Homestlye Chicken Noodle Casserole
12 oz. pkg of wide egg noodles
4 T. unsalted butter
1 onion, chopped fine
2 lg. carrots, peeled and chopped fine
4 T. flour
2 c. half n half
3 c. low-sodium chicken broth
2 t. minced fresh thyme
1 1/2 t. salt
3/4 t. pepper
1 T. lemon juice
1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast
8 oz. (about 2 cups) shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 1/2 c. frozen peas
Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot. Add 1 T. salt and the egg noodles. Cook just shy of al dente, about 4 minutes. Drain the noodles, rinse them under cold water until cool to the touch. Set aside until ready to assemble the casserole.
In a large saute pan, (or you can use a skillet or even a Dutch oven) melt 2 T. butter over medium heat. Add the onion and carrots, cook, stirring frequently until the onion is softened, 5-7 minutes. Add the sauteed veggies to a bowl, set aside. Add the remaining 2 T. butter to the now empty skillet. When the butter is melted add the flour to the pan and cook, stirring constantly for 1 minute. Slowly add the half n half and chicken broth (very important to add a little at a time, whisking thoroughly as you go, to keep the sauce from being lumpy). Bring sauce to a simmer, stirring constantly, stir in the thyme, salt and pepper. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes, stirring often. Add the sauteed vegetables and chicken breast to the sauce, cover the pan and simmer until the chicken is cooked through 10-15 minutes. Remove the sauce from the heat and place the chicken on a plate to cool.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees f. To the sauce add the lemon juice and half the cheese. Stir to melt the cheese and season to taste if needed. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, shred into bite-sized pieces. Combine the shredded chicken, noodles, sauce and frozen peas. Add to a 13x9-inch casserole dish. Top with the remaining cheese. Bake the casserole until the top is slightly browned and the cheese is bubbling, 15-20 minutes. Let cool for about 10 minutes before serving.