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04/02/2020

~Oodles of Tender Chicken & Egg Noodle Casserole~

IMG_0579Chicken-noodle soup is the quintessential comfort food.  While nourishing the body, chicken-noodle soup channels the mind back to kinder, gentler, childhood times. When I was growing up, I don't remember eating canned chicken-noodle soup.  Mom always had one-quart containers of homemade chicken soup in the freezer.  When it was gone, she made more.  That was that, haha, no canned chicken-noodle soup for me.  While stocking my pantry with a few chicken-y staples (four boxes of chicken stock, two jars of granulated chicken bouillon, and, two double-size bags of wide egg noodles), my mind wandered to mom's chicken noodle casserole.

Mom's pantry-staple-based chicken-noodle casserole was different from the chicken-noodle casseroles my friends' moms made.   

Our family didn't eat a lot of casseroles (dad didn't care for casseroles), but, we ate this one. Mom's pantry-staple-based chicken-noodle casserole was different from the chicken-noodle casseroles my friends' moms made in that mom didn't use cream of chicken soup and she didn't use store-bought canned chicken (which was a common ingredient back in the 1950s and 60s. Mom used bouillon, water and a bit of cream, plus, all-white oven-roasted chicken breast. Feel free to substitute two poached chicken breasts or the breast meat from a rotisserie chicken. There's more.  Mom's casserole wasn't cheesy or cheese-topped.  It wasn't topped with bread crumbs or a buttery-rich and crispy Ritz cracker topping either (but those are options).  Left uncovered and alone, the tops of the curly-edged egg noodles brown and crisp on their edges.  

Mom's chicken-noodle casserole was an unembellished dish of humble, pantry-staple, made-with-love wonderfulness.

IMG_050612  ounces wide egg noodles, cooked according to directions below, well-drained

2  cups frozen peas and carrots, steamed in the microwave or cooked on the stovetop, according to package directions

8  tablespoons butter, divided, 5 tablespoons (sliced) for coating noodles and 3 tablespoons for sautéing vegetables

4  tablespoons granulated chicken bouillon, divided, 2 tablespoons for cooking noodles, 2  tablespoons for sautéing vegetables

1  cup small-diced onion

1  cup small-diced celery

2 1/2  cups water

1  teaspoon onion powder

1/2  teaspoon garlic powder

3/4  cup heavy or whipping cream

1/4  cup Wondra Quick-Mixing Flour for Sauce and Gravy

4  cups hand-pulled or diced cooke chicken breast

IMG_0473 IMG_0473 IMG_0473 IMG_0473 IMG_0473 IMG_0473 IMG_0473 IMG_0473 IMG_0498 IMG_0498~Step 1.  In a 3 1/2-quart chef's pan, bring 2 quarts of water to a boil.  Add 3 tablespoons granulated bouillon to the water (1 1/2 tablespoons salt may be substituted, but the bouillon flavors the noodles as they cook) along with the noodles. Adjust heat to a simmer and cook until noodles are al-dente, about 8-9 minutes.  Drain into a colander and return noodles to pan on still hot stovetop.  Add 5 tablespoon sliced butter and toss until noodles are coated in butter.  Microwave or simmer the peas and carrots, drain them into the colander, then add them to the buttered noodles.  Transfer mixture to a large bowl and set aside.

IMG_0508 IMG_0508 IMG_0508 IMG_0508 IMG_0508 IMG_0508 IMG_0508 IMG_0508~Step 2.  Over low heat, melt the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter in the same pan.  Add the diced onions and celery.  Increase heat to medium- medium-high and sauté, stirring constantly until vegetables are softening, 2-3 minutes.  Add the 2 1/2 cups water and stir in 2 tablespoons chicken bouillon, 1 teaspoon onion powder and 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder.  Bring to a simmer.

IMG_0529 IMG_0529 IMG_0529 IMG_0529 IMG_0529 IMG_0529 IMG_0529 IMG_0529~Step 3.  In the meantime, in a 1-cup measuring container, use a spoon to stir together the cream and Wonder flour.  The mixture will be thick.  Add it to the now simmering mixture on the stovetop. Stirring constantly, simmer gently until nicely-, but not overly-thickened, about 2-3 minutes.

IMG_0557 IMG_0557 IMG_0557 IMG_0557~Step 4.  Transfer chicken-in-sauce mixture to  the noodle mixture in bowl.  Using a large spoon or rubber spatula, fold to combine.  Transfer casserole mixture to casserole dish.  Bake, uncovered, on center rack of 350° oven, 25-30 minutes, until lightly-browned and bubbling.

Stay home & relish in a retro comfort casserole:

IMG_0577Bring on some nice plates & take a generous scoop:

IMG_0594Try a taste of retro-vintage & frugal pantry cooking:

IMG_0597Oodles of Tender Chicken & Egg Noodle Casserole:  Recipe yields 6-8 main-dish servings.

Special Equipment List:  3 1/2-quart chef's pan w/straight, deep sides; colander; 13" x 9" x 2" casserole; large spoon; 1-cup measuring container; spoon; large spoon or rubber spatula

6a0120a8551282970b0240a501325b200bCook's Note: It gets made in a pot of stock but it's not a soup.  It's not a stew either.  This heartwarming, down-home comfort-food dish is the great-grandmother of all noodle bowls.  Some refer to it as Southern, my experience with it is as an Eastern European, and, I know from first-hand experience the Pennsylvania Deutsch make it too.  I suspect they make it in Midwest as well. It's bite-sized pieces of tender chicken cooked in well-seasoned chicken stock with aromatic carrots, celery, onion and potatoes.  Egg noodles go directly into the pot to cook and absorb almost all the flavorful broth.  When executed properly, there's no need for a slurry (a bland-tasting thickener) -- the starch in the noodles does the work.  Try my recipe for ~ No Soup for You Home-Style Chicken Noodle Bowls ~.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2020)

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