Thursday, November 20, 2008

Nov 20: Chicken a la King

I was trying to decide what to do with the leftover roasted chicken when I struck upon Chicken a la King. Chicken a la King is one of those American dishes that has fallen out of popularity... along with jello molds, Swiss steak and Mai Tai.

My first taste of Chicken a la King was probably 25 or 30 years ago at my (mom's) uncle's diner.
His diner was located in an industrial area of town beneath a high rise freeway, next to a brewery. His customers consisted of blue collar workers and well as suits.

He would occasionally call my mom to help out during seasonal rushes. I tagged along to help, if that's what it was called back in the day. I mainly remember taking potatoes and running them through a french fry maker and busing tables.

Another memory is my dad driving us to the diner for the breakfast rush and watching the sunrise from the backseat of the car. However, I think my parents wanted me out of the house since they were worried that my favorite activities were to "eat, sleep and watch TV." Little did they know that as an adult... my daily schedule is "work, eat, watch some TV, get little sleep"... and repeat.

To find a recipe, I had to dig through my cookbooks... I found a recipe in "The Complete Everyday Cookbook", Copyright 1971. Hmmm.... 1971. That sounds about right for Chicken a la King. The recipe I made is loosely based upon the recipe in the above mentioned book.

Chicken a la King
The Fixins' - starting at the top, left of the photo.

1 egg yolk, mixed with a few drops of hot sauce (Frank's Red Hot)
1/4 C peas
2 T diced Pimentos
2T Flour
1 1/4 C Chicken Broth
1/2 C Mushrooms, chopped
1 C Cooked Chicken, coarsely chopped (plus 1/2C cooked potatoes, coarsely chopped)
Chicken Fat from the roast
1/3 C Heavy Cream

Using the chicken fat (about 1 or 2 T) saute the mushrooms until soft.
Add the flour to slightly cook.
Add the broth and mix thoroughly... bring to a gentle simmer.

Add the peas, chicken, potatoes and heavy cream.
Mix and bring to a simmer to heat the ingredients and allow the sauce to thicken.
Stir and add the pimentos

After 5 minutes of simmering, slowly add the egg yolk and stir to thicken the sauce.

The books suggest serving over waffles. Waffles!?!? I don't remember that.
Instead, I served the mixture over noodles.

The taste was akin to a chicken pot pie filling. The sauce was silky smooth... which was a pleasant surprise. The dish was good, but wasn't what I remembered as Chicken a la King. I seem to recall a stronger "cooked" bell pepper flavor... from the pimentos? However, that memory is about 30 years old.

*** Update Nov 21 ****
This is the recipe from the cookbook.
"The Complete Everyday Cookbook" by Ottenheimer Publishers, Inc. 1971.

Chicken a la King
1/4 C butter or margarine
1 C sliced mushrooms
1/4 C flour
1 C Chicken Stock
1 1/2 C half and half milk
1/2 C diced pimento
3 C diced cooked chicken
2 egg yolks, slightly beaten
Salt and Pepper to taste

Heat butter in a blazer pan of chafing dish over direct heat.
Add mushrooms and cook until tender, about 5 minutes.
Stir in flour.
Add stock and half and half milk.
Place blazer pan over hot water.
Cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened and smooth.
Add pimiento and chicken.
Heat thoroughly.
Stir a little of the hot sauce into the egg yolks.
Add slowly to remaining sauce and stir, until smooth and hot.
Server over crispy waffles.
Makes 6 servings.

Note: For my recipe I added peas... and I misread the instructions about the egg yolk. I thought the recipe called for some hot sauce (as in pepper sauce) mixed into the egg yolks. I guess they orginally meant hot sauce as in the gravy to temper the yolks. :-)

Other dishes that have fallen out of favor...
Chipped beef on toast (SOS)
Poached eggs (Adam and Eve on a raft [toast])


Anonymous said...

Does this bring back memories. I think the last time I had Chicken a la King was from a can. I don't even want to think about how long ago that was. This, actually looks great. Except for the peas. Hate peas. But, love the rest. Good enough to give it a try.

Oh, and by the way, I have to take issue with the Mai Tai. I still love them. On a hot summer's day. Yum..

Anonymous said...

Yes John it seems exactly like the filling you put into chicken pies. Also this is a very old fav from the 70's in Australia. Waffles seem astounding to me wouldn't that be too sweet. Nice photos.

Eat4Fun said...

Lynn and Audax... Thanks for the comments!


The peas were my addition to the original recipe! :-) I, also, posted the original recipe as a reference.

Mai Tai's are yummy! It's just not as popular as in the good ol' days of the Tiki bars and Polynesian themed restaurants.

This will definitely make a nice pie filling. I think the waffle is used as a bread/starch (without the syrup).

Anonymous said...

Spanakopita is Greek for spinach and cheese pie. Yes this is a close approximation, recipe from a Greek friend.