Raw chicken disgusts me. That I ever manage to cook anything with it is, in itself, an amazing achievement. That I manage to cook anything delicious with it is, quite simply, a fucking miracle.
Behold: A Fucking Miracle. (
quality phone pic)
Until about a year and a half ago, I was predominantly vegetarian, and had been for nearly 30 years. I grew up in a family of a bunch of savage (perhaps an exaggeration) hunting carnivores, and although I tried my damnedest to raise my offspring to embrace vegetarianism, it turned out to be an utter, disappointing fail. And although it was my personal choice to eat a primarily vegetarian diet for the better part of my adult life, I didn’t force it on anyone else and I didn’t (mostly) preach about why that was my choice. Bambi, Chicken Little, Babe
I eat turkey on occasion (here’s a jaunty little rhyme for Thanksgiving), and chicken on less occasion. And even less occasionally, I’ll prepare it.
One of the things I make with chicken is chicken noodle soup, and usually only when someone is sick. Well, yesterday was the day. The result of yesterday’s kitchen feat was some truly badass chicken noodle soup. Give it a go and perhaps you, too, will bypass the Campbell’s aisle forevermore.
I’ll tell you up front that this is a rather labor-intensive process for chicken noodle soup, but the sicklies loved it, so it was worth it… chicken fat (ohh, the chicken fat), bones, weird grisly parts, skin, and all.
Let’s move on before I gross myself out all over again.
Serves: 4-6, depending on your idea of a serving and how much everyone likes it.
Prep Time: I have no idea how long this took. It only occurred to me after-the-fact to write down the recipe, so I wasn’t paying attention to the clock much. Let’s just say it took what seemed like a long damn time considering I had to deal with the chicken twice. In reality, it probably took 2 ½ hours from start to finish, including roasting and simmering times.
1 large voluptuous chicken boob with bone, skin, and all that glorious, disgusting chicken fat attached. Don’t worry, we won’t eat the chicken fat.
1 quart chicken stock (you can use broth but I prefer stock because it’s heartier)
2 carrots, scraped (vs. peeled) and rinsed, ends removed, cut into 2” pieces
2 celery stalks (personally, I like the little tender ones with leaves on the inside of the bunch – partially because they’re so cute), cut into 2” pieces
½ onion, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, peeled, mashed and chopped
2 more large garlic cloves, peeled, mashed and chopped, because… garlic
2 T butter
1 T olive oil
½ t fresh thyme, divided (yes, it is possible to divide ½ teaspoon, and I realize it hardly seems worth the effort. You can use more, but this is how much I used.) (If using dried, about ¼ t. Good luck dividing that. And in that case, you might as well double the amount anyway.)
1 T fresh rosemary, divided (if using dried, about 1 t, divided)
2 T fresh parsley, undivided (if using dried, about 2 t, divided)
2 bay leaves
2 more bay leaves
1 C egg noodles, preferably homemade… but I don’t make my own, so… (My egg noodles were homemade, but by my mom. So much better than store-bought. It’s that time of year for church bazaars, though, so maybe you can find one where the church ladies are selling homemade noodles. My grandma always made them and the recipe has been passed down. No comparison to what you buy in the store, but I have been known to buy them from the store. Not judging.)
Preheat the oven to 375 F.
Put the vegetables and 2 bay leaves into an oven-safe dish (a clay roaster is perfect, if you happen to have one, or an enameled cast iron pot).
Rinse the boob and pat it dry. Leave all of the grossness attached. I did this partially because I wanted to avoid fondling it as much as possible. The fat and skin add flavor, though, so there is some cooking logic behind my wienie ways. But mostly it was to avoid dealing with it any more than necessary.
Smear 1 tablespoon of the butter all over the chicken. Shove some of the first 2 smashed garlic cloves and some of the divided rosemary and thyme under the skin in various parts, then press some of the garlic down on top of the buttered boob. Plop the other tablespoon of butter and any remaining garlic from the first two cloves in with the vegetables. (Reserve the other 2 cloves of garlic, 2 bay leaves, ½ the rosemary, ½ the thyme, and all of the parsley for later.)
