Chickenoodles

This is a favorite dish from childhood, so beloved that its name is no longer "chicken and noodles," but "chickenoodles." My boys love it, too, and always request it when they go to Mima and PawPaw's. Mima cheerfully obliges.

On a visit a few Christmases ago (well, ok, quite a few Christmases ago), I decided to watch my mom make this, as mine never came out quite like hers even though I used her recipe. As I watched her, step by step, I discovered her secret! Ah ha! A whole stick of butter went into the pan with the cooked noodles! Well! No wonder mine didn't taste as rich!! To this day (and she will send me e-mail when she reads this file!), she strenuously denies that she puts a stick of butter in her chicken and noodles, but, I tell you, I -watched- her!!! (Maybe it was margarine, but it was a whole stick of something yellow!)

Ok, so mine isn't going to taste like Mima's, but I'm going to try to make it as rich as possible, within the confines of watching fat intake. I decided to cook the noodles in as little broth as possible to keep the broth concentrated in flavor. The noodle cooking part takes constant watching (and frequent stirring) and isn't the proper way to cook pasta, I know, but for the result I want, it works.

skinless, boneless chicken pieces with visible fat removed
2 14-oz. cans fat-free, salt-free chicken stock (or homemade)
1 pkg. noodles (I use yolkless noodles, which are pretty much fat-free)

I cook the chicken in a pressure cooker, using 10# pressure for about 20 minutes, with half of one can of the stock. Follow your own cooker's directions or do it on top of the stove. If you're doing a lot of chicken (I do 3-4 skinless, boneless breasts), two cans of stock may not be enough because you may need more for the chicken cooking and you'll have proportionally more noodles, too, so you may need 3 cans. We love the noodles best, so I always make a full package of noodles, even with only 2 pieces of chicken!

Check that the chicken is cooked through (not at all pink). If 20 minutes isn't enough (depending on your cooker or the amount of chicken), give it a couple more.

Remove chicken to a bowl and keep warm. (I use my microwave set on the lowest power setting and put a dinner plate on top of the bowl.)

Put rest of stock into the pressure cooker pan and bring to a boil. Add noodles. The stock will -not- be anywhere near deep enough to submerge the noodles. This is ok; just stir them around gently to keep them in contact with the boiling stock. If the stock level gets really low, add some water. Check every so often for doneness.

At the end, you will have a very thick sauce (reduced broth plus thickening from the noodles). If I am feeling especially frisky -- say it's someone's birthday dinner - - I will throw in one pat of butter (1 T), but not usually. Toss in some chopped parsley (dried is just fine, too) and ground pepper. Sometimes I substitute poppy seeds for the parsley. (Even if I salted this, my guys would add more salt at the table, so I serve it saltless.)

We love the noodles the best, so we don't care if the chicken is all gone in one meal! First one to the refrigerator gets the left-over noodles!

I think this comes pretty close to Mima's hallowed version. It serves, anyway, until we visit them!


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marbeth@marthabeth.com