Chicken a la King

Out take on the classic Chicken a la King
Our take on the classic Chicken a la King

     Chicken a la King is a classic dish that dates back to the turn of the century. I’m not going to bore you with details on claims that it was invented by so and so in 1880’s at such and such a place, or this other guy in the 1890’s at this other joint. Like many popular dishes there seems to be some confusion on who created it, but know this…high society type folks were eating it at Claridges in London and Delmonico’s in New York.

     What was once a luxury dish (which often included ingredients like truffles and sherry or madeira), soon morphed into a disaster that some of us have less than fond memories. Things like cream of chicken soup and other canned items soon found their way into the dish which could now be found on cafeteria steam tables and pot lucks around the country.

     To see such a fine dish fall so far…for shame! For shame! But once was lost does not have to stay that way. Oh no! It can be salvaged once again. Am I being too dramatic? Anyway, here is our take on this once fine dish. It doesn’t have truffles, but we think it’s still pretty darn tasty.

You don't have to use canned soup to make our version!!
You don’t have to use canned soup to make our version!!

Ingredients

  • 4 cups diced chicken
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • about 6 Tbsp flour
  • 2  4.5 oz jars of mushrooms with juice
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1 4 oz jar of diced pimentos drained
  • 1 cup frozen peas (or peas and carrots if you so prefer)
  • salt and WHITE pepper to taste
  • serve over puff pastry shells, toast, biscuits, rice or pasta

Directions

  1. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium low heat. Sautee onion until soft. Add garlic and cook for another minute or two.
  2. Turn heat to medium high and slowly stir in 6 Tbsp of flour while stirring constantly. Allow to become “bubbly” and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add mushrooms with their juice and chicken broth and bring to a boil. Cook for 5 minutes or until thick.
  4. Reduce heat to medium low and slowly stir in half and half while whisking constantly.
  5. Add chicken and pimentos and allow to barely come up to a simmer. Add salt and white pepper and adjust to taste.
  6. Cook until chicken has warmed through and sauce has thickened, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.
  7. Add frozen peas and continue cooking until they are warmed through.
  8. Serve over puff pastry shells, toast, biscuits, rice or noodles.
Did you think the first two pictures were how I was going to eat it? No way! Not nearly enough a la King for me.
Did you think the first two pictures were how I was going to eat it? No way! Not nearly enough a la King for me.

     I really can’t remember what my Mother’s Chicken a la King tasted like. I remember having it on toast. I decided to step it up and used puff pastry shells. So much better and if you are wondering, you can find them in the frozen food section of your grocery store.  Our version was creamy and packed a lot of flavor in it. Sure we could have used fresh mushrooms, but I wanted the liquid from the jarred ones and incorporate it in the sauce. And yes, most recipes do call for green peppers, but you know how I feel about those. I find the peas give it just the same visual aesthetics and I actually enjoy them.

     This is a quick dish taking less than 30 minutes to get on the table. It’s a great use for using leftover chicken or even turkey (would be a great way to use those Thanksgiving leftovers). I will admit in shame that the chicken we used was not cooked on the grill, I’ll do that next time. No, this was a no muss no fuss rotisserie chicken picked up from the store (hang my head in shame). Sometimes you just have to take shortcuts and honestly it worked out just as well. So if you are looking for something to do with those leftovers or you just need a quick weeknight comfort food fix, try out this version of chicken a la king.

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