Easy Chicken and Noodles for an Uneasy Stomach

Comfort food calls to me after surviving a bout of stomach virus. However, during the recovery from a viral attack is not the best time for me to take on cookery that requires an all day effort like many comfort foods do.

The original of this recipe goes all the way back to my paternal great-grandmother, Anna Marie Fruth Fisher, and involves hand-made egg noodles and a long-simmered stewing hen.

I don’t know about y’all, but the last thing I wanted to do in my illness-famished state was stand around, making noodles from scratch, and smelling a hen simmer all day. It would have been physical and psychological torture.

Besides, I was short a hen, but I did have some chicken breasts and a couple of quarts of Pacific Organic chicken broth.

And, I had a pressure cooker.

And, as stand-ins for the delicate, yet still toothsome homemade noodles, I had Rossi Pasta’s handmade fettucini. I broke them into thirds to turn them into noodles and decided that they would do quite nicely.

And they did.

So, someday in the future, I will write about the real recipe for this dish, the one my great grandmother taught her daughter-in-law, Gram, who taught it to her daughter-in-law, my mother, who taught it to me. It will involve an old hen simmered all day with bay leaves and onions, picking the meat from the bones, and rolling out and cutting egg noodle dough by hand. I’ll tell you my Gram’s unique method of drying the noodles when she was making them for her five kids, and how I requested that dish every birthday until I was twenty, as my birthday dinner, and how my Mom, even though it was a pain in the rear end, cooked it for me anyway.

Oh–and you will notice, that the noodles are served over mashed potatoes.

I know what you are thinking. “Who in their right mind would put noodles over mashed potatoes–would you like some starch with your starch?”

Well, I think it is an eastern European farm tradition. I know that it wasn’t just my Dad’s Bavarian family who ate hearty chicken stew with homemade noodles over mashed potatoes–I have it on good authority that there are folks of Polish and Czech descent in the Midwest who eat the same starch-laden meal.

I suspect it is one of those meals you fed folks who worked hard on the farm, milking cows, feeding swine, tilling fields, mending fences and watering horses all before lunch. Calorie-laden foods like that were used to keep farmers going back when people actually broke their backs to scratch a living out of the soil.

Nowadays, I eat this dish only once or so a year, if that, when I am feeling nostalgia for my childhood or I need a dose of comforting, warm, safe food for an unhappy stomach.

Fast and Easy Chicken and Noodles

2 tablespoons olive oil or butter
3 leeks, thinly sliced, rinsed and soaked in water until clean, then dried thoroughly
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon powdered dried rosemary
1/2 teaspoon herbs de Provence
freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 bay leaves
2 whole boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup dry white wine
2 1/2 quarts chicken broth or stock
1 cup sliced carrots
1 package Rossi Pasta fettucini, broken into thirds (or noodles of your choice)
roux or flour slurry to thicken broth
1/4 cup minced fresh tarragon


Heat olive oil or butter in pressure cooker on high. Add leeks, and saute until they are limp and begin to look transluescent. Add garlic and herbs, continue stirring until very fragrant. Add pepper and chicken breasts and white wine, simmer off alcohol.

Add 2 quarts of broth or stock, bring to a boil, close and lock lid on highest pressure setting. When the cooker is brought up to pressure and the lid seals, turn down the heat and set the timer for eight minutes. When the timer goes off, take cooker from heat, open steam valve and release pressure fully. Open cooker and fish out cooked chicken with tongs, and set aside on a cutting board.

Add carrots to broth, bring to a boil, close lid, lock it, bring to full pressure, turn the heat down to medium low and set timer for two minutes. When timer goes off, take cooker from heat, open valve and release pressure. Remove lid, put the cooker back on the heat, and set aside lid–it is done for the evening.

Cut up chicken into bite sized pieces. Bring broth to a boil, adding the last half cup of broth. When it is boiling, add noodles and cook for about four minutes. (These fresh pasta noodles cook very quickly.) When they are nearly done, use a slotted spoon or bamboo handled wire strainer utensil to fish out noodles. Set into bowl.

Thicken broth with roux or slurry.

Add chicken and noodles to thickened broth, and sprinkle in fresh tarragon. Bring to a simmer to reheat chicken and noodles.

Serve over mashed potatoes. (Or, even better, garlic mashed potatoes.)


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  1. This dish looks fantastic. I don’t understand why anyone would object to starch with your starch. Samosas? Pierogies? My favorite Greek diner serves Moussaka, which is made with potatoes, with side dishes of rice and potatoes. I love it.

    Comment by mzn — December 6, 2005 #

  2. Remember, MZN–we are in the era of “I can’t eat that, it has -CARBS-!”

    Carb-phobia seems to be slowing down, thankfully. While there are some who should probably be on a low-glycemic diet, the faddish portions of the whole thing worked my very last nerve.

    Uh oh. I sense another rant coming on….

    Comment by Barbara — December 6, 2005 #

  3. As soon as the carb-obsession winds down, something new & even goofier will take its place.

    The first time I heard about the low-carb business (I think it was one of the first times Barbara heard of it, too) my father, a physician, and my sister, then a nutritionist, were talking about how horrified they both were that someone would want to purposefully induce ketosis. That’s colored my perception of it ever since, although it seems that the effects of regimen is somewhat better understood now than they were then.

