After cooking up a bunch of boneless and skinless chicken thighs the other day, I decided to turn some of them into chicken a al king. I don’t know what made me think of this dish from the past — white sauce with chicken and vegetables stirred into it. For one thing, I’ve never really cared much for it. It brings back bad memories of creamed chipped beef and canned peas that my mom used to make when I was a child. She’d serve it over toast. The peas were mushy, the toast was soggy and the chipped beef was — well — chipped beef. I did not like it. Not one bit.
So, why would chicken a la king even drift through my mind? I used to make it every once in a while, but that was years ago. When I mentioned chicken a la king to my husband the other day, he said it had been so long since he’d even heard of it that he’d forgotten all about the creamy gravy-like dish.
I dug out my old recipe and gave it another try. I have to say that on a cool autumn evening, the dish was very satisfying. And quite tasty. I made toast cups to serve with the a la king. I didn’t have one, (remember, I don’t care for soggy toast) but my husband was raving about what a great match the crunchy toast cups and the hot, creamy chicken a la king were.
This chicken creation could easily be served over waffles, biscuits, rice or egg noodles. I’d like it over mashed potatoes.
The cooked marinated chicken thighs I had chopped up were full of delicious flavor that kicked up this chicken a la king. I rarely use canned soups when I’m cooking, but this recipe from years ago called for a can of cream of chicken soup. It adds a creamy richness to the white sauce. I happened to have a jar of Peppadew peppers in the refrigerator, so I chopped some up and stirred them into the sauce. They have a unique mild, yet sweet and spicy flavor and add a nice burst of color to the dish. Chopped pimentoes would also work well. Most recipes for chicken a la king include mushrooms in the ingredient list. I leave them out.
Chicken A La King. It’s a blast from the past. But, when you’ve got some cooked chicken on hand, it takes no time to prepare. It’s budget-friendly. It’s just the kind of dish we are looking for right now.
Chicken A La King
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 1/2 cup chopped celery
- 1/2 cup chopped carrot
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 1 (10 3/4-ounce) cream of chicken soup
- 2 to 4 cups cut up cooked chicken (I use Now and Again Chicken Thighs, which you’ll find in my column this week)
- 1/2 cup chopped Peppadew Peppers
- 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf Italian parsley
Put chopped onion, celery, carrot, bay leaf and garlic in a saucepan. Add broth. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover pot, and simmer until vegetables are tender. Set aside.
Melt butter over medium heat in a Dutch-oven. Add flour and whisk until smooth. Cook and stir for a few minutes. Remove from heat. Add milk. Stir constantly until mixture comes to a boil. Add cooked vegetables and their liquid (remove bay leaf first). Stir to mix. Stir in cream of chicken soup, blending well. Add chicken, peppadew peppers and parsley. Mix well and heat thoroughly. Serve piping hot in toast cups.
Heat oven to 400 degrees. For each toast cup, flatten a slice of sandwich bread with a rolling pin. Use a sharp knive to make 1-inch lengthwise cuts into each corner of bread slice. Brush both sides of bread slice lightly with melted butter. Gently press each flattened bread slice into cups of ungreased muffin pan, overlapping crust to form cups. Bake in preheated 400-degree oven for 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned.