Helen's Hotdish

Memories from my childhood recall this being served by my mother on very, special occasions.  I have searched and searched for this recipe for over a decade, my mother claiming she gave it to me eons ago.  All I could do until now is lament about this wonderful hotdish which was quickly devoured by our family with no leftovers to be found.  It makes a large batch, it fit into a large roasting pan of mine.  The recipe came via my mother's friend Helen, who was also a co-worker at the factory.  I can only imagine how many recipes swapped hands between those ladies - I certainly have a recipe box full of them.  This has inspired me to take them out and begin sharing with all of you the meals on which I was raised.

This dish is mixed together one day, then baked off the next.  Pull this out an hour before you are going to bake it to take the chill off, which will allow the dish to cook faster and more evenly.  The onions and celery in the recipe are listed as optional since I have a teenager that will not eat them,  I would recommend sauteeing the onions with the mushrooms to soften them, but put the celery in raw which adds a nice crunch to the dish.  Enjoy...

2-2.5# boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 lb. wide, egg noodles
2 - 26 oz. cans Cream of Mushroom Soup
4 c. milk
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. fresh, cracked pepper
1 tsp. salt
2 c. shredded cheese
1/4 c. olive oil
1 lb. sliced, fresh mushrooms
8 hard-boiled eggs, sliced
1 onion, diced (optional)
4 celery stalks, sliced (optional)
2 c. bread crumbs
1/2 c. butter
1 tsp. salt

Slice the chicken breasts in half, lengthwise and poach  in salted water for 5 minutes.  Place breasts into the workbowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment and turn on medium low to shred chicken to desired consistency.  Set aside.

In a 4 qt. saucepan over medium heat add olive oil and when oil is shimmering add mushrooms and onions (if desired), cooking until mushrooms have released most of their liquid.  This will take around ten minutes.  Set aside.

In a large bowl (I use a 19" plastic punch bowl from Party City), whisk together the Cream of Mushroom  soup, milk, garlic powder, pepper and salt until mixture is combined and not very lumpy.  Add chicken, cheese, mushrooms and pasta.  Also add the OPTIONAL onions and celery, if desired.  Stir together and pour into a large roasting pan that has been prepped with spray to prevent sticking.  Lay sliced, hard-boiled eggs over the top - cover with plastic wrap and place into the refrigerator overnight to set.

Remove from the refrigerator to take the chill off an hour before you bake it.  Melt butter and add to bread crumbs and salt.  Sprinkle over top of dish.  Place in a 375 degree oven and bake on the middle rack for 1.5 hours.  Remove from oven and allow to set for 15 minutes.  Serve.

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