Thursday, January 23, 2014

Baby Kale and Kluski Noodles with Chicken

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When you google Chicken and Noodles, there are over 23 million results.  Anyone who cooks and isn't a vegetarian has probably made some variation on the Chicken and Noodles theme, such as this one from a couple of years ago on this very blog:
How quickly can you say Chicken and Noodles?

I will promise you that not every pot of chicken and noodles is created equally, despite the therapeutic advantages of most of them.   I could say more, but perhaps you yourself remember tasteless or greasy noodle messes you were forced to endure somewhere.  These deconstructed chicken and noodles -- as it were --aren't either of those things.  Neither are they the typical chicken and noodles all together in a big pot and ladled into deep bowls to warm you up or chase away a cold. (Though this might do both anyway.)  This meal is perhaps simpler, but is definitely just as satisfying and has the added bonus of several cups of fresh baby kale. Is it faster than a pot of chicken and noodles?  It's probably faster than most of them, but not as fast as my Chicken and Noodles Fast! (above)
You begin by bringing the water to boil for the noodles, move on to start the chicken browning, return to the noodles and add the kale….and, well, you get the picture.  By the time the chicken is done, so should be everything else, and dinner is ready.  A drizzle of pan juices, a squeeze of lemon and you're eating.
This is not some fancy meal; it's just dinner, but a pretty good one at that.  It's something you throw together when you look in the fridge and wonder how the available elements are coming together to sustain you and those you love--or at least are feeding….which might be the same thing.  The ingredients are definitely changeable:  use green onions or add green peppers if you'd like. Try dried basil if you have no fresh herbs.  Spinach if you have that instead of kale. Add some grated cheese; skip the lemon.  And so on.  Be your own cook, as it were.
Wine:  While rosé is typically summer fare, I like it with chicken.   If you have a bottle on the rack or in the fridge that you somehow never used, bring it out for this.  Otherwise, as a California Chardonnay fan, I'd probably choose that.  If only red will do, bring out a lighter red like a California (not an Oregon) Pinot Noir or a Beaujolais.
Try this:

baby kale and kluski noodles with chicken                         serves 4

Ingredients list at end.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and place rack in center.
Fill 6-quart pot half-full of water and season well with salt, pepper, and a few fresh sage leaves (or parsley). Cover and bring to a boil; add 1/2-pound Kluski* noodles. Let cook ten minutes, boiling, and add 5 cups fresh baby kale. Cook two more minutes or until both noodles and kale are as tender as you like them; drain.
While noodles drain, use same pot to sauté 1 large chopped red onion and 1 chopped yellow pepper with a pinch of crushed red pepper and 2 teaspoons minced fresh sage or parsley (optional) in a tablespoon of olive oil until vegetables are quite soft -- about ten minutes.  During last two minutes, add a cup of halved cherry tomatoes.  Return noodles and kale to pot and stir well with the tomato mixture. Taste and re-season if necessary. Cover to keep warm if chicken isn't yet finished.
In the meantime, while the water for the noodles is coming to a boil, heat a 12-inch oven-safe skillet over medium-high flame with two tablespoons olive oil until oil is quite hot.  
Place the generously salted and peppered dark pieces of one cut-up chicken** --the legs and thighs--and let brown about two minutes.  Add the breasts and the wings and continue to cook until all the pieces are well-browned.  Turn each piece and brown the other side. (About 10 minutes total.)
Place skillet with chicken in oven and roast until done through -- about another 20 - 25 minutes--or until instant read thermometer registers 165 degrees Fahrenheit.  Let chicken rest in pan five minutes or so.  Serve hot with the vegetables and noodles at the side.  Garnish with a last grind of fresh ground pepper and a drizzle of the juices from the pan of chicken. A squeeze of fresh lemon or orange juice finishes it off.
*I like Kluski noodles as they somewhat resemble fresh noodles in texture and taste, but are done more quickly than fresh or the very good frozen noodles available in most grocery stores.  Kluski noodles are a type of noodle and several different companies make them.  They cost a little more, but are worth it.
**Chicken must be seasoned well to taste like anything. There's nothing else on this chicken.  Be brave and use at least 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon or more fresh ground black pepper.
  •  1/2 pound Kluski or other egg noodles
  • Kosher salt, fresh ground pepper
  • Crushed red pepper
  • Fresh sage or parsley leaves (2-3 tablespoons)
  • 5 cups baby kale
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 yellow pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Olive Oil
  • 1 chicken cut into 8 pieces
  •  Juice of 1/2 lemon or orange
(below:  Miss Gab  and Tucker loving the winter light as I cook.)
Sing a new song and noodle up,


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