Monday, May 25, 2009

The Best Chicken And Noodles Ever...

I will start out by first apologizing to my mother, God rest her soul. My mother and I had a great relationship, and I inherited her sarcastic sense of humor that has helped through a many of dreary days as well as got me in deep trouble. She raised and fed 8 kids as a stay-at-home mom on a strict budget that at times involved some questionable strategies like the soybean meatloaf era.

I can remember my mom cooking supper as we were leaving for school in the morning. She would have the huge cast iron pan frying hamburgers at 7 AM while she was seeing us off to the bus. When we would come home from school, the burgers would still be in the pan on the stove cold with nice layer of white burger fat securing them to the pan. All we would have to do was fire up the stove long enough to melt the grease and we were in burger business. Amazingly enough, we very rarely ever got sick, and to this day I can eat leftovers that are beyond most normal people with no ill effect. (I still think mom invented the macaroni and chee-a pet from things we found in the fridge weeks later).

This method of cooking evolved when the microwave was invented. Now instead of leaving the cooked food in the pan, she would make us all a "plate". Customized with our own known liked foods and covered with a sheet of clear plastic in our "spot" on the kitchen table. At that time we were mostly busy teens with different schedules, we could just pop our plate in the microwave when we got home. The microwave, of course, was as big as a console television.

What I am leading to, is even with good and loving intentions, mom got set in her ways as she knew what was good for us despite our negative feedback. Case and point was the Crockpot. When the Crockpot came out, it was the answer to her prayers. Just pile in a bunch of stuff in it in the morning and set it and forget it. In some cases the results came out edible, but for the most part the end product was a gray mass of unidentifiable goo. She would do this with pot roast and the worst offender; chicken and noodles. My mom's method of making chicken and noodles was to throw the whole chicken, some noodles and water in the crockpot all at the same time. Set the heat to low and let it simmer (decompose) for 6 or so hours. She would then give it a stir and spoon out the bones and large debris that she could get to. Yes, it was technically chicken and noodles, but that is where the similarity ended. To this day we do not use a crockpot and I still get an uncontrollable gag reflex if I find any small bones or debris in my food.

So zoom forward 15 years and I am married and hungry. My wife Sue said she was going to make chicken and noodles. The look on my face must have looked the poster child for post traumatic stress syndrome and I had to relate to my wife the story above. Sue had to explain to me there was a proper way to prepare chicken and noodles that was guaranteed to erase years of despising one of the best dishes on the planet. I was skeptical and insisted on watching (or helping) the "real" preparation method. Here is my wife Sue's recipe as I recall it from my grandest culinary dreams:

  • Find a chicken - as far as I know she is not picky whether it is a fryer, roaster or whatever name they can give to a chicken. A fresh one is better and it doesn't have to be a huge one. Wash it very well to remove any feathers or packing debris.
  • Remove the crap they put inside the chicken and I hope she throws the guts away - and I really don't want to hear your comments - if you like chicken guts, that is your problem.
  • Put chicken in large 5 quart sauce pan. Throw in one whole onion with the skin on, several stalks of celery with leaves and a carrot. Add enough water to cover the chicken completely and add 1-2 tablespoons of salt depending on your taste.
  • Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer and cover with the lid cocked just a bit to let some of the steam escape. Simmer for around 4 hours.
  • THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT PART: Tun off the heat and let it sit for a half hour to cool. This is where the broth really takes on the "Famous Subee's" chicken flavor.
  • THIS IS THE 2ND MOST IMPORTANT PART: Remove the entire contents from the broth and set the chicken on a large platter. Dispose of the celery, carrot and onion.
  • THIS IS THE 3RD MOST IMPORTANT PART: Strain the broth with a screen ladle to remove all stray debris and that sneaky small bone that I will undoubtedly get on my plate.
  • Bring the broth back to a boil and throw in your noodles, the amount of noodles you will use will depend on how big your chicken was, and how soupy or thick you want your final product. (I prefer soupy)
  • While the noodles are cooking, separate the chicken meat from the carcass. Do this very carefully as to not add any bones or debris back into the broth! Add all of the dark meat back into the broth and only some of the white meat. (save the rest of the white meat for chicken salad or something) Even if you are really not big on dark meat, as I am not, this is still the desired thing to do, as the flavor is mostly in the dark meat.
  • Throw the chicken meat back in the broth / noodles and simmer uncovered until the noodles are done.
  • Check your salt and pepper to taste.

Scoop this over some mashed potatoes in a big bowl and it is heaven! Yes, this recipe may be common knowledge to most cooks, but it was a learning experience for me. It is now one of the greatest dish my wife makes. We are still working on the pot roast thing...


One Reader said...

good on you for overcoming the evils of a bad chicken & noodle experience. I too have had the crockpot style everything in at once. but it was after I had had the good kind.
A tip on the potroast, use a pressure cooker, it gets the meat all tender and moist instead of tough and grey.

crazy kids next door said...

You should ask your neighbor for a great recipe for pot roast in the crock pot! Bruce loves it! :)