Sunday, March 20, 2011

Confessions of a Comfort Food Addict: Sour Cream Chicken & Noodle Bake

Hi, my name is The Family Foodie and I’m a comfort food addict.

Hi, Foodie.

It’s been at least five years since I’ve made my mother’s tuna-noodle casserole. But, I confess, that’s only because I know it’s not healthy to keep secrets, and I’ve learned that there are things you just shouldn’t tell people.  Like the fact that you actually enjoy your mother’s tuna-noodle casserole. (Okay, I get that it’s not pretty, but it tastes good.)  Or the fact that you occasionally, just once in awhile, like every five years or so, get a craving for aerosol cheese on a Ritz cracker.

I’m not saying that’s true of me.  I’m not saying I would ever, ever eat something so disgusting.  I’m just saying that, if it were true of me, I’d be smart enough not to tell anyone. I certainly wouldn’t blog about it.

But I’ve also learned that there are ways to get around people’s snobby attitudes about comfort food.  You can, for instance, substitute chicken for the canned tuna in your mother’s tuna-noodle casserole.  I don’t know why chicken is more socially acceptable than tuna, but think of the way people respond when you tell them you’re going to eat chicken noodle soup, or chicken and dumplings.  Does anyone ever say “You are kidding me”?  No.  If they say anything at all, it’s something like “Mmmmmm.”

You can also eliminate the condensed soup that usually stands in for the sauce in tuna-noodle casserole and make your own–a little sour cream, some milk, some Parmesan cheese. That’s just about all it takes.  You’d be surprised how quickly snobby attitudes about food disappear when that food is made from scratch. Even if it’s basically the same exact thing. 

Lastly, you have to give the disguised favorite a new name–think of this as the equivalent of the Witness Protection Program for your favorite comfort casserole.  My suggestion is to list several of the ingredients, preceded or followed by the method of preparation (roast, stir-fry, bake, etc.)

Hence, I give you

Sour Cream Chicken & Noodle Bake

8 oz. wide egg noodles
2 T. butter
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup light sour cream
1/2 cup evaporated milk (or regular milk–your sauce will just be a little thinner)
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 cup cooked chicken–diced, shredded, whatever you like
Panko bread crumbs, just enough to sprinkle on top
Additional Parmesan cheese for sprinkling on top

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and let the egg noodles cook while you’re making the sauce.  Melt the butter over medium heat in a large skillet, then add the minced garlic.  Allow the garlic to simmer until it’s fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes.  Lower the heat and add the sour cream, milk, Parmesan cheese and nutmeg.  Stir until everything is combined.  Let this mixture heat through, but don’t let it come to a boil.

After the noodles are done, drain and add them to the skillet with the sauce.  Stir to coat the noodles. (If this mixture looks too dry for your taste, add a little more milk and stir again.  I like them fairly dry at this point, which leads to noodles that stick together after baking.  If you want them creamy, though, go ahead and add more milk now.)

Turn the coated noodles into a casserole dish that’s been sprayed lightly with cooking oil.  Layer the cooked chicken on top of the noodles; sprinkle everything liberally with panko bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese.  If you prefer, you can stir the chicken into the noodles–I like this layering of the noodles and chicken because the bread crumbs stick to the chicken during the baking process and give it a crispy coating.  It makes for a nice textural contrast.

Bake the noodles and chicken for 20 to 30 minutes, until the topping starts to brown.  I always serve this casserole with baby peas, which I like to put right on top of my noodles–the sweet, squishy peas add another textural element to the crunchy topping and chewy noodles.


One Response to “Confessions of a Comfort Food Addict: Sour Cream Chicken & Noodle Bake”

  1. 1

    Cyn Huddleston — March 20, 2011 @ 9:44 pm

    Try naming it Princess Kate Casserole. She is really hot in the news now that she and Prince William will be marrying soon. (On my 29th wedding anniversary, BTW.) And those royals have cachet amongst several elements of our more snobbish society.

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