Saturday, April 20, 2013

Weekend Cooking...Chicken Fit for a King

Last week I shared this new-to-me velveting technique for cooking chicken. I had cooked several big chicken breasts and I had a fair bit left over.
So what to make with that lovely tender chicken?
Well, it popped into my mind, a favorite dinner from my youth and something I have not made in forever, Chicken a la King.
A creamy, rich white sauce with peppers and mushrooms and some tender chicken, perfect over rice or some warm, split biscuits.... Yum.

So, where did this dish come from and how did it get that royal name?
Time to head over to Wikipedia!!

"The most likely account is that Chicken à la King was created in the 1890s by hotel cook William "Bill" King of the Bellevue Hotel in Philadelphia. Several obituaries in early March 1915 credited King after he died on March 4, 1915. A New York Tribune editorial at the time of King's death stated:
'The name of William King is not listed among the great ones of the earth. No monuments will ever be erected to his memory, for he was only a cook. Yet what a cook! In him blazed the fire of genius which, at the white heat of inspiration, drove him one day, in the old Bellevue, in Philadelphia, to combine bits of chicken, mushrooms, truffles, red and green peppers and cream in that delight-some mixture which ever after has been known as "Chicken a la King.'"

Chicken a la King 

  • 3/4 cup heavy cream 
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice 
  • Salt 
  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil 
  • 1 onion, chopped fine 
  • 1 cup sliced baby bella mushrooms 
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped fine 
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper 
  • Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon minced flat-leaf parsley
  • 3 tablespoons flour 
  • 1/4 cup sherry wine 
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth   


Whisk 1/2 cup cream, lemon juice, and 1 teaspoon salt in a bowl. 
Add chicken, cover, and refrigerate 30 minutes. 

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Cook onion until golden, about 3 minutes. Add mushrooms, bell peppers, 1/4 teaspoon salt, nutmeg,  and pepper and cook until vegetables have softened, about 5 minutes. 

Stir in flour and cook 1 minute. Add sherry, scraping up browned bits with wooden spoon, and cook until thickened, about 1 minute. Add broth and remaining cream and cook until sauce is very thick and spatula leaves trail when dragged through sauce, about 5 minutes. Stir in chicken mixture and reduce heat to medium-low. Add in parsley.
Simmer, stirring frequently, until chicken is no longer pink, about 10 minutes. 

OK, this recipe is based on America's Test Kitchen's recipe and  you know how highly I think of them. They do that little soaking thing with the chichen, a sort or brine, something ATK always recommends with chichen and pork, to keep it moist and tender when cooked.
But, of course, I had my left over 'velveted' chicken, so I skipped that. I would be interested to try it in the future though.

And a few other changes. As usual.
I had no cream, so I just used milk. I am sure cream would have been very rich, very nice, just what a King needs, but I am only a Princess, so milk was fine.
Then there are the peppers. I had some roasted red peppers in the fridge, so in they went. I added the parsley and the nutmeg. Ever cream sauce benefits from some FRESHLY grated nutmeg in my humble opinion.

And finally, the wine.
The original ATK recipe  called for Marsala, but my mom always used sherry, Harveys Bristol Cream Sherry in fact. For me, that distinct sherry taste is required in Chicken a la King.

And a wee glass of Harveys makes a lovely pre-dinner aperitif.

This is my contribution this to this week's Weekend Cooking.
"Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend."
Be sure to check out the other entries this week. As always, hosted by Beth Fish Reads.


  1. Sipping the cooking booze is a requirement -- it's what guarantees success. :)

    1. Or at least you will think it is successful!

  2. This is one of my favorite dishes. Thanks for sharing your recipe. Happy Weekend to you, Caite!

  3. I don't think I've ever had Chicken a la King and I wonder why. It sounds good!

  4. I've never had chicken a la King either, but this reminds me of my chicken stew that I make with leftover chicken.
    Will have to try it this way next time.

  5. I haven't made Chicken a la King in a long time; your recipe sounds delicious.

  6. I've never had Chicken a la King but it sounds yummy.

    1. wow, I am amazed there are people who have never had this dish..

  7. I think I had poorly made Chicken a la King one too many times when I was younger and have avoided it ever since. This definitely sounds delicious!

  8. I've never made this before but it looks far better than what I think we were served as children. I have half of a cooked farm fresh chicken in my refrigerator and maybe this is what I should make!

  9. Replies
    1. I think many dishes I love, things I grew up on, would be considered 'retro' these days.
      in fact, maybe I am retro!

  10. Chicken a la King was everywhere until the 1970s and then it seemed to fall out of fashion. It was de rigeur for ladies' luncheons. But then ladies' luncheons have also fallen out of fashion, so maybe there's a connection. ;-)

    I must try this recipe soon and bring back some memories. Thanks for the reminder!

    1. I am not sure about ladies' luncheons, but I think we need to bring back Chicken a la King!

  11. I've never thought about where the name for this dish came from. I always assumed it had been cooked for royalty.

  12. great alternative recipe for chicken - always on the lookout for those!

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  14. I haven't had Chicken a la King for ages! America's Test Kitchen recipes are always so good - will have to give this one a try.


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