My mom was never a big cook. She knew how, but she didn't enjoy it. Probably because she would get home from working a 7am-5pm shift in the emergency room being vomited on, bled on and having crackheads swear at her and throw their soiled bedpans at her, only to have to cook dinner for two self-absorbed kids who were completely oblivious about what her day had been like. But one of the things that I remember her seeming to take an inkling of pleasure in preparing was her chicken and noodles. This was something that she'd spend a little more time and care on, and it showed in her demeanor when she'd make it. It's a dish that is forever associated for me with calm, relaxed evenings at home watching TGIF, and going out for ice cream later.
It starts with a whole chicken and aromatics; carrots, celery, onion and garlic. Salt and pepper your chicken liberally and stick in a large pot with 3-4 large carrots, 3-4 stalks of celery, 1-2 small onions and 2 crushed cloves of garlic. I also add 2 tsp of Penzeys chicken soup base (substitute 4 bouillon cubes), 1 tsp of Penzeys "Fox Point Seasoning" and 1 tsp of Penzeys "Bicentennial Rub."
(You will quickly learn that both Dez and I are big fans of Penzeys Spices.)
Add enough water to just cover the chicken and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover.
Simmer for 4 hours. Strain the chicken and veggies, reserving the broth.
Wait for the chicken to cool and then prepare to get your hands dirty. If pulling a chicken apart with your bare hands bothers you, this recipe is not for you. Separate the chicken meat (white and dark), discarding the bones, skin and cartilage. You can reserve the stewed veggies to add back in later if you want. I don't, but that's just me.
Add the chicken (and veggies, if you're inclined) back into the broth and bring to a boil. Add 1 lb of Amish noodles. You can use other noodles if you like, but in my experience these offer the best combination of taste and texture. The one time I made this recipe with egg noodles it turned into chicken and mush, albeit tasty mush.
Bring the noodles to a boil and then reduce to a simmer until tender.
My favorite way to eat these is served over a big, heaping pile of mashed potatoes. Comfort food at its finest.