14 January 2008

The Best Chicken and Noodles Ever!

Woohoo!! I managed to keep my promise and get some roast chicken out of the oven and onto my Blog. I have to say that the chicken that had been in my freezer for lord-knows-how-long left something to be desired. But I didn't want to waste it, and they say old chicken is fantastic for soup. I somehow doubt they mean freezer burnt chicken, but when life hands you lemons, you make Chicken and Noodles!

Here is where I should back up and explain my philosophy on Chicken and Noodles. I don't believe in Chicken Noodle Soup. I believe in something much closer to a casserole or stew. I don't want a bunch of clear broth... I want a deep, rich, thick concoction that sticks to your ribs and satisfies your soul. Every year on my birthday, my mom makes me Chicken and Noodles. When I lived in Portugal and she visited me, I asked her to make me Chicken and Noodles. For me it is the ultimate comfort food but not the typical Chicken Noodle Soup you grew up eating.

I started off by roasting the chicken for the meat in the Chicken and Noodles. I knew that I wouldn't be using the stock from these particular bones to get Chicken and Noodles on the table for dinner. My mom definitely raised me to believe that stock needs to be cooked for a very long time to taste good. I have no idea if she is right or wrong, but I do it her way. Fortunately for me and my Chicken and Noodles craving, I happened to have a couple containers of homemade chicken stock in my freezer waiting to be used up.

I recently purchased The Martha Stewart Living Cookbooks (Volume 1 and Volume 2). I decided to see how Martha would roast a chicken. Her basic recipe in the first volume is, well, very basic. But it is a nice place to start. I decided to use her method even though my chicken was cut into pieces. She has you line a roasting pan with thick onion slices. Then you place the chicken atop the onions, schmear with butter, salt and pepper and roast. She has a couple more steps that would be nice to flavor a whole chicken (sticking a lemon inside the cavity, etc.), but I decided not to bother with flavors other than salt and pepper. I did use the onions as my "roasting rack" and thought it worked quite nicely. Her recipe also includes a gravy made from the roasted onions that have absorbed all of the delicious chicken juices that looks divine. The next time I am really roasting a chicken, I think I will have to try the onion gravy with a pile of homemade mashed potatoes.

Once the chicken was on its way to being roasted, I needed to get the rest of my soup components together. This was pretty easy since you can do everything mostly simultaneously. I put a large stock pot on to boil to cook some local Amish Noodles (integral to this recipe in my opinion). I also put a smaller pan on medium heat with a mixture of olive oil and butter, so it will be ready to soften the veggies. I finely chopped a variety of vegetables from my fridge - sweet onion, carrots, parsnips, green onions, and celery. I add them to the pan on medium heat and allow the vegetables to sauté. In order for this to be a quick cooking dish, I need the vegetables to cook on the stove... so take your time and allow them to get really tender. By the time the noodles and vegetables are cooked, the chicken is ready to be shredded. You can toss everything into a casserole pan, add your stock and pop in the oven with breadcrumbs on top. It is a fabulous quick meal if you have any left over cooked chicken around.

Tomorrow I will fill you in on chicken stock the way my mom taught me.

Chicken and Noodles

16 oz Amish Egg Noodles or Kluski, cooked al-dente
2 cups chopped sautéed until tender vegetables (any combination of carrots, celery, parsnips, potatoes, mushrooms, etc.)
1 cup chopped sautéed until tender onion
1-2 cups cooked chicken (roasted, poached, grilled, etc.)

Combine all ingredients in a large casserole dish. Add enough chicken stock to barely cover. Sprinkle the top with homemade seasoned breadcrumbs. Bake at 350 F for 30 minutes covered, bake for an additional 15-20 minutes uncovered until browned on top.

This method is incredibly flexible. Yesterday I had a bizarre Cream of Blah soup craving, so I added a can of Cream of Mushroom soup to my casserole. It hit the spot!


Cate said...

Looks like perfect comfort food!

KristiB said...

That reminds me, I have an old chicken carcass I food-savered to use for stock. I wonder if it's still good?

Josie said...

I would definitely use the old chicken for stock! I think stock is really forgiving in general... and if you used a foodsaver then you are like 5 steps ahead of me. I am lucky if I remember to seal the ziploc bag :)

Karen said...

Hi Josie!
Thanks for stopping over at Test Drive Kitchen. It's so nice to hear from you. I LOVE your dogs (sorry, people in fur suits). Do they watch you cook -and wait for anything to drop - like my golden retriever does? I swear it's like having a head chef hover while I'm prepping a meal. Thanks for giving me the link to your site. I will definitely check in and see what you're cooking in your kitchen.