Friday, September 16, 2011
Chicken and Homemade Noodles
Today is the first cool, rainy, day in a long time. You know what that means? SOUP!!! I've had some chicken backs in the freezer (from when I cut up several whole chickens this summer) just waiting for a day like today. I put them in a 6 quart pot with a couple quarts of water and some salt, brought them to a boil & turned them to simmer. If I don't have backs waiting, I really like to simmer a whole chicken and make a double batch... Usually there is enough extra meat that I can put in the freezer for another meal. In a bit I'll add a few chunks of carrot and a quartered onion to add flavor to the broth. I plan on them simmering 4-5 hours. The house smells so homey when things like this are cooking all day!
While this simmers I'll make a batch of noodles. I don't have a 'recipe' - I just start with about 2 C. of flour, a dash of salt, and maybe 4 eggs. Mix those in a heavy duty mixer (like my Kitchen Aid) or mix by hand.... if the dough isn't gathering together, add one more egg or a few tablespoons of water and continue mixing until the dough forms a good ball. (sometimes you still need even yet another egg or another tablespoon of water - trust your judgement) Should be fairly firm, but pliable. The dough will be a tad sticky... just pat it with flour and then wrap in plastic wrap and let it rest for 20 minutes or so. Cut 1/2 inch slices off and roll once slice at a time on a well floured board to as thin as you can get it to roll. I like mine about as thin as a nickel. Use a pizza cutter to cut this into thin strips - maybe 1/2 inch thick at most. Lay the noodles out on a cookie sheet until ready to use. If you're one who is lucky enough to have a pasta maker, just follow those instructions. I have a machine that rolls the dough out flat and then cuts it, but I like doing it by hand better.
Once the chicken has simmered long enough to be ready to fall off the bones, I pull it out onto a plate or cookie sheet to cool a bit, and then pull it off the bone. I skim the fat off of the top of the broth. If you have time to cook the chicken the day BEFORE you want to eat, you can just put that broth in the fridge and the fat will firm up and make it easy to get all the fat off. But who thinks that far ahead? ;-) Once the fat is skimmed, I add a couple of sliced carrots, a few stalks of sliced celery, and a diced onion. If the broth tastes weak, I add a few teaspoons to a tablespoon of chicken bouillon at this point. (My favorite soup base is Watkins - very good flavor and no MSG) Might need some salt now as well. (Don't you love exact measurements like this!) Bring the stock to a good boil. Drop the noodles in a few at a time (to keep them from sticking together) while stirring. Once all the noodles are cooking, cook until they're tender... I usually plan on about 20 minutes or so because I like them really soft. Add deboned chicken now and add pepper now if you're a pepper sort of person. I let people add it to their own bowl if they want it.
At this point you can serve this as soup.... OR we like to thicken it with a few tablespoons of cornstarch mixed with a few tablespoons of water, and serve it over freshly mashed potatoes. (talk about a carb high!) YUMMY!