Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Childhood Favorites


So my husband's most favorite meal from childhood is something they call Chicken & Noodles.  It's the meal they have on special occasions.  It's the meals they have when someone comes home to visit.  It's that one special meal that Mom makes that feels like home.  When my husband came home from the Army, they had Chicken & Noodles.  When his sister brought the new baby for the first time, they had Chicken & Noodles.  When his other sister came home from the Army, they had Chicken & Noodles.  It's that one memory that you take with you for a lifetime.

I grew up, on the other hand, with Chicken & Dumplings.  That was my comfort food as a kid.  My mother would make it, and I couldn't get enough.  I have those same memories of home when I make Chicken & Dumplings.  When I would come home from school in the wintertime, we had Chicken & Dumplings.  It's the meal that makes me feel like I'm at home.

So, if you picked up on my foreshadowing, I had a little conundrum on my hands.  Does this make us a house divided?  Will my husband and I draw a line in the sand over Dumplings vs. Noodles?  This is the part of the story where you're on the edge of your seat.  You just can't wait to see what happens next!

For a long time, I would not make Chicken & Noodles.  I didn't want my husband to have to pick which one he liked better.  That wouldn't be fair to either his mother or me.  So I avoided it.  I avoided it like the plague.  I only made Chicken & Dumplings.  But then one day I decided that I would make Chicken & Noodles, but I would make my own recipe and not his mother's.  That way, they can't be compared.  And the result? Now my husband has two favorites.  He gets to keep his favorite childhood meal memories, and he gets to enjoy my version too.  Don't you just love happy endings?

What's your favorite childhood meal?

CHICKEN & NOODLES
1 whole chicken
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 1/4 gallon water
1/4 C chicken bouillon powder
1 T poultry seasoning
4 cloves garlic, minced
Salt & pepper, to taste

FOR THE NOODLES:
3 C flour
3 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 C milk

Put the water in a large stock pot and add in the chicken, onion, carrots, celery, chicken bouillon, poultry seasoning, garlic, and salt and pepper. Boil for about an hour or until the chicken is cooked all the way through. Remove the chicken from the stock and reserve the stock.  When the chicken is cool enough to handle, pull the chicken off the bone and shred. Add the chicken back to the pot.

While the chicken is cooking, make the noodles.  Add the noodle ingredients to a stand mixer and knead with a dough hook until it forms a ball.  (You can knead it by hand if you don't have a stand mixer.)  Let the dough rest about 10 minutes.  Generously flour a countertop.  (Yes, you'll need a countertop.  It makes a lot.)  Divide the dough into three balls.  Roll each ball into 1/8 inch thick rectangle.  Cut the dough with a pizza cutter into 1/2 inch by 3 inch strips.  Toss the strips with more flour as you move them aside to roll out the other two balls.  The extra flour is needed to thicken your broth.  Roll out remaining dough and cut into strips and toss those with additional flour.

Add the noodles back to the stock (separate them as you drop them in) and cook, stirring occasionally, until noodles are done, about 10 to 15 minutes.

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