Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Chicken and Noodles

My Grandma Letha made the best chicken and noodles in the world! Our world anyway! Most families have that special thing that their grandma or aunt or mom made for special occasions, and in our family it was Grandma Letha's chicken and noodles and Auntie Barb's galuskies. In our immediate family, it was our mom's potato salad and chocolate cream pie. 

The thing that made Grandma Letha's chicken and noodles so special, was her noodles. She rolled the dough out until it was paper thin and she cut the noodles thin, thin, super thin! In my early married years, I often tried to make them like hers but I would always end up with big thick noodles that you had to chew. I don't think we had to chew Grandma Letha's noodles. Her noodles slid down like butta.'

After our Perfect Roast Chicken dinner, we had carrots, fennel, onion, chicken and broth leftover, so I decided to make chicken and noodles for dinner the next night. First I took all of the leftover veggies and chopped them into smaller pieces. Then I pulled all of the chicken off of the carcass and broke the carcass it into four pieces. I put the pieces, small bones, skin and all into some lightly salted boiling water, covered it and let it simmer for about 30 minutes. I then poured the liquid through a sieve and discarded all of the skin and bones. I then put the broth into the refrigerator to cool and then skimmed the fat off of the top. I then added this broth to the other leftover broth and placed it in the refrigerator.

The next step was making the homemade noodles. I mixed together 2 cups flour, 1/4 teaspoon Salt and 1/4 teaspoon baking soda. I made a well in the middle of the flour for the eggs.

I mixed together 3 egg yolks and poured them into the well I had created. My eggs were jumbo. If they were large eggs I would use 4 egg yolks.
I stirred in the egg yolks until they were incorporated into the flour. It looked similar to a what pie crust looks like before adding the liquid.
I added the water 1/4 cup at a time, tossing lightly until all of the water was incorporated. I added most of the second 1/4 cup of water and tossed until I could tell that it was moist enough to form a ball with my hands. Too much water and too much stirring will make the noodles tough. I gathered the dough into a ball and kneaded a few times, just until it all came together. I divided the dough into quarters and let them sit for a couple of minutes.

I placed a fork next to this ball of dough so you could better see what size they were
I lightly floured the dough and rolled it out until it was as thin as I could get it, and then I rolled it out some more
I floured the dough a little more and then lightly rolled it up cinnamon roll style and then I started slicing the dough into noodles, as thin as I could get them.
They should look something like this
Now you want to lay them out on a dry cloth to dry out.
The process of making noodles is not hard but it does take time. Allow about an hour to get them rolled out and sliced. Once you are at the drying stage you are almost there. The noodles should dry for a couple of hours, and should be tossed around so that they can dry evenly.

If your preference is larger noodles, that works just fine. Don't roll them out too thin and slice them thicker. They do take a little longer to dry the thicker they are but that's not a problem, just start them earlier so they have more time to dry. In my experience if I want more noodles, I make them one batch at a time for a more consistent outcome. If you have a pasta maker or a pasta attachment for your mixer that works well too, and is much faster. I sold my pasta maker some time ago. I prefer to make them this way.

The next step was taking the broth out of the refrigerator and skimming any remaining fat off the top. I had about 7-8 cups of broth. I then placed the broth into a a medium sized dutch oven and brought the broth to a low boil and added the noodles. It only takes minutes to cook your noodles, especially when they are thin. I cooked them until they were fork tender and the broth was starting to thicken. I added the cut up vegetables and the chicken that had been torn into bite sized pieces and turned the heat down to simmer. I covered the pot and left it alone for about 10 minutes. The broth continued to thicken and everything had warmed thoroughly. At this point, you have to make a judgment call on how thick you want your chicken and noodles to be. If you want yours a little thicker, mix a little flour with water, mix it up so there aren't any lumps, and add it to the pan, stirring well to incorporate, and bring up to a low boil for a couple of minutes so you don't have a floury texture or taste. If you like yours less thick, add a little more broth or water.

A bowl of Chicken and Noodles
I was happy with how they turned out and we enjoyed them very much. I don't remember carrots in Grandma's chicken and noodles, but I wanted to use them and it certainly didn't hurt them at all. I think Grandma Letha would have been proud of my attempt. I know that my cousins make them too and have their own versions that I know are very good. We have a lot of good cooks in the family. I know Grandma Letha would be happy to see the legacy she has left to her kids, grandkids, great-grandkids and great, great grandkids. Now, if only I had her recipe for the cinnamon rolls she made on Saturday morning...


Homemade Egg Noodles


Homemade Egg Noodles,


        See Homemade Egg Noodles on Key Ingredient.     



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