But depending on where you grew up, you’re very likely not thinking of the same chicken and noodles dish I am.
The ingredients consist of one whole chicken, eggs, flour and salt. Nothing else.
Homemade Noodles Recipe
The first step is to boil the chicken into oblivion. Cover it with water in a stock pot. Add salt. Bring it to a boil and then let it gently simmer on the back burner for up to two hours. Check it after an hour — you want it falling off the bone.
While the chicken is simmering, break several eggs into a large bowl and give them a good mix. You don’t beat them, just mix them reasonably well. How many eggs? I knew you were going to ask that. I would probably use about 4-5. But you have to get over your fear of estimating right now, because this is not a dish that can be reduced to exact measurements.
Now add enough flour (and a pinch of salt or so) to make a dough that is just stiff enough to be rolled out. (As a very, very general guide, you’ll use a little less than a cup of flour per egg. It varies a lot, though.) Clear and clean a large working space and put on an apron, because this part can get messy! Thoroughly flour the countertop. Now flour it again, because you probably didn’t use enough flour the first time. Form the dough into a flattened disk (you may want to work with half of it at a time) and place it in the center of the floured area.
Dust the top of the dough with more flour and use your rolling pin to roll it flat, using the same general technique you’d use if rolling out pastry for a pie. Check every so often to make sure the dough isn’t sticking to the countertop and add more flour if it is.
If in doubt, add more flour.
Don’t worry about ragged edges or a weird final shape. Neither matters a bit. When the dough is nice and flat (about ⅛ inch or so — again, don’t sweat the details) you should once again flour the top generously and then begin rolling the dough up, jelly-roll fashion. Take a very sharp knife and cut the rolled-up dough into pinwheels. You can decide whether you want your noodles wider or narrower, it’s just personal preference.
Making Memories in Dough
If you have a child around, the next step is a good way of making memories. I used to uncurl all the dough pieces for my grandmother and mother. I have also let my granddaughter help me with this step. If there’s no child around when you make these, channel your inner 5-year-old and do it yourself. It’s fun.
Place all your uncurled, well-floured raw noodles on a large baking sheet or platter. Some people believe in letting them dry, but I never do because my mother and grandmother didn’t. Feel free to try it both ways!
Back to the chicken. Use tongs to lift the chicken onto a platter. Make sure no errant wings or other parts are still in there. Let the chicken set for a while, until it’s cool enough to handle. Check the level of the broth in the pan. You don’t want too much, or your dish will be too soupy. Go ahead and let it boil for a bit if needed to reduce the volume. You would ideally like a not-too-watery final dish to serve, so if there’s still a considerable volume, let it reduce while the chicken boils. There are way too many factors to take into consideration to provide you with an exact method of deciding how much to reduce the broth, but keep in mind if you over-reduce, you can easily add a bit more water.
In the meantime, debone the chicken. Oops, you didn’t wait long enough and burned your finger. Right? I do, every time. OK, wait five more minutes, and let’s try this again. Debone the chicken. You can, if you wish, reserve the chicken breasts for another use, such as a delicious chicken sandwich. You’ll have plenty of meat for the soup even so. Or, just add it all to the pot. You’ll be surprised how much meat you can get off one chicken.
When you’ve determined the amount of broth is about right, bring the broth to a rolling boil and add in all the chicken. Now, stirring constantly, add in noodles, a few at a time. Don’t let them stick together. Keep stirring. When you’ve got them all in there, assess the level of your broth. Do you think there’s not quite enough liquid? You can add more, a little at a time. But this is not meant to be a watery soup, so keep that in mind, too. All that flour that’s clinging to the noodles will help thicken things up as it cooks.
Test the noodles after a few minutes. Cooking time depends on the thickness and width, so just like everything else in this recipe, you’ll have to taste and assess.
When they’re done, turn off the heat and get ready for one of the most delicious tastes ever.
A couple of further tips: It’s really very little trouble to tip all the mess of skin and bones into a fresh stock pot, cover it with water, add a dash of salt and vinegar, and simmer it for a couple of hours. Then strain it and freeze it if you aren’t using it right away. Homemade chicken stock takes your soup to a whole new level
If you have a vegetarian in the house, as I do, reserve some of the noodles and cook them in boiling water to which you’ve added some butter. It’s not the same, but it allows the vegetarian to be a part of enjoying a special dish.