December 3, 2009 by skwishface
I’ve finally roused from my Thanksgiving-induced coma, and now I must share with you one of the recipes that helped put me there.
My Gramma Ford is a marvelous woman. Wife of a pastor, she has many a tried-and-true Church Lady recipe, and her favored techniques would make Paula Dean get all smiley-crazy-eyes. Seriously, have you seen that show Paula’s Party? She’s either half-tipsy, or very … odd.
Moving on! Two years ago, we had Thanksgiving at my Gramma’s house and I was introduced to the Chicken-Noodles. It’s warm. Rich. Full of flavor and thick, dumpling-like noodles. Comfort Food with capital letters. Easily my favorite dish in the massive holiday buffet that year. I had, in fact, been daydreaming about it ever since.
This year, The Husband and I packed The Kids into The Car and made The Drive to Gramma’s house. A thousand miles away. I wish I was exaggerating. But alas, I am not. Many a member of my extended family would be gathering, for lo, it was Thanksgiving.
And so it happened that my sister and I sat my Gramma down in her tiny kitchen and let her boss us around. Step by supervised step, the recipe for the Chicken Noodles was revealed. And I was stunned – STUNNED! – at how very simple it is. My sister faithfully wrote down every little step of this process, and there just weren’t that many. Photos were taken. Gramma’s kitchen is All Flourescent Lighting All The Time, so the pics are a bit odd. But please, don’t let that stop you from making this recipe. Your soul craves it, even if you don’t know it yet.
Gramma Ford’s Chicken Noodles (prep time: minimal, cook time: 20-30 minutes, happy time: eternal)
2-3 bags Reames Egg Noodles (16 -oz, frozen)
3+ quarts chicken broth (or stock)
1 large can chicken breast (or whatever cooked chicken you have available)
1 stick of butter
black pepper to taste
(for a printable version of this recipe, go here)
There is not a single vegetable of any kind involved. We’re not going for nutrition, here. You want fiber and vitamins, have a salad on the side. The Chicken-Noodles are not here to be nutritious. They’re here to wrap your soul in all the warm, homey comfort that can be found on a grandmother’s kitchen. And they do it well.
First things first. You may, as I did, wonder: what on earth are Reames Egg Noodles?
These noodles are only about 2-3 inches long, but they’re thick and dumplin-y. Gramma says to use the frozen noodles. At first I was dubious, but I know better than to question my Gramma in her own kitchen about her own recipe. Respect the territory of another. Besideswhich, the frozen noodles, as they cook, get the sauce all starchy and rich. Good times.
Heat up the chicken broth, and drop the noodles in. Cook ’em up like the package says to.
These said to boil them for 20 minutes. We shorted it a bit, because they would finish off in the crock pot.
Now, let’s make peace with this …
Yes, okay. It’s butter. Salted, sweet cream butter. You can use whatever kind of butter you like, but please. Please. I’m begging you. For the sake of the integrity of this down-home Comfort Food. Use real butter.
I’m no butter snob. I’m usually the first to suggest substituting with margarine. But for this recipe, real butter makes the magic happen. And you want the magic to happen, don’t you?
Yeah, that’s right. Just drop the entire stick of butter right in the middle of the chicken broth and noodles. Watch it melt sensuously together. Cackle a bit. I know I did.
If you’re not making the full Army Of Family To Feed batch of this recipe, you can cut back on the butter. If you think it’ll help you sleep at night. Just know that if you do, a Pastor’s wife in Indiana will be very gently disappointed in you.
Stir it all together and let it bubble away. Add some black pepper, fresh-cracked if you’ve got it.
While the noodles keep cooking in their buttery peppery goodness, we prep the chicken. And by “prep” I mean ….
THIS RECIPE IS SO COMPLICATED!
Anyway, stir it all together. You don’t have to use canned chicken – I intend to dice up some leftover chicken and Thanksgiving turkey for a batch later this week. Canned is just what we had, and it’s cheap and yummy, and it’s what Gramma said to use. And what Gramma says, goes.
Cook till the noodles are almost as tender as you want them. Then … and this is crucial …
It may or may not need a dash of salt. Maybe a smidge more pepper. But honestly, that’s it.
Noodles. Chicken broth. Butter. Chicken. Pepper. Done.
Let it simmer on the stove and just get richer and more fantastic. Or if you’re cooking a banquet and you need the stove space, pour it all into a crockpot and just nibble on it all day long. And what a wonderful day that will be!
And Gramma, lay out the good china. Some random people who read about you on the internet are coming over with spoonsful of Chicken-Noodles. I’m sure they’re all very nice.