Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's feasts are traditional indulgences that are hard to pass up. Not long afterward, the resolution is made to avoid savory comfort foods, but Valentine's Day is lurking around the corner to tempt any New Year's resolve.
We are in for more low temperatures, and the urge to cuddle under a blanket with a warm cup is strong. So, for my next Tribune Cooks trick, I made a warm, savory comfort food that doesn't seem to be terribly unhealthy for you.
I got on the Bob Evans email list somehow, and they remind me daily of their specials - including chicken and noodles. Since I don't get to go down on the farm that often, I decided to make my own, and also as usual, I was lured in by the Pioneer Woman and her wonderful-looking dishes.
Tribune Chronicle photos / Sarah Sepanek
Homemade chicken and noodles can be served on top of mashed potatoes, biscuits, roast potatoes, or by itself in a warm bowl.
The Pioneer Woman cooking blog hasn't let me down yet. The recipes are easy to follow and designed for the average home cook, and always taste great. Even her homemade noodles seemed like something I could do without ruining it. Store-bought egg noodles are fine and also encouraged, but I figured I'd give it a whirl, and if they came out OK, the recipe can be used for fresh pastas. I always like an excuse to use my big knives.
The chicken recipe was surprisingly easy, as were the homemade noodles. The chicken pulled apart like butter. The dough was easy to knead, and I mixed and kneaded it all in the same bowl. I rolled it out a little thicker, since I liked bigger noodles, but beware since they plump up while boiling. Mine were on the verge of becoming dumplings. Make sure to cook them longer if they are cut thicker. Also, my broth looked a little un-chickeny, so I added a tablespoon of Gia Russa chicken soup base. You can taste the broth and adjust accordingly during cooking.
But the aromas coming from the pot told me that the taste would make up for any small error. And it did! The vegetables were soft and flavorful, the chicken tender, and the sauce thick and savory. I finished my bowl, and used a warm roll to scoop up what was left.
One cup flour
Make a well in the center of the pile of flour and crack in eggs. Slowly mix together with your hands. Turn it out onto a floured surface and knead by hand until dough becomes smooth and pliable, adding flour to the board as necessary.
Let the dough rest for a few minutes before rolling it out. The dough can be increased by one egg per person. Example: Two eggs and one cup of flour would make enough pasta dough for a dinner for two, four eggs and two cups of flour for four, etc.
Roll it out on a floured surface. The noodles will plump up quite a bit when they boil in the water. Use a sharp knife (if you can keep it in a straight line), a pizza wheel, or a long pizza/bread cutter.
To cook the noodles, just boil them in salted water for about two minutes. Boil longer for thicker-cut noodles. Check one noodle for doneness before draining.
Homemade chicken and noodles
1 whole fryer chicken, cut up
2 whole carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1/2 whole medium onion, diced (optional)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground thyme
2 teaspoons parsley flakes
16 ounces, frozen egg noodles, or homemade noodles
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Cover chicken in 4 quarts water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Simmer for 30 minutes.
Remove chicken from pot with a slotted spoon. With two forks, remove meat from the bones, slightly shredding meat in the process. Return bones to broth and simmer on low, covered, for 45 minutes.
Remove bones from broth with a slotted spoon, making sure to get any small bones that might have detached.
Add the carrots and celery (and onions, if using) to the pot, followed by the herbs and spices. Stir to combine and simmer for 10 minutes to meld flavors.
Increase heat and add egg noodles and chicken. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes. Add chicken soup base if desired.
Mix flour and a little water. Stir until smooth. Pour into soup, stir to combine, and simmer for another 5 minutes, or until broth thickens a bit. Test and adjust seasonings as needed.
The chicken skin can be removed to make the recipe healthier, and more veggies can be added to load the pot with more nutrition. To save time, a rotisserie chicken from the deli can be subbed in, already cooked and ready to pull apart. For the daring, a little cheddar cheese can make a good garnish.
Don't let the Polar Vortex Part II get in the way of comfort.