Families often have their own unique culinary traditions during the holidays. In our family, we make homemade egg noodles with chicken. This recipe, passed down through many generations, can be made on a shoestring budget to feed a large group people. It’s sort of like a thicker and creamier version of chicken noodle soup (though it contains no cream).
When I was growing up, it was an annual tradition for the women in our family to gather for a Chicken and Noodles party. It was a very social event that usually occurred during the holidays. The women would meet in the morning, make the dough and cut the noodles. As the noodle dough dried, they would go shopping at the local drugstore to check out the new Christmas decorations and displays. When they came back, the noodles would be dry and ready to cut. Then they would cook up a big batch of chicken and noodles, along with a pot of mashed potatoes to stretch out the dish. That way, there would be enough for the hungry men in the family, who would inevitably show up later in the day to feast on the finished product.
My Grandma Carolyn taught us this recipe; she learned it from her mother, who learned it from her mother, and so on as far back as we can remember. On that side of the family we descend from Swedish immigrants to Nebraska (you can learn more about my maternal ancestry here). This simple recipe has been handed down by our Swedish matriarchs, and is still beloved in our family today.
We make these noodles the old fashioned way—rolling, drying, and cutting them with a knife. You can use a pasta cutting tool, if you want, but my mom prefers cutting them by hand. In her words, “I like cutting the noodles. It takes time, but that’s the point. Making chicken and noodles is all about getting together with the girls and gabbing while you cook. If you used a pasta cutter, it would go too fast. Where’s the fun in that?”
One word of warning: this is a somewhat messy project. Flour will get everywhere. Your fingers will be coated in dough. You’ll want to wear an apron.
We consider chicken and noodles the ultimate comfort food. This recipe has been a staple in my family since I was born. It’s an economical and delicious dinner option. You can stretch it even further by serving over mashed potatoes; doing this will nearly double the amount of servings. It’s a fun family-friendly cooking project, and I’m delighted to share it with you.
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Food Photography and Styling by Kelly Jaggers
- 4 cups flour
- 6 large eggs
- 4 lbs whole chicken
- 4 stalks of celery, roughly chopped including leaves
- 1 onion, peeled and roughly chopped
- Salt and pepper
- Frozen green peas
- Mashed potatoes
- Beat 6 eggs in a small bowl till frothy. Reserve.Sift 2 cups of flour with 1 heaping tbsp of salt into your mixing bowl. Reserve 2 more cups of flour in another bowl.
- In your mixing bowl, make a “well” in the center of the sifted flour and pour the beaten eggs in. Use a fork to mix the eggs into the flour until it is evenly moistened.
- Sift more flour into the bowl, a couple of tablespoons at a time, and continue to stir until a soft dough forms.
- When the dough gets too thick to stir, use your hands to knead. Stop adding flour when the dough holds together and is only slightly sticky to the touch (it will be soft). Let the dough rest uncovered for 15 minutes.Coat your rolling surface generously with sifted flour. Scoop up a small handful of dough from the bowl (a little more than ½ cup of dough). Dip it in the flour on the board and pat it down to flatten it.
- Flour your rolling pin and roll out the dough till it’s very thin.
- Fold the rolled dough into quarters and move it to a sheet of parchment paper.Unfold it and leave it to dry.
- Repeat this process until all of the dough has been rolled out.Let the noodle dough dry for about 2 hours, flipping the dough pieces over once halfway through drying. This amount of time can vary based on the weather—if it’s hot outside, the drying may go faster. Check the dough’s texture periodically by touching it with clean fingers. The dough is ready to cut when it is dry to the touch, but not hard. If you’re in a hurry you can cut the dough when it is half-dry, but it won’t be as easy to cut or manage.
- Slice each flattened piece of dough into three long strips. Cut those strips into noodles. We usually cut them about a centimeter wide, but you can cut them thicker or thinner depending on your personal preference.
- Scoop up the noodles and scatter them on a piece of parchment paper to finish drying.Once you have cut the noodles, you can immediately proceed with making the chicken and noodles. If you’d rather store the noodles for future use, let them dry completely (this can take 24-48 hours depending on the weather). Once the noodles are totally dry, place them in an airtight container or sealing bag (reusable or disposable) bag and store them in a dark, cool place. They will last about 1 month; discard them if they start to darken or turn black.
- Rinse your whole chicken (giblets removed) and place it into a large stockpot. Cover the chicken with water by about 2 inches. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 15 minutes. Skim the foam that rises to the top. Add chopped celery, onions, and black pepper to the broth. You do not need to add any salt, the noodles contain a lot of salt so it’s best to hold off adding more at this point.
- Let the chicken simmer for 1 ½ to 2 hours until the meat softens and begins to fall off the bone. Remove the chicken from the pot and place it on a roasting pan or platter. Strain the chicken broth, removing all the celery and onions. Return broth to the stockpot.If you want to cut down on fat, you can let the broth cool completely and skim the fat that collects on the surface. Pull meat from the chicken in bite-sized pieces and return it to the broth; discard bones. Bring broth back to a slow boil.
- Add noodles to the broth. Let them boil gently, stirring frequently, until tender. For an al dente texture, cook for 10-12 minutes. For a softer texture (which I prefer), cook 15-16 minutes. The noodles will soak up most of the broth and produce a thick, starchy, salty sauce.If you want to add some frozen green peas, put them in during the last 10 minutes of cooking. Taste the noodles when they are completely cooked and season with additional salt and pepper, if desired.
- Serve in bowls plain or over mashed potatoes (if you’re keeping kosher, make sure the mashed potatoes are parve). This, as my mother says, is the ultimate comfort food. Yum!