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.”

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