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Chicken Noodle Almost-Failure

February 12, 2012

Some of my strengths are also curses. For example, I begin recipes with too much confidence and ambition. Where this self-assured chef comes from, no one knows. My cooking record indicates anything but culinary aptitude.

To take you up to speed, Grisha hasn’t been feeling well. Winter has sort of begun (there is frost in the mornings) and everyone is feeling a little under the weather. Enter my idea: chicken noodle soup.

Delusionally ambitious, I was determined to give the Pioneer Woman‘s recipe a try. Why cook a whole chicken when I could just buy stock? Because of my favorite childhood movie, Amelie.  I departed for the store having already changed the recipe in my mind (over ambitious clue #1): I was going to use heart-shaped noodles for Valentines Day. Luckily, I arrived at Southern Seasons to get the special pasta 45 minutes before the store opened (over ambitious clue #2) so I killed time by doing my regular grocery shopping first. I will blame the extra time, not my naïveté, but while contemplating which chicken to buy, I decided to buy two and double the recipe (#3). I did not even consider whether we had a pot big enough for 8 quarts of water and 2 whole chickens (we do not – #4).

I got home feeling jazzed up about my adventure, positive that Grisha will love it. I lost count of how many quarts I’d added because I was trying to use a 1-cup-measuring cup 32 times (#5). I then quartered the chickens and added them to the pot of 6-8ish quarts of water, and immediately had to take out some water because the pot was overflowing and that was just the first chicken. Then simmer, simmer, simmer, and viola, next step…

De-meating took me close to 2 hours and left me with what can only be quantified as 3 equal quantities of meat, fat/skin and bones. Somehow that doesn’t seem anatomically correct. I may or may not have dropped one of the main carcasses on the floor while trying to fish it out with a fork (#6, that’s why slotted spoons were invented). Nothing a little rinsing off couldn’t fix. I cried a little while chopping the optional onion, but didn’t nick myself this time. I cooked the pasta separately in a pot that was way t0o small and of course the cooked-hearts turned out barely distinguishable from malformed alphabet-soup pieces. Before I knew it I had to split the recipe into two pots because the broth+chicken bits+noodles wouldn’t fit in one (#7). By that point I had used every kitchen item we own that is deeper than 1 inch.

Naturally, I brought the extra pot of soup over to my folks so they could taste test for me. First bite, and their faces puckered. I had forgotten to add salt (#8).

Luckily, that’s the easiest mistake in world to fix. Try cleaning the greasy-chicken-carcass-spot off of the floor.

And I have more heart-shaped pasta to try again in a bigger pot that doesn’t require constantly scraping and stirring to prevent a massive pasta-ball from forming. So today is definitely a win. Except that I doubt any of you will ever trust my cooking again. I swear, I rarely drop the most important ingredient on the floor.

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