Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Chicken and Noodles

My mother used to call whole chicken "stewing hens",  but she also called them "fryers".  I guess it depended on what she planed to do with them.  I don't fry chickens, although that is a perfectly wonderful thing to do if you want.  I roast them and stew them.

My current price point from whole chickens is $.79 per pound.  When they come on sale at that price, I buy one or two or three on sale.  There is a part of a shelf in my freezer reserved for them.  I take out any from a previous purchase and put the new ones in the back.  This is a lot of protein for a little money, so my recommendation is to learn things to do with them that please you and that your family will eat.

My Mother's Chicken and Noodles starts with a stewed chicken. 

In a large dutch oven, the whole chicken and enough water to cover him, approximately 6 cups. 

You'll need 3 stalks of celery, 1/2 a large onion cut in pieces.

 Season him with 1 t. salt, 1/4 t. pepper, 1/4 t. sage, and 2 bay leaves.  I'm also adding 1 T. of  chopped fresh thyme leaves because

  I have a nice thyme plant in my greenhouse. 

I'm using 1 t. dry Rosemary because I accidently killed the rosemary plant when I was a bit inconsistent with my greenhouse watering about a month ago. Dry rosemary should be crushed in your hand to break up before adding. 

Cover the pot and bring it to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer for 2 - 2 1/2 hours.  At the end of that time, bring it to room temperature or cool it in the frig until ready to make dinner. 

If you can cool it, some fat will settle on the top which you can remove with a slotted spoon.   This picture is not attractive, but it shows that the fat rises and can be scooped off. 

Now you are ready to make dinner. I'm 5 ft 2 inches, so I often put things in the sink to get them lower while I work on them.  Here I have my collander in my large bowl and have lifted the chicken into the collander.  In my other sink, I have another bowl which I will use for the skin, bones, veins, etc. that I remove. 

With my hands, I'll break the chicken apart.  Any thing I want to eat, stays in the collander.  Anything I don't want to eat goes in the bowl in the other sink. I end up with clean chicken in my collander.  What drains through the collander is good broth which will go back in my pot.

I use the slotted spoon to remove anything that remains in my broth which is the remaining liquid in my pot.  A fancier cook might strain the broth, but I don't bother.  The chicken goes back in the pot and the pot goes to the stove.

Now, 2 t. salt, 1 t. chicken granules, 1/2 t. dry sage, 1 cup frozen peas and 2 carrots peeled and sliced.  Bring it back to a slow boil.  By the way, if you are using chicken from another source, the meat of a whole chicken is aproximately 4 cups of meat. If you do, though, you will sacrifice some flavor by not having the homemade broth, so add more chicken granules.  I don't recommend this, just an option

Cook the soup for 10 minutes.  Taste the broth and adjust the seasoning if you wish. 
Add the homemade noodles made the previous day.  See the previous post.  And yes, I've snacked on a few.

But, Caution.  You will not be happy if you use ordinary noodles!  These noodles are special.

 Here I've attempted to photograph the noodles only to find my favorite sous-chef ready to help me, and perhaps catch a snack.

After adding the noodles Continue cooking for another 15 minutes.  At this point, my husband comes down sniffing the air and looking happy.   

Yum.  Dinner tonight and lunch for a few days. 

Remember to be grateful.

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