Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Recipe: Crowning Leftovers – Chicken à la King

Once a king, always a king, but one a knight’s enough. – Anonymous

This was good. Forget everything you may think about Chicken à la King.
Have you ever wondered what to do with leftover chicken (or turkey)? Here’s something quite elegant that people will never suspect is made from “leftovers.”

The recipe will serve four, but if you wish simply halve all the ingredients for an intimate dinner for two. Round off the meal with a lovely salad topped with, perhaps, a blueberry vinaigrette made with 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar (see yesterday’s post) and a nice, crisp white wine.

History, from Wikipedia:
Several competing accounts about [Chicken à la King’s] origin have circulated. One claims it was created by Delmonico's chef Charles Ranhofer as Chicken à la Keene in the 1880s, named after Foxhall Parker Keene. Another version claims it was created in 1881 at the Claridge Hotel in London and named for James R. Keene, father of Foxhall. Another account claims chef George Greenwald of the Brighton Beach Hotel in Brighton Beach created it in 1890s, naming it after patron E. Clarke King and his wife.

Crimini mushrooms. Photo: Cookthinker, Flickr ccl
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 [with the recipe] after he died on March 4, 1915.

It was mentioned in the New York Times in 1893. Fannie Merritt Farmer included a recipe in her 1911 publication on catering. The Fannie Farmer Cookbook includes a recipe for Chicken à la King in the 1996 update. It became a popular dish during the middle to late 20th century.

To accompany the meal I made a green salad with black plums and blueberry vinaigrette. As I usually do, I tried the dish without and with a drizzle of truffle oil. Oh the trials I go through...

I have to say the truffle oil is almost a "must" for this dish. If you have never used it, you can purchase small bottles at the grocery store or even places like Winners/HomeSense. It's a bit expensive, but you only need a few drops. It's very powerful, delicious stuff.

This recipe is an amazing way to deal with the age-old leftover chicken/turkey problem. You can use roasted, barbecued or even cook some specially for this dish. I was able to get enough meat from half a leftover grocery rotisserie chicken to feed two with ease, with—you guessed it—leftovers! Try this recipe. You won't be disappointed.


Chicken à la King
Prep: 10 min  |  Cook: 20 min  |  Yield:  4 servings 
The culprit – leftover chicken. Photo: Route 79, Flickr ccl
6 tbsp butter
1 small onion, diced
1/2 lb white or crimini mushrooms, sliced
1 medium green pepper, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 chicken bouillon cube, crumbled
2-1/4 cups whole milk
1/4 cup sherry
1 lb pre-cooked chicken, cut into cubes
1/4 cup roasted red pepper, chopped
1 tsp hot Hungarian paprika
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper

8 pre-made round puff pastry shells, 4 fresh croissants or sliced, toasted crusty bread
option: truffle oil, if you have it in your cupboard

Melt the butter in a large saucepan or skillet.

Add the onions and mushrooms and cook until they begin to brown. Add the green pepper and continue to cook until it begins to soften.

Sprinkle the cornstarch on top of the vegetables and mix well.

Slowly add the milk to the dish stirring constantly, then stir in the sherry. Add the crumbled chicken bouillon cube and cook until the mixture thickens. Then add the chicken, paprika, salt, pepper and red pepper to the pot.

Let the mixture heat through and serve warm on the pastry shells or atop split croissants.

Serve with a side salad with vinaigrette. If you wish, finish plating the chicken with a drizzle of truffle oil for a deep, delicious earthy flavour!

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