Sunday, July 27, 2014

Chicken, Broccoli, and Noodles

We've had a busy last few days, Randy working and me volunteering, a day trip to the Pacific Ocean to visit friends, and both of us playing water volleyball, so we wanted something good but fast for dinner tonight. Unfortunately, I didn't start anything in a Crock-Pot this morning, so it's in the kitchen making something yummy but easy. This is one of my favorite recipes for times like these - plus, it has the added benefit of being really flexible - be sure to see some suggested substitutions or options at the end of the recipe. And it makes yummy leftovers - what could be better?

Chicken, Broccoli, and Noodles
Makes about 6 servings
Leftovers reheat well

3/4 cup chicken broth
12 - 16 ounces skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
12 ounce package egg noodles
2 cups broccoli florets, either fresh or frozen
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 1/2 cups milk, heated
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper, or to taste

  1. In a frying pan, poach the pieces of chicken in chicken broth, adding more broth if necessary
  2. Meanwhile, bring water to a boil in a large pot; add noodles when water boils and cook according to package directions (about 8 minutes); drain noodles; set aside keeping hot
  3. In a saucepan, steam or boil the broccoli until just tender; drain and set aside
  4. In a saucepan, make a Béchamel (white sauce) by melting the butter, then adding the flour; cook flour and butter for a few minutes, but don't let it brown; whisk in the hot milk and continue cooking until sauce has thickened; add white pepper and mix well
  5. In a large serving dish, combine chicken, broccoli, noodles, and Béchamel and mix well

Substitutions and Options:
  • You can increase or decrease the amount of chicken and/or broccoli according to what you have in your kitchen or to your tastes
  • You can jazz up the chicken by adding thyme, a couple lemon slices, a little onion or garlic to the poaching liquid
  • You can substitute 2 (10 1/2 ounce) cans of Cream of Chicken soup and 3/4 cup of milk for the Béchamel (but the Béchamel is really easy and tastes better!)
  • To make this fancier, poach chicken breasts whole and slice into nice pieces after cooking; use broccoli spears instead of florets and arrange them next to the chicken slices on top of the cooked egg noodles; drizzle the Béchamel over all and pass the extra in a gravy boat
  • To add a pop of color, dice a red bell pepper and steam with broccoli the last 2 minutes or so
  • To make this richer, make the Béchamel an Alfredo sauce by adding 4 - 6 ounces grated Parmesan cheese and 4 - 8 ounces cream cheese
  • You can substitute mashed potatoes, steamed rice, barley, quinoa, polenta, pasta, or spaghetti squash for the egg noodles
  • You can substitute turkey breast or even boneless pork loin for the chicken; once, I even substituted a couple of sliced hard boiled eggs for the meat

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