extra rich flavor, use chicken broth instead of water. I like to add an onion, quartered, to mine, along with the celery (don't be afraid to use those leaves!!) and a roasting hen. Then I add a couple tablespoons of peppercorns. You can add carrots too, though I don't care for the sweetness they impart in this instance. Simmer the stock until the chicken is fall apart tender and the veggies have extracted all of their goodness into the pot, then strain everything out. Skim some, but not all, of the fat. What you're left with is a rich, flavorful stock.

Once you've removed everything from the stock, you can take the chicken pieces and dredge them in a little flour, and give them a quick fry. This will tide you over until the soup's ready! Looks delicious, doesn't it? In the meantime, simmer the stock to reduce it some, concentrating the flavor even more.

To begin the noodles, you're going to need some eggs. Here my Mom used a fork to combine 8 eggs, then began adding flour. You're going for a soft dough here, don't add too much flour. Add a bit of salt, and if you like, a tablespoon or so of the chicken fat you skimmed from the stock. When the dough comes together, generously dust your work surface with flour and turn out about half of the dough onto the flour. Pat into a widening circle with your hands, and then roll out with a well floured rolling pin. Dust the top with flour as needed to prevent sticking.

The easiest way to cut the noodles, believe it or not, is with a pizza cutter. It makes quick work of that dough! Once you've cut (don't worry about them being perfect and even!), bring them up with your fingers, tossing with the excess flour, and separating, leaving the flour on the work surface. If any of the noodles stick, a spatula or a bench scraper work great to get them up. Just run them through the flour, and shake off the excess. Repeat with remaining dough.

Use a pastry brush to brush any extra flour from the noodles, then begin adding them to the stock. Stir as you go to prevent the noodles from forming one giant dumpling! Simmer until the noodles are cooked through, and tender. I prefer mine firmer, my mom likes hers to be a bit more tender. It's really up to you and your personal taste.

Season to taste with salt and pepper (I love white pepper in this!), add parsley, and serve. Hot, delicious, simple down home goodness. I love it! Manga!

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