    Comment by Zak — December 7, 2005 #

  4. I was going to leave a comment about how my mother used to make those homemade noodles for us and we called them “fat noodles”. Than I clicked over to your comments and saw that last comment you wrote to Michael. Since I am one of those who chooses to restrict carbs (I’m not a fanatic but lower carb eating makes me feel and look much better) I guess your comment kind of got on my last nerve too. Now mind you, I know this is YOUR blog, not mine, so I don’t mean to go into a rant and leave a snarky comment, but why do you care whether other people eat carbs or not? Eat what works for you and your health and let others do the same I say.

    Comment by Kalyn — December 7, 2005 #

  5. Kalyn, it isn’t that I care what people eat–because, as I said, a lot of people do very well on a low-glycemic diet.

    What I mind is the hype surrounding the diet, and the comments I have heard from people in restaurants berating waiters for putting bread on their plates, and the like.

    Really, I don’t care if you don’t eat carbs.

    Just don’t be carb-phobic and obnoxious about it. (Which I am sure you, personally are not–but some people are.)

    Comment by Barbara — December 7, 2005 #

  6. Hi Barbara,
    It’s Kalyn again. I came back to say sorry if I was being snarky (in spite of trying not to.) It’s just that I’m NOT a fanatic and I get sick of getting lumped in with those who are and maybe I am a little too sensitive. Anyway, your response was great. Just how I feel. Have a good day.

    Comment by Kalyn — December 7, 2005 #

  7. Kalyn–I know how you feel. I know quite a few vegetarians and vegans (and animal rights activists, for that matter) who feel exactly the same way you do.

    Anytime you have a lifestyle or a movement of conscience, or even a nutritional or diet trend, you end up with “the lunatic fringe–” a small percentage of people involved in that lifestyle/movement/dietary disciple/religion/political movement, who are extremists. They are invariably the loudest proponents of whatever they believe in, and they tend to be the ones who drown out the moderate voices of the majority.

    They are the fundamentalists–they have a black and white worldview, and in some cases, not only are they irritating to people within and without their movements/lifestyles/disciplines/religions/communities,
    they alienate everyone else. And what happens, is invariably, the moderates who share some of thier beliefs/philosophies/practices get smeared by the backlash against the fundamentalist, boorish behavior engaged in by the small group.

    I am really sorry to have offended you–I should have been clearer–I thought it was obvious when I said that some people would do well on the low glycemic diets–I know several who do, and support thier food choices because I have seen with my own eyes the results–that I was speaking of the loudmouthed minority of people who use their dietary choices as bludgeons to the rest of the world. I should have been much clearer, and I will try to be in the future.

    The other “hype” that surrounds the low-glycemic diet trend that I do not appreciate, is the amount of low-carb snacks that have come out on the market that really add nothing positive to any diet. To my mind–people should endeavor to leave such highly processed foods behind and eat meals from whole foods–real ingredients–and make a real lifestyle change–their bodies will thank them for it.

    I don’t appreciate the marketing that surrounds the diet industry–I think that a lot of companies make a lot of money feeding people’s insecurities by peddling foods that are not nutritious and are actively detrimental, just so people can feel like they are doing something healthy, but they may not be.

    But then, the whole diet industry, which I think targets women more often than men, is sexist and unhealthy, but that is fodder for an entirely different rant!

    Thanks for stopping back by, Kalyn–I really value your input here. Please comment again. That is the best part of having a blog–being able to foster dialogue among people. It is much more of an interactive experience than just reading a food magazine or cookbook, and that is what I like best about writing Tigers & Strawberries nearly every day.

    Comment by Barbara — December 7, 2005 #

  8. Barb, I too make this comfort dish a couple of times a year!! I have discovered that Amish noodles are an excellent substitute for home made noodles when you are pressed for time. The extra wide noodles are almost as good as mother’s. Slurp, smack. Love,jUDY

    Comment by yourauntjudy — December 7, 2005 #

  9. If I had some of the local Amish noodles about, I’d have snagged some and used them. But all that lurked in my cabinets were ones from Rossi.

    And they are quite delectable, and taste very like Gram’s. Not so much like Mom’s hers had more body–I think she developed the gluten in the dough more than Gram did.

    Comment by Barbara — December 7, 2005 #

  10. i just had this for dinner last night!!! and left overs today! my mom has mad chicken noodlesoup over mashed potatoes for as long as i can remember OH its so good i load mine up with butter:)

    Comment by amber — November 2, 2007 #

  11. My mother used to make this all the time and I thought she had made it up! She’s been dead 17 years and I am so excited to find this.

    Comment by Janet — December 27, 2007 #

  12. My sister, brother and I grew up on homemade noodles served over mashed potatoes. I too believe it is a mid-western dish because no one in Texas had ever heard of it and thought it sounded disgusting. They don’t know what they are missing.

    Comment by Kay — December 27, 2007 #

  13. Janet–it probably came to the Midwest from Germany–at least that is what I have been told.

    I am glad to help you out with this recipe, though!

    Kay–I have introduced so many people to this recipe who at first think it sounds icky, but who end up happily converted.

    Comment by Barbara — December 30, 2007 #

  14. Thanks for sharing. I’m doing a little bit of informal research on this recipe. I did a post on chicken and noodles. It seems to be a midwest thing. I grew up in Kansas and we ate this dish on a regular basis in the winter.

    I did a google search for chicken & noodles with mashed potatoes, and turned up a lot of school cafeteria lunch menus in the midwest.

    I appreciate you taking the time to share.

    take care,

    Comment by muddywaters — March 13, 2009 #

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