Comfort Food Season

After several days of having to wear a jacket when going out, and seeing a hard frost this morning, I had to admit that autumn is in full force. I love autumn, so that’s ok with me, but October was, in general, pretty warm this year, and the fall colors were a but muted due to SW Ohio being in a bit of a drought right now. Realizing we’re actually out of a hot summer is a good feeling.

Colder weather makes me think of comfort foods. We all have our favorites, and they typically come from our childhoods. Chili can be “it” for some people, or vegetable soup. Maybe it’s grilled cheese sandwiches with tomato soup or spaghetti and meatballs… But all of the above HAVE to be made like our moms made them. I know this has been an issue in lots of marriages, when the new wife can’t make the new husband’s comfort food like “mom used to make it”!

So what’s my comfort food? If you paid any attention to the photos, it’s obviously chicken and noodles. I’d never made it before today, so it took a couple of phone calls to Mom to make sure I had the right approach. It’s easy, actually, but I needed to get it the right way to be my comfort food, but still with a Livefire spin on it.

The ingredients were simple:

  • 1 chicken
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 lb egg noodles (for me, country style, not too thick, not too thin, maybe 1/2″ wide)
  • Mashed potatoes as required

What does “mashed potatoes as required” mean? I’ll let you know in a bit…

chicken

The Livefire spin on my mom’s (and my grandma’s) chicken and noodles was in the first step. Instead of cooking the chicken in the oven or on the stovetop, I cut up the chicken and put it into a Dutch oven, covered it with the stock and water along with a bit of salt and pepper, and then put the pan on a smoker at 350 with a bit of pecan wood smoking. This ended up adding a bit of smokiness, but not so much that it really stood out and changed the dish.

cut up chicken

The chicken cooked for about an hour or so, until it was at 165F, then I removed the chicken from the stock and set it aside. The stock when on the stove, still in the Dutch oven, over high heat until it started to boil. The noodles were added and boiled for about 10 minutes (or until tender). While the noodles were cooking, I took all the skin off the chicken to throw out, then cut up all the meat from the chicken.

smoke-braising

chicken ready to be cut up

broth

AFter the noodles were ready, the meat from the chicken just gets added to it, no draining needed. I simmered this for a few more minutes. Now came the part with the mashed potatoes. And this is where my wife won’t join me in my favorite comfort food… I put a layer of mashed potatoes in the bottom of a bowl before adding the chicken and noodles on top of it, pretty much adding equal parts of each. Enough broth needs to be added with the noodles to stir up and whole thing. Yes, it’s two starches in one meal, but that’s just how chicken and noodles works!

Mash

chicken & noodles

The main thing missing from the whole endeavor was that I had store-bought Amish noodles. They were good, but my grandma’s were better, of course. I think I’m going to have to make egg noodles the next time I do this. But, overall, I got what I needed from my comfort food, and it was close enough that it felt good on a cold, November day.

My number comfort food

My wife had a suggestion to add carrots. I love my wife, and I usually will listen to her suggestions, but not with my chicken and noodles. Comfort foods usually cannot be improved upon; they can only hopefully be as good as the original that Mom made, or Grandma.

About Curt McAdams

I guess I'm a bit of a foodie, learning to cook from my mom, then getting obsessed with outdoor cooking, competition barbecue, bread baking and just about all things food. Lately, I've been trying to upgrade my photography skills a bit, though I still have a long way to go.

6 comments

  1. Then I guess you wouldn’t want the recommendation of adding some peas too, ha ha. That’s the thing with comfort food, you nailed it – It’s personal and usually based on how Ma or Grandma made it. There’s no altering the memory or meal.

  2. OH MAN! This is the exact same dinner my mom would make. Even the home made egg noodles you lament not having! Thanks! Brought back great memories – and that is an ingredient to the best comfort food!

  3. Chris,

    A little secret of mine is that I like to add very fresh peas to things like this, bu tnot as it’s cooking. And it’s the one addition I can do with this, as it’s something I’ve added on my own for years, too. I’m more likely not to add peas, though, and just let this stand on its own.

    CB,

    I don’t think comfort food can be comfort food without the memories. It can be hearty, stick-to-your-ribs type food, but my comfort food isn’t yours, even if it’s the same dish, because we derive comfort from it differently.

    And my mom told me yesterday how to make the noodles…

  4. We actually got snow a couple days ago in the Northeast. It’s nuts. It’s fun to see your comfort food … double starch! I’m interested that you cook the chicken with the skin on. Do you feel the fat adds to the taste of the broth?

  5. Ninette,

    I remember years where we had snow on the ground here in SW Ohio before the end of October, but we’ve only gotten a bit of snow overnight once so far, nothing sticking except to cars and roofs. I’m not ready for too much snow yet!

    The skin on is because that’s how it’s done. :) That’s how Grandma did it, so I did, but I’m pretty sure that it’s to add to the broth more than anything else.

  6. Daniel Keltner

    I love the idea of mashed potatoes in the bottom of the bowl. When I do mine, I actually do end up smoking the chicken with a spicy rub. Then, when everything comes together, I get a combination of comfort food and enough spice to clear up my sinuses. Keep going, love everything you do!

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