Lay the boob skin side up on top of the vegetables and drizzle the olive oil over it. Sprinkle with ½ teaspoon salt* and ½ teaspoon pepper*.
*Not all salt is created equal. I often use Kosher or sea salt, but for another flavor dimension, my personal favorite is pink Himalayan salt. It does have a different taste, and it’s pink. Pink. Salt. Of course you can use regular table salt, or whatever you have. But… pink… salt. It also makes you look like Culinary Coolness when your friends come over and see that you use salt from the Himalayas.
*Same goes for pepper. Any pepper will do. I wasn’t going to mention it, but did you know there are pink peppercorns? Yeah, I know. I don’t have any, but I do have tri-color peppercorns, which is what I used for this recipe. It also tastes different than your run-of-the-(pepper)mill black pepper, but obviously use what you have.
Back to the dish. Cover your boob with the lid (or aluminum foil, if you must. I never – and I mean never – use aluminum foil to cook or bake with. Ever. Aluminum particles do lodge into your food, which you then digest. That shit accumulates in your body and screws you up. But do what you like.) Bake for 30 minutes.
Remove the lid/foil and turn the temperature up to 425. Bake for an additional 15 minutes. (Don’t ask me why I did this. I had no particular reason. Probably because the skin looked weird and rubbery and I wanted a tan boob when I took it out of the oven. It turned out to be a good idea because it was easier to take the skin off when it was crispy, thereby making it a less squeamish process for me.)
Remove from oven and let rest for 15 minutes.
Remove the chicken from the bone and discard skin, bones, fat and any other gross parts. (Or you could transfer it all to a pot, add chicken stock, broth, or water and cook it down (on simmer) to make bone broth.) Reserve the cooked vegetables and liquid. Cube, shred or do whatever you want with the chicken so that it’s in bite-size’ish pieces (unless, of course, you prefer big chunks; go for it) and put in a large pot.
Cut carrots and celery into bite-size pieces and add to pot. (Or you can discard the cooked vegetables and use fresh carrots and celery for the soup. If opting for this, I personally wouldn’t add onion, but do it if it’s your preference.) Discard bay leaves and any dried up herbs. Pour liquid from the roaster into the soup pot. Add stock and remaining garlic, fresh bay leaves, herbs, 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Do not add noodles yet.
With the lid cracked, bring soup to a boil on medium heat. Stir, taste and adjust salt and pepper to your liking, then reduce to simmer. Simmer for 30 minutes, or 15 if you’re starving, stirring occasionally. (If you added fresh carrots and celery, you’ll obviously want to simmer until the veggies are tender.) Adjust salt and pepper, adding a cup or more of water or stock for a thinner soup or if it’s too salty. (I often add a teaspoon or two of Better than Bouillon to enhance the flavor.)
Turn heat up to medium to bring the soup back to a low boil. Add noodles by sprinkling a few at a time, stirring gently. Cook according to package directions or until noodles are al dente (cooked, but firm, not mushy). Tip: keep the soup from coming to a hard boil to prevent noodles from becoming tough, especially if using homemade noodles.
Dinner! Serve with crusty French bread, crackers, or just your spoon.
For a truly amazing bowl of joy, ladle into oven-safe individual dishes and top with a piece of Gouda, provolone, or other favorite cheese and put on the top rack of the oven on a cookie sheet. Broil for a few minutes until the cheese turns golden brown, bubbly, and crusty. Carefully remove from the oven and serve with a warning. I wouldn’t do this for little ones, of course, but for you… And with that crusty bread? Wow. Serve with a glass of wine, or beer if that’s your thing. Yum it up.
After dinner, have someone else clean up the kitchen because the chicken remains are repulsive and you shouldn’t have to deal with them a third time.
Meanwhile, have yourself a piece of dark chocolate and a cup of coffee with real cream and call it a night.