Cooking

Soup to Nuts

Prepare to experience the creamiest chicken casserole ever
Photo: Lizzie Munro/Tasting Table
Chicken Casserole

If you're the sort of well-intentioned modern cook who chooses organic and is stocking up on ramps and asparagus at the farmers' market right now, I'm going to have to ask you to overlook a few things in order to make my mom's chicken casserole (see the recipe).

Please turn the other cheek as the boneless, skinless chicken breasts boil (yes, boil) in plain salted water. You're also probably going to want to ignore that telltale squish sound as the shredded chicken and egg noodles are mixed together with not one but two types of "cream of" soups (that would be mushroom and chicken) and, for good measure, a full container of sour cream.

Just before it goes into the oven, you may need to shield your eyes from the decidedly nonartisanal slices of white bread that are crumbled on top and the stick of melted butter that's poured all over the damn thing.

But I have a deep-seated family connection to the dish: Despite the fact that my brother and I grew up Italian American in Jersey, this was probably our No. 1 most requested noodle dish. It was one of my mom's go-to weeknight dinners, what she would bring neighbors if they'd been in the hospital or were mourning a loss, and what we begged her to make constantly.

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It's obvious why. The insanely comforting dish is sort of the love child of chicken salad, mac and cheese, noodle kugel and spaghetti Alfredo: blasphemously white and over-the-top creamy, with just the slightest amount of texture from the browned noodles and buttery, crisp bread crumbs.

You may judge me (and yourself) when you pop open the soup cans and scoop out all that sour cream. But you'll thank me when you go back for seconds.

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