Morbid Meals – Chicken à la King

MM04For the Emperor tarot card, I chose one of my very favorite recipes that is fit for king and peasant alike: Chicken à la King.

EXAMINATION

I used to call Chicken à la King the “Triple Threat” because whenever I made it, I used three canned foods: cream of mushroom soup, diced chicken, and a vegetable medley. It is a cheap meal you can quickly throw together from your pantry. These days, I prefer to make it from scratch.

When it comes down to it, Chicken à la King is simply cubed chicken served in a rich cream sauce with mushrooms, red and green peppers, served over pasta, rice, biscuits, or even toast. It is a great way to use up leftover chicken.

My recipe below provides for a versatile mushroom sauce made from scratch, but feel free to completely swap it out for your favorite Cream of Mushroom soup. If you don’t like mushrooms, use Cream of Chicken soup instead.

ANALYSIS

Serves: 4

Ingredients

1 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper, or pimiento
1 can (10.5 oz) Cream of Mushroom Soup (or sauce below)
1/4 cup milk (only if using condensed soup)
4 cups cooked chicken, cubed

For the cream sauce (instead of soup)

1/2 cup chicken stock (or broth)
2 Tbsp sherry (optional)
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp flour or cornstarch
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup canned mushrooms, drained

Apparatus

  • large saucepan
  • small bowl
  • whisk

Procedure

Making the sauce from scratch (if not using canned soup)
  1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine the chicken stock (or broth), sherry, and Worcestershire sauce.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the butter and flour/cornstarch together into a paste.
  3. Remove the saucepan from the heat and whisk the butter mixture into the hot stock until dissolved.
  4. Add the cream and mushrooms. Return the saucepan to heat raised to high and stir constantly until the sauce thickens as desired. Remove from heat.
Putting it together
  1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt your butter and sauté the chopped peppers until tender.
  2. Pour in the sauce (or soup and milk) and add the chicken. Stir well and cook until the chicken is warmed up, about 5 to 7 minutes.
  3. Serve over your favorite bed of starches.

DISSECTION

When I make this from scratch, I don’t usually bother cooking chicken. That’s a lot more work. Instead, I buy one of those rotisserie chickens from the market, remove the skin, and cube all of the meat from it. That gets anywhere from 3 to 4 cups of chicken. The recipe calls for 4 so that each serving has a hearty full cup of chicken, but don’t fret if your bird gives a little less.

Use popcorn chicken and add cubed ham and a sprinkling of Swiss cheese to make a Cordon Bleu version.

Another fun thing to do is bake it in a pie crust or flaky pastry and you essentially have a decadent Chicken Pot Pie.

POST-MORTEM

Chicken à la King is one of my favorite comfort foods, but one that I tend to avoid because dairy and I don’t get along very well. If you have the same problem, feel free to substitute the cream for your favorite milk substitute. That’s the great thing about making the sauce from scratch.

Don’t feel bad if you still like making the ol’ Triple Threat, but I hope you’ll make it from scratch at least once to appreciate the more regal version.

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