I'm confused by the Noods. Noodles & Gravy that is.
November 23, 2020 9:24 AM   Subscribe

Share with me your recipes, tips & tricks for noodles & gravy that don't taste like eating chewy glue in chicken slime like my first attempt at making them did.

My very Midwestern husband has requested Noodles & gravy to go with Thanksgiving Dinner. I am not American & the whole Thanksgiving thing is a mystery to me but I've got a nice prime rib roast (we don't like turkey), I'm doing mashed potatoes & even green beans though not casseroled, I've mastered the pumpkin pie.

But noodles & gravy are a mystery to me, there are a tonne of recipes out there & I have no idea where to start. Please share your noodle & gravy recipes with me & what your family loves about them.

Also is it possible to make them ahead & reheat them or finish cooking them on the day as I was hoping for a stress free Thursday.

Any tips & tricks appreciated as this has the added difficulty level of my MIL is letting me cook Thanksgiving Dinner for the first time in a decade.
posted by wwax to Food & Drink (15 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I don't have a recipe for you, but one thing I find makes a difference is using a lot of butter.

There's kind of a spectrum from "noodles with butter/salt/pepper, BTW also the noodles are chicken-flavored from being cooked in broth" to "noodles in a thick flour-based chicken gravy," and it's the right end of that spectrum where the gluiness sets in.

If you're at the left end of the spectrum, the broth will thicken some just from having the noodles cooked in it. But you might find you need to add a bit of extra flour. Just don't go nuts, and let the butter provide most of the body.
posted by nebulawindphone at 9:31 AM on November 23, 2020 [3 favorites]

Midwestern husband needs to find the specific recipe he would like made. There are vast regional differences just in "midwestern" states. Best of luck.
posted by tipsyBumblebee at 9:51 AM on November 23, 2020 [19 favorites]

I recommend against fully making and reheating as this will continue to cook the noodles into mush. Any time you cook noodles twice it's going to do this, so even if you were making this right before serving, fully cooked noodles will mushify if you put them in any liquid and cook them more (unless very very briefly, like a minute or less).

The best way is to partially cook the noodles, store them separately if you want to make ahead, and then combine with the gravy and then cook it through.

The recipe I use is more or less this one, though your husband may have a different family recipe that changes the ratios or additions. You can leave out the veg for a simpler dish, and if you dont want to use chicken to make the broth, just replace the broth with store bought or water with more of the bouillon. (Better Than Bouillon is my secret weapon, you'll never go back to powder cubes!)
posted by ananci at 9:56 AM on November 23, 2020

Response by poster: Unfortunately Midwestern husband isn't helpful except he likes the ones like his Grandma made. On the plus side he's super supportive & will happily eat whatever I cook, I'm the one futzing about getting them right. He can remember that the noodles where short like a 2 to 3 inches long & there was chicken or turkey meat in the gravy, also my noodles where too chewy so I may have made a mistake as I made them like you'd make pasta which seems to be wrong.
posted by wwax at 9:56 AM on November 23, 2020

Best answer: Start with six egg yolks and a teaspoon of salt (I also add a teaspoon of white pepper) - add two cups of flour, knead it all together, and then keep adding in flour and kneading it in until the dough is no longer wet/sticky to the touch. Put a bunch more flour on a flat surface, put the dough on top of the flour, and roll it out to about a quarter-inch thickness, maybe a little thinner (I usually end up cutting it into a few pieces and rolling the pieces out, because my table isn't large enough to fit the whole thing comfortably.) It helps to sprinkle the top of the dough with flour as well, to keep the rolling pin from sticking and to keep the finished noodles from sticking together when you cook them. Cut the dough into pieces roughly 2 inches long and 3/4 inch wide. Toss the cut noodles with a bit of additional flour, if they seem prone to sticking together. At this point, if you want, you can put the noodles in a bowl, cover them with a towel, and put them in the fridge overnight to finish cooking them the next day. To cook them, bring a pot of chicken broth to boil, enough to completely cover the noodles (I usually use roughly 3 32 oz cartons of broth.) Drop the noodles into the broth a few at a time, to prevent them from sticking together. Bring the heat down to a simmer, cover them, and continue to cook them for what seems like a surprisingly long time - budget at least an hour, this isn't like store-bought pasta that's done in 10 minutes. Stir things up occasionally while they're cooking to keep things from clumping together. The residual flour from the noodles will thicken the broth, you can (carefully, to avoid clumping) add more flour if it isn't getting as thick as you want it to be. You may also want to add additional salt to taste, but it is easy to overdo, so be sparing. The noodles are done when you can bite through one without encountering any mushiness. They are gross when undercooked but fairly tolerant of overcooking, as long as you don't burn them - make sure your heat isn't too high and to stir enough to keep them from clumping too long on the bottom to avoid that sad fate.
posted by jordemort at 10:10 AM on November 23, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Do yourselves a favor and buy egg noodles. It is way late to be dicking around trying to figure out pasta for Thursday. Focus on making quality gravy, cook the egg noodles al dente, finely dice some turkey, and you're done. Your husband and you can work together starting next week to nail down the recipe for next year. It's not going to be Grandma's recipe, it'll be better, because you'll have many opportunities to dial it in.
posted by disconnect at 10:19 AM on November 23, 2020 [23 favorites]

