We’re reaching back in the vintage files for another golden oldie recipe today – Chicken a la King. Just in case you’ve never had Chicken a la King before, it’s another one of those delicious old recipes that people just don’t seem to make very much these days. It contains bite-size pieces of moist chicken in a creamy mushroom and pimiento sauce. It’s one of those lick-your-plate clean recipes. For real.
I feel quite sure that Chicken à la King has its roots somewhere in French cuisine. Maybe it’s the cream sauce. Maybe it’s the mushrooms. But even so, I always think of it as being decidedly Southern. It was a dinner party staple when I was growing up and also made frequent appearances on our Sunday dinner menu. My recipe below gives you instructions for making it all at once. However, you can also cook your chicken in advance and then proceed with the deboning when you’re ready to make the recipe. Also, if you don’t mind using a pressure cooker, you can speed the process up significantly by cooking your chicken that way. Your choice!
Start by cooking a whole chicken in water with some lovely aromatic seasonings. Celery, carrot, whole allspice, peppercorns and an onion stuck with whole cloves make a delicious stock! I always leave the peel on my onion when making chicken stock. It gives a pretty golden color to the finished stock. You’ll have quite a bit of stock, but you only need one cup for this recipe. Take that out and freeze the rest – it will make a wonderful chicken soup later!
Once your chicken is done and has cooled, remove all the meat and discard the skin and bones. Cut the meat into bite-size pieces. Set that aside for now.
Melt two tablespoons of the butter in a large pan. Add the flour and stir together with a wire whisk until well blended. Add the cup of chicken stock and whisk rapidly until smooth and well blended. Cook for about five minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in the half-and-half and simmer for an additional ten minutes. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed. Add the lemon juice.
Beat the egg yolks in a small bowl. To the yolks, add 1/2 cup of the hot sauce mixture and stir rapidly. Scrape the yolk and sauce mixture back into the pan and bring barely to the simmer while stirring. Remove the pan from the heat.
Heat the remaining tablespoon of butter in a small skillet and add the sliced mushrooms. Cook stirring contantly until wilted and golden brown. Add the pimientos and Tabasco and continue cooking just long enough to heat the pimientos through.
Add the cubed chicken and mushroom mixture to the cream sauce. Stir together.
I’ve heard of people serving Chicken à la King over thin pasta, but the traditional service is over toast points. Or, if you’re serving it for a luncheon, puff pastry shells are nice. (Note: to make toast points – preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Remove crust from 4-5 slices of bread. Cut across the bread to create triangles. Spray each side of the bread with cooking spray and place on a baking sheet. Bake until toasted and slightly crispy. May be made ahead of time.)
- 1 whole chicken (under 4 pounds if possible)
- 6 cups water
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 small onion stuck with 2 whole cloves
- 2 whole allspice
- 1 carrot, peeled and cut in large pieces
- 3 ribs celery cut in large pieces
- 1 ½ tsp. salt
- 8 peppercorns
- 3 tblsp. butter
- 2 tblsp. flour
- 1 cup half-and-half
- ½ tsp. ground black pepper
- 1 tsp. lemon juice
- 2 egg yolks, beaten
- 1 ½ cups sliced mushrooms
- ½ cup diced pimiento, drained
- 6-7 dashes Tabasco
- 8-10 toast points
- Place the chicken, water, bay leaf, onion, allspice, carrot, celery, salt and peppercorns in a large pot.
- Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer, partly covered, for about 30 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. Let the chicken cool in the broth.
- Strain the broth, reserving one cup of broth for this recipe and freeze or store the remainder for another use.
- Remove all the meat from chicken and discard the skin and bones. Cut the chicken into bite-size pieces. Set aside.
- Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet. Add the flour, stirring with a whisk.
- When blended, add the cup of reserved broth. Stir rapidly until the sauce is blended and smooth.
- Cook about five minutes, stirring frequently.
- Stir in the half-and-half and simmer for an additional 10 minutes. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed. Add the lemon juice.
- Beat the two egg yolks in a small bowl.
- Add ½ cup of the hot sauce mixture to the egg yolks and stir rapidly.
- Scrape the mixture back into the sauce and bring barely to the simmer while stirring. Remove pan from the heat.
- Heat the remaining tablespoon of butter in a small skillet and add the mushrooms.
- Cook, stirring constantly, until the mushrooms are wilted and nicely browned and most of the liquid has evaporated.
- Add the pimientos and Tabasco and stir well. Cook just long enough to heat the pimientos.
- Add the cubed chicken and the mushroom mixture to the sauce.Serve over toast points.
For the toast points:
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
- Remove crust from 4-5 slices of bread.
- Cut across the bread to create triangles.
- Spray each side of the bread with cooking spray and place on a baking sheet.
- Bake until toasted and slightly crispy.
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Other recipes for Chicken à la King that you might enjoy:
- Chicken à la King from Back to the Cutting Board
- Chicken à la King in Toast Cups from Culinary in the Country
- Food Network’s Chicken à la King
- Chicken à la King on About.com – Southern Food
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