Creamy chicken noodles: a simple dish, refined

Oct. 01, 2013 @ 05:47 PM

My father and I have a complex relationship, and it’s because of him that I also have a complex relationship with the kitchen.

My dad loves to cook, and he worked in several restaurants while I grew up. I’ve seen him make complex Chinese meals, huge Southern breakfasts and low-key, delicious dinners.

He’s the reason I despised the kitchen as a kid, and he’s also the reason I love the kitchen today.

In the kitchen, a poor man can be a king. He can have control over one aspect of life in a world that rarely offers any man or woman the chance to be master. A good home chef becomes a unique blend of scientist, artist and economist.

I grew up with one dish in particular that to this day I relish — creamy chicken noodles. It warms you in the summer. It can be made with a kick (Dad loves to make spicy food). It can be made simply or elaborately.

It was only later in life when I came to realize that he made this because it was cheap — a pot full serves 4-6 and cost less than $10 to make. Even today it costs about $10.

It’s a delicious concoction made with cans of cream of chicken and mushroom soups, boiled chicken and egg noodles. It’s a spot of perfection that brightens my childhood memories. So, of course, I decided to make it better.

I made my own version with fresh mushrooms, garlic, onion and heavy cream. The benefit comes from using fewer canned goods, which means less sodium. The bad side is that it becomes a little more expensive to make — but not much.

Both dishes share a common trait: They both use boiled chicken thighs. Fill a large pot halfway with water. Add spices to the water as you see fit — a tablespoon each of cumin, paprika and chili powder, along with garlic and onion powder, made a good base.

Bring the water to a boil and then put 5-6 chicken thighs in. Allow them to boil for 20-25 minutes, until the meat is thoroughly cooked.

Remove the chicken from the water and set aside; once cool, you’ll pull the meat away from the bone to chop or shred.

Strain the chicken stock through a fine mesh strainer and set aside. 

Papa’s Creamy Chicken Noodles

1 can condensed Cream of Chicken soup

1 can condensed Cream of Mushroom soup

1 12-ounce package of egg noodles (I prefer No Yolks)

4-5 chicken thighs, boiled and shredded

1 4 ounce can of mushroom pieces, drained

3 cups chicken broth

2 cups water

1 tablespoon salt

Pour 2 cups of chicken broth and the water into a large pot. Bring liquid to a boil and add the egg noodles. Cook 6-8 minutes, then strain noodles and set aside. Put the pot back on the burner and add the remaining chicken broth and the 2 cans of soup. Stir until creamy and thoroughly mixed together. Add the noodles, mushrooms, salt and chicken; stir together and cover. Simmer for 10 minutes.

Eat while still hot, but be sure to save some for the next day. The spices work best when they’ve been allowed to set overnight.


Alan’s Creamy Chicken Noodles

1 12-ounce package of egg noodles (I prefer No Yolks)

4-5 chicken thighs, boiled and shredded

1 pint heavy cream

5 garlic cloves, finely chopped or pushed through a garlic press

1 package of white or cremini mushrooms, chopped

½ medium yellow onion, diced

3 cups chicken broth

2 cups water

1 tablespoon salt

1 stick butter, unsalted

2 teaspoons flour

Boil the egg noodles, just as listed above. Strain and return the burner to the stove on medium heat. Melt ½ a stick of butter; sauté garlic and onions. Once the onions are soft, add the mushrooms. Cook about 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the other ½ stick of butter and allow it to melt. Add the flour and stir for a minute. Add cream and 1 cup chicken broth; stir and cook 1-2 minutes. Add chicken and egg noodles while stirring. Reduce heat to simmer and cover. Cook for 10 minutes.


• Want seconds? Visit Alan’s food blog