Best answer: Ok, next question for your husband: were the noodles skinny-in-all-directions like vermicelli, or wide and flat like shorter versions of the ones here or these here, or were they sort of plump like the ones in the picture here?
posted by nebulawindphone at 10:31 AM on November 23, 2020

Best answer: Spätzli rely on two things to hold them together: egg, and hard/durum bread flour. Otherwise you'll get a pan of paste.

Very midwestern husband could have German / Hungarian / Swiss ancestry so their noodles could be more like what I'd call dumplings.
posted by scruss at 11:16 AM on November 23, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: These frozen egg noodles sound like the right type of noodle. He'll probably want a chicken and dumplings-like gravy. You can probably make something like this, but with a little chicken broth added, and less cheese. Or use the chicken noodle soup recipe on that site but cutting the broth portion WAY down.
posted by hydra77 at 11:47 AM on November 23, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: If it was a beefy flavored gravy, this recipe might get you close. Most likely, a side dish from the midwest was probably made with various canned items (cream of mushroom and canned gravy).

Here's a similar chicken-flavored version.

Just saw that your mother in law will be present. Does she have any recollection of the noodles/gravy that might help you in figuring out the recipe?
posted by hydra77 at 11:51 AM on November 23, 2020 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Most likely, a side dish from the midwest was probably made with various canned items (cream of mushroom and canned gravy).

It could be, but this is far from true for all Midwestern cooks/recipes, especially for items that aren't casseroles. My Midwestern family never ever makes gravy with canned/prepared foods - we always make it from the drippings.

If it was made with canned soup it will have been very salty, which he might remember.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 12:09 PM on November 23, 2020 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Yeah, we need to triangulate which part of the midwest to get an approximation of grandma's recipe. I also agree that the Thanksgiving meal is not the time to learn how to make egg noodles.

The description of the noodles reminds me of Amish egg noodles sold in packages. I recall the size described because I used it to make a kugel so that is a possibility.

I suggest using packaged egg noodles or making classic Amish egg noodles. If you do not want to roast a whole chicken then roast some chicken thighs and deflesh to add to the gravy. Take the roasting pan drippings including all the rendered chicken fat and make a roue with flour. Use chicken stock or broth and if you have it better than bouillon to amp the chicken gravy flavor or even a chicken stock cube will do. You will be adding the chicken meat so it simmers in your gravy. I would prep the noodles al dente before letting it simmer with the gravy and chicken. You may want to add poultry seasoning as well.

This is the recipe served to my children at their Minnesota daycare.
posted by jadepearl at 12:49 PM on November 23, 2020 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: OK thanks everyone we seem to be narrowing it down. The Grandma was from the Illinois/Missouri area, about 2 hours from St Louis, if that helps.

Seems the general consensus is to go packaged egg noodles for thanksgiving so he's going to grab a bag today on the way home. We'll experiment from there over the winter with everyones ideas. and hopefully nail it down for Thanksgiving next year.
posted by wwax at 1:03 PM on November 23, 2020 [2 favorites]

Best answer: My mom was from southern Illinois, and I can tell you how she would have made it: with the drippings from the roast.

Set the roast on a platter. Then add some wine or broth to the pan and start scraping up the browned bits. You can transfer to another smaller pan, but she would just set the roasting pan on the stovetop on two burners on medium. All you really need is drippings, liquid, and flour to thicken, but sometimes she used to be fancy and put other things in. My favorite for beef gravy was onions (dried or precooked) and sour cream (stirred in at the end).

She bought packaged noodles, never made them from scratch, and she served the just-cooked hot noodles with the sauce separately. I'm guessing that makes it less gummy.

If she wanted to add bits of meat to it, it would always be the main meat she had cooked. She would not have chicken gravy with a roast beef dinner.
posted by Flock of Cynthiabirds at 1:50 PM on November 23, 2020

Best answer: If this is the Midwest version of chicken and noodles, look for Amish egg noodles. The Reames are okay too. The real key is the broth. My Gram always made it by cooking down a whole chicken and then pulling the chicken off. The bone broth makes it rich and will gel when it cools down. Chicken leg quarters are easier than a whole chicken.
posted by stray thoughts at 4:01 PM on November 23, 2020 [1 favorite]

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