Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Simply Elegant Chicken à la King

By Gail Foley

Creamed chicken dishes have been around for hundreds of years. Chicken à la King  can be traced to the 1890’s mostly in the New York/Philadelphia region. The earliest print documentation I found was (14 December 1893). Alumni of Princeton College luncheon. New York Times. It became very popular in the middle of the 20th century especially with women’s clubs, mess halls, and board luncheons all across the United States.

The vegetables should be sparse and fine. The sauce should be thick, rich and creamy. The chicken should be delicate.

Serves 4

¼ cup finely minced onion
1/2 green pepper, finely diced
1 can (10.5 oz.) condensed cream of chicken soup
½ cup mayonnaise
3 oz. Neufchâtel (low-fat cream cheese)
¼ cup milk
1 can (4 oz.)  mushrooms (stems and pieces), drained
1 chicken breast, poached and shredded ½ inch, (no skin or bones)
1/2 teaspoon ground sweet paprika
1 Tbsp. Cream sherry
2 Tbsp. pimiento (canned sweet red pepper), finely diced
Hot toast points, (4 slices quartered)

Season skillet with canola oil spray.
Sauté onion and green pepper.
Stir in soup, mayo and milk. Heat to almost boiling. Stir in Neufchâtel until melted.
Stir in sherry, paprika, chicken and pimento. Heat to almost boiling.
Serve over toast points.

Used minced onion in place of onion juice. Could also grate onion.
Used cream of chicken in place of flour, butter, salt, cream and chicken broth.
Used mayonnaise in place of egg yolks, butter and lemon juice.
Used 1 can of mushrooms in place of thinly sliced fresh mushrooms.
If using fresh mushrooms, sauté with onion and peppers.
Added Neufchâtel to make thicker, richer and creamier.
Can use red bell pepper instead of pimento, but sauté with onion and green pepper.

Recipe for the original CHICKEN A LA KING

SOURCE: The New York Times, 14 April 1980, an article by Craig Claiborne citing a circa-1900 brochure from the Brighton Beach Hotel.

“Melt two tablespoons of butter and add one-half of a green pepper shredded and one cup of mushrooms sliced thin. Stir and cook five minutes and then add two level tablespoonfuls of flour and a half teaspoonful of salt. Cook until frothy and then add one pint of cream and stir until the sauce thickens. Put this all in a double boiler, add three cups of chicken cut into pieces and let stand to get very hot. In the meantime, take a quarter of a cup of butter and beat into the yolks of three eggs, one teaspoonful of onion juice, one tablespoonful of lemon juice and one-half teaspoonful of paprika. Stir this mixture until the eggs thicken a little; add a little sherry and finally shredded pimento before serving on toast.”

Dad's Open-faced Broiled Tomato Sandwich

By Gail Foley

One of my earlier memories of my father is of his tomato garden. He would grow these large Beefsteak tomatoes - most often Big Boys. This is what he made with the first ripe tomatoes.

1 slice Bread
1 slice American Cheese
1 slice of a large fresh Tomato
Malt vinegar
Ground black pepper

Preheat oven broiler.
Lightly coat a small sheet of aluminum foil with canola oil spray.
Assemble sandwich on foil – Lay down bread, then cheese, then tomato.
Put under broiler, a couple of inches from flame. Watch it carefully!
When cheese is browned, remove from broiler to plate.
Sprinkle with malt vinegar and pepper.

It is easier to eat with a fork, but have some fun trying to pick it up and eat it like a sandwich!

I should note that Dad's bread of choice was Wonder Bread. I favor a heartier bread and would recommend Sourdough, Italian or French bread. I have also liked it on various wheat breads.

My Favorite Raisin Bread and Cheddar Sandwich

By Gail Foley

I have enjoyed this sandwich since I was a child. It is probably the first recipe I created. The combination of sweet and salty, sour and bitter is a delight to the taste buds. The combination of crunchy, gooey and creamy textures is also pleasing. It is better at room temperature, when the bread and raisins are soft and the cheese is creamy.

2 slices Raisin Bread (Frosted even better!)
French’s Prepared Yellow Mustard
1 thick slice Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese

Generously cover one side of each slice of bread with mustard.
Lay cheese on one slice of bread and cover with other slice of bread - mustard inside.
Cut diagonally into wedges and enjoy!