Dear Spring. Can you come back—and stay?
April has been a month of highs and lows—70’s, then 30’s, radiant sun, insane snow. Yes, for the roller coaster of April, a body needs need comfort food. So I decided to try a version of a dish I remember from childhood, Cider Chicken & Noodles. Reliving childhood food = I can make it until summer.
The original dish used sausage, but since I had chicken (actually turkey) on hand, I decided to use that, adding bacon (or side pork in this case) to keep the rich goodness. Natural cooking can mean working with what you have!
The dish is flavored with wine, cider and caraway for a home style German feel–but just a little lighter. I love the fact that it gives you a serving of fruit (apples & cider) plus a serving of vegetables (sauerkraut). Just add a salad and dinner is done.
There was one other component to my motivation. Recently, I cut up a huge turkey.
I remember my mother cutting up whole turkeys when we were kids. Buy a big bird during the Thanksgiving sales. Thaw it partially in the spare fridge so you can move the legs (with effort), but it still has ice crystals. Then cut it into leg quarters, wings, slice the breast into cutlets and boil the carcass for broth. How often can you get turkey cutlets for under $1/pound? Even cheaper if your sister-in-law gives you a (ginormous) bird she decided not to use.
I kept the turkey in the freezer for months, intimidated by the whole prospect. Then I got up my courage, found a great link with tips on the internet and went to work. It all felt good, but it’s definitely a once a year project!
There is one little quirk to serving this if you are using fresh (with the live cultures) sauerkraut (like homemade or a refrigerated commercial like Zymbiotics). Heating the kraut up with the sauce will kill the cultures and reduce the probiotic benefits, so I added it as I served it. If you are using a heat-canned kraut, you can add it anytime.
Of course the dish I remember from childhood didn’t have wine (or probiotics). I guess this means that comfort food can get even better when you grow up!
- • 3 slices thick bacon (or 2 of side pork), diced
- • 1 medium onion, chopped
- • 2 cloves garlic
- • 1 lb skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips (or turkey or lean pork)
- • 1/3 c flour
- • 1 cup apple cider, apple juice or broth (see note)
- • 3/4 cup white wine
- • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
- • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- • ½ teaspoon salt
- • 2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- • 3 apples, cored and chopped (no need to peel)
- • 2 1/2 cups sauerkraut
- • 10 oz wide egg noodles or whole wheat fettuccine
- Sautee bacon in large frying pan until mostly crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Drain and reserve all but about 1 tablespoon of the fat.
- Add onion and garlic to the frying pan and cook until turning golden. Push to the side of the pan.
- Dredge the chicken strips in flour. Add 2 tablespoons of reserved fat to frying pan and sautee the chicken until almost cooked through.
- Deglaze the pan with the wine, scraping up any browned bits. Add the salt, pepper, mustard, caraway, reserved bacon, chopped apple and cider. Simmer, stirring periodically until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce is thickened. (Adjust flour/wine if needed for proper thickening)
- To serve, drain the hot pasta and stir the sauerkraut into the noodles. Pour into a serving dish or dishes, then top with the chicken and sauce. Serve immediately
- If you don't have apple cider, you can use broth--in that case, add an extra chopped apple or two to bring out the apple flavor.