Monday, February 15, 2010

Big Grandmother's Home Made Chicken and Egg Noodles

Big Grandmother (Mema's mother, the boys' Great-great-grandmother) taught me how to make chicken and egg noodles. She cooked from scratch even for herself, and this was one of her favorite dishes. This is what our family made instead of dumplings.

They are easy to make, and require few ingredients. They do require a little time, and they are best if you can let them dry for a few hours before dropping them into the boiling chicken broth.

I always used to roll mine out and cut them by hand. Now that I have a snazzy little pasta machine (inherited from Thelma) I use it instead, but you do not need one. Hand rolled and hand cut are even better, I think, because they are a lttle thicker.

Take 2 cups of flour, and add 1 tsp (teaspoon) of salt. Add a sprinkle of black pepper, and mix together well. Then add about 1/4 cup of shortening or lard, and mix it into the flour with your hands until it has a uniform crumbly texture.

Make a well in the flour and add two eggs. Mix them into the flour until all the flour is a very stiff dough. If necessary, you can add a little water, only one Tbls (tablespoon) at a time, to get all the flour incorporated. This takes a little muscle to do: just keep working it. The dough should be stiff but not sticky by the time you are done.

Flour your board and rolling pin, and sprinkle flour on the ball of dough. At this stage, you don't have to worry about "too much" flour. You want to be sure it doesn't stick. Roll it out very thin - this is sometimes easier to do if you divide the dough in half and roll and cut one half before
doing the other half.

When it's rolled out, sprinkle generously with flour again and cut into long strips about 1/2 inch wide and as long as the dough.

When they are all cut, lay them out on newspapers or cuptowels to dry for a while. I usually try to let them dry for from 2 to 4 hours - just depends on how much time you have. Over time, you'll find the right amount of time for your taste.

While they are drying, put a whole chicken (with the skin on) into a large pot with a lid, cover with water, add a couple of tsp (teaspoons) of salt and stew it (simmer) until done. This usually takes an hour or so. If starting with a frozen chicken it will need a couple of hours. Add more water if needed.

When done, remove the chicken onto a plate or large bowl and set aside to cool enough so that you can remove the meat from the bones.

Bring the broth to a boil. Toss the noodles with more flour and add them to the broth a handful at a time, stirring after each addition. Reduce to a simmer and let simmer, uncovered, while you prepare the chicken meat.

Remove the skin and discard it with the bones. I like to leave the meat in large pieces, just as it was torn from the bones. The breast meat might need to be torn into smaller chunks.

Add the meat back into the broth with the noodles. The excess flour that was on the noodles should have thickened the broth nicely.

If needed you can add thickener. How to make thickener: Take a couple of tablespoons of flour and mix with cold water in a cup or jar. In a cup, stir with a fork or whisk until you have a slurry. In a jar, you can put the lid on and shake like crazy until it's all mixed up. Then add the
thickener to the broth, stirring at the same time.

The reason you don't just add flour directly to the broth is that it causes lumps. By mixing it with a little water first, you prevent lumps. this works with making gravies or sauces of any kind too.

Simmer the noodles for about 40 minutes to an hour. This keeps well, and is even better leftover the next day, so it makes a good Sunday Dinner for those who try to keep the 4th Commandment and have Sunday as a Day of Rest (Exodus 20:8-11). It is perfect on its own, or you can serve with bread and butter on the side.

A fun way to serve it is in the milk glass covered hen dishes - just be sure to warm them first by rinsing with hot water so the hot broth won't crack them when you ladle it in

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