Saturday, January 15, 2011
Home Cooking: The Patient Noodle
Although I don’t remember my mother actually ever calling me into the kitchen so she could teach me how to cook, I do recall many time where I found myself stirring a pot, turning the meat, or measuring ingredients for whatever she was making for dinner. Most of the time I didn’t mind. I could usually walk away whenever I got bored or had something else to d and I knew she would be okay with it.
But when it came to making egg noodles, Mom somehow got the idea in her mind that I needed to learn, and learning to make egg noodles right meant I needed a lot of patience. Much more patience than I ever possessed it seems.
You see, the first secret to making good egg noodles is in how slowly you stir the flour into the eggs. Slow is perhaps too ineffective a word here, and stir might be somewhat debatable. The way my mother added flour to the egg could best be described as a single flake of flour at a time. I kid you not.
Mother started by putting the two cups of flour into a medium bowl then she would put one whole egg into the center of the flour. She never used a fork at this stage–no, instead she would sit on the stool next to the stove (her favorite perch from which to cook) and slowly rotate the bowl, encouraging the egg yolk to make a little track in the flour as it rolled around the bowl. Once the egg became covered in flour dust, the second yolk went in an started the same routine. All the while, egg one continued to let the flour slowly absorb. Yolks number two and three joined the flour race and the eggs went round and round and round for what seemed like an hour before she ever touched them with a fork.
By that time, most of the loose flour was gone from the bowl anyway, so she would use the fork tines to encourage the final path to hit those spots where the flour still remained, added the salt and water, and finished the mixing.
But that wasn’t the end of the patience game. Next came the rolling. I will admit, this was my favorite part. We would dust the counter top with flour, place the egg noodle dough onto the flour, and start to roll the mixture out paper-thin–no cheating here! That meant rolling first one direction, then the other. Turning the dough over and rolling again. Turning it again, re-dusting the surface with flour, over and over and over and over until you could hold up the now huge pastry and see the light through its surface.
And now, we have more waiting. Overnight waiting! The dough had to dry, completely. (Shouldn’t we have been worried about keeping uncooked eggs outside over night?) Maybe as much as twenty-four hours dry before we could touch it again.
Once we reached that milestone and Mother declared the noodles were ready, out came the knife. Slice, slice, slice until the huge pastry has been diminished to long strips, the chopped in halves or quarters to the desired size to fit the dish intended.
We usually had homemade noodles which were cooked in the broth of a pork roast, but the noodles could also be used with roast beef or chicken and noodles.
No matter that their final destination, those egg noodles sure were good. I’ve never tasted any from a package that came anywhere near the egg noddles my mother taught me to make, with a lot of patience.
Homemade Egg Noodles
3 egg yolks
1 whole egg
3 T cold water
1 tsp salt
2 c. flour