Monday, July 25, 2011

A Royal Recipe - Making Chicken ala King

This is one of those recipes that just make you feel good when you eat it - quintessential comfort food. It is a great way to use leftover chicken (or turkey - remember this recipe after Thanksgiving!) and it's relatively easy to make. It's hard to imagine, but this humble dish was sort of fancy and high falutin when it was created over 100 years ago. It's exact origins have been debated, but many think it was created by a chef in a Philadelphia hotel that had the last name of "King." When the chef died, he was given credit for creating the dish in his obituary. Regardless of where it came from, it has stood the test of time as a favorite American dish, and one that I endlessly enjoyed growing up.

Like any popular dish, there are many variations on Chicken ala King. Some include the use of a little sherry, others call for green pepper. While my version is very traditional, using fresh mushrooms (you could use canned, but I think the texture and flavor of fresh mushrooms really stand out in this dish) onions and pimentos, you could make some changes to include other vegetables. You can serve your Chicken ala King over toast, biscuits, rice or noodles. Whichever you choose, this buttery, creamy dish will find a place in your regular rotation!

Chicken ala King

6 TBSP butter
2 TBSP olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
8oz fresh mushrooms, cleaned and quartered
salt and pepper (to taste)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup chicken broth
1 1/2 cup milk
1 chicken bouillon cube
1 2oz jar of pimentos, drained
3-4 cups cooked chicken, cubed (can also use turkey)

In a pot, heat butter and olive oil. Add onion, mushrooms, salt and pepper and saute until tender (about 8 minutes). Mushrooms will reduce in size and onions will start to become soft and translucent. Lower heat. Add flour and whisk in making sure that all the flour is absorbed into the butter/oil mixture and continue to stir for a minute or so. You want the flour to cook out the "raw" taste and become well incorporated into the fat. Add chicken broth and milk (both should be at room tempurature) and bouillon, increase burner to medium high. Continue to wisk sauce. As it begins to heat you will see it thicken up. When it reaches the boiling point, reduce heat to low (sauce should have thickened by this point) and add your pimentos and chicken. Stir together and keep on low heat until ready to serve, stirring occasionally. Put on top of toasted bread, biscuits, rice or noodles. Enjoy!

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