Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Mimi's Christmas Eve Chicken and Noodles

We call my grandmother Mimi.  When I was young, Mimi made chicken and noodles every Christmas Eve. We had a large group of people, and it fed us all economically. Why else would you put noodles on mashed potatoes?

Now, Gail makes them for us every Christmas Eve. That morning, I come down stairs to the smell of Christmas, a mixture of stewing chicken and baking cookies. We share the chicken and noodles at Gail's mom's Christmas Eve party. By the way, she wanted a good grandmother name, too. We call her Gumma.

Mimi's Christmas Eve Chicken and Noodles
Serves 6
3¼ to 3½ lb whole fryer (not a stewing hen or oven-stuffer roaster, which are tough when stewed and make a less flavorful broth)
3¾ cu (9 oz package) of fresh pasta uncooked
6 small all-purpose potatoes for mashing (Russet or Yukon Gold, about 4 oz each)
3 t Salt divided
About 2 qt water
2 Peppercorns
6 T Butter
6 T Milk
6 T Flour
Extra chicken stock on-hand if needed
  1. Remove giblets from bird. Rinse inside and out; drain.
  2. Place bird, 1 t salt and peppercorns in large stockpot. Add water, until bird covered.
  3. Bring to boil. Reduce heat just enough so pot doesn’t boil over; skim foam as it forms.
  4. Cook, uncovered, until meat falls off bone and carcass collapses (about 2 hr).
  5. When chicken falls apart, place large colander into even larger heat-tolerant bowl. Spoon solids into colander, then pour stock through colander to strain.
  6. Let colander finish dripping, then place over soup pot and re-strain stock into pot. Let colander finish dripping again; set aside into bowl. Pull chicken apart to allow steam to escape and speed cooling.
  7. Return stock to boil. Cut pasta into bite-sized pieces; add to stock with another 1 t salt; cook according to package or recipe directions.
  8. When pasta is tender, double strain as before. Set noodles aside.
  9. When chicken is cool enough to handle, pick meat off chicken bones, tearing into bite-sized pieces.
  10. No earlier than 1 hr before serving, peel and cut potatoes.
  11. Return stock to boil. Add potatoes, remaining salt, and water as needed to cover; boil, uncovered, until potatoes are tender, 15-20 min.
  12. When potatoes are tender, double strain as before.
  13. While potatoes are draining, heat cream and butter. Transfer potatoes to mixer bowl, add heated cream and butter. Whip until fluffy; cover and set aside.
  14. Measure stock. If less than 3 c, add extra to make 3 c.
  15. To thicken stock, use 2 T flour for each c liquid. Transfer 1 c stock to blender or food processor, add flour 1 T at a time, pureeing with each addition. Add more stock from the pot, as necessary, to form smooth, thin paste.
  16. Add flour paste to pot, stirring constantly to combine and prevent lumps. Bring to boil, reduce heat, and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened, 5 min.
  17. Stir in meat and noodles, heat through. Re-heat mashed potatoes if necessary.
  18. Serve chicken and noodles over mashed potatoes.
This dish says Christmas to me like no other.

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