Thursday, February 13, 2014

Chicken and Noodles


















I find it fascinating how a dish with a particular name can be so different in different parts of the country.  For example, the ubiquitous beef taco.  In some areas, the beef is ground.  In another, the beef is traditionally shredded.  In still a third area, the beef is finely diced.

Such as it is with chicken and dumplings. 
Pretty much everywhere, this is a stew dish.  In my neck of the woods, the dumplings are generally balls or lumps (why aren't they then called "lumplings"?  The things that keep me awake at night ....).   Anyhoo, earlier in the week I had a hankering for dumplings of the ball persuasion.  I don't really have my own recipe, unless you count chicken pot pie and replace the dough crust with dough balls.  So I hit the intertubes, and discovered that in the southern tradition, the dumplings are very wide flat dough ... essentially noodles.  I first thought this was very very weird.  Why not just call it chicken and noodles?  But then I remembered that I grew up drinking egg creams -- a traditional NYC area drink made of milk, chocolate syrup and seltzer.  In other words,  no egg, no cream.  So who am I to criticize the tradition of others?


So back to my search for chicken and dumplings.  But by the time I found an appealing recipe with semi-dumpling balls, I had a hankering for dumplings of the noodle kind instead.    And, to speed up dinner, I grabbed a bag of wide noodles from the pantry.

This recipe calls for diced celery.  Dirty little secret:  my family does not care for celery.  I'll add it to things when it's absolutely necessary for its flavor,  like chicken soup (and then watch everyone pick out or push the celery around), but generally I'll substitute with celery seed, like now.  All the flavor, but none of that icky mouth-feel.  If  this does not describe your family, lose the celery seed and add a finely diced stalk of celery along with the onion and carrot.













The dredging flour step not only helps to brown the chicken, but thickens the stew liquid.    So don't skip the dredging step.  Even if you have to sprinkle the flour mixture on the chicken two minutes AFTER it's added to the pot because you somehow forgot this important step (don't ask).  By the way, after you wipe up the flour that got spread all over the stovetop as you sprinkled each piece, use same paper towel to clean up the flour that also spilled onto the floor.  And finally pick up that elusive lemon seed you dropped a few days ago evaded the vaccum.  And the mop.  And the dog.

Where was I?  Oh, yeah, the chicken stew.  I wound up making it two different ways.  The first was to serve the chicken pieces whole, on top of the noodles, with sauce spooned over.  TheHubby thought the chicken should have been shredded and mixed into the noodles.   I had reasoned that since he always complains that he seems to get all the dark meat when I do that, serving the pieces whole would avoid this issue.  Nope-ers.

I eventually mixed the peas into
the noodles.  Awesome!


















 So when serving the leftovers a few days later, I did exactly what theHubby asked for.  He said it was okay, except for all the dark meat.

Grrrr ....


Chicken and Noodles
Based on Country Crock Chicken & Dumplings
Yield: 4 servings

1/4 cups unbleached flour
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1 whole chicken, cut into eighths
2 Tbl. margarine
 1 medium onion, finely chopped (approx. 1 cup)
1 small carrot, finely chopped (approx. 1/2 cup)
1 tsp. celery seeds
1/2 tsp. dried thyme leaves, crushed
4 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup rice (or soy) milk
1 (12-16 oz.) package wide egg noodles
1 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh parsley


Whisk together  flour, salt and black pepper in large bowl. Add chicken and toss to coat; set aside.


















Heat margarine in 6-quart wide-bottom saucepot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat;  Brown chicken, about 4-5 minutes per side.  Remove to a covered dish (chicken will not be cooked through); set aside and keep warm.













Add onion and carrot to the pot over medium heat and saute, stirring up the brown bits as you go, for 5 minutes, or until vegetables start to brown. Add thyme and celery seed; saute for another 1 minute. Stir in broth, increase heat to high and bring to a simmer.


















Return chicken to pot. Bring back to a simmer, then cover and reduce heat; simmer 20-30 minutes or until chicken is thoroughly cooked.  Stir in rice (or soy) milk.













Meanwhile, cook noodles according to package directions.  Drain and divide among 4 pasta or dinner plates.  Top each serving with chicken.  Ladle sauce over chicken.  Sprinkle evenly with parsley and serve.

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