Simple Chicken à la King Recipe

Chicken à la KingOh, the joys of being away from home! It means that I am removed from my RSS feed, so I don’t have constant access to what is going on. Also, and more important, it means I have to cook a lot. This seems to be the main reason that people have me over: so I can cook for them. It isn’t that I’m a great cook. It is just that I am a cook. And in our modern world, that’s a big thing. People are so dependent upon prepared or mostly prepared food that having something cooked from scratch is a treat — even if it isn’t done by Julia Child or Graham Kerr.

Last night was special because I was going to teach my sister a very easy way to make Chicken à la King. By the end, I realized that I was just going to have to write it down for her because there were too many distractions. But given that I don’t actually have a recipe for it, I figured now would be a good time to get it down on paper (or computer screens anyway). Just the same, be prepared for a little hedging because I’m not totally certain what I do.

Ingredients

½ lb of chicken breast
¼ cup butter
½ lb mushrooms, sliced
½ cup celery, diced
¼ cup flour
1 tsp salt
1 cup milk
1 cup chicken broth

Optional: carrots, peas; see below.

Instructions

  1. Cook the chicken. I boil it, myself. In fact, if you cut up the chicken, you may end up with an acceptable cup of chicken broth for the rest of the recipe. Regardless, boil for about 15 minutes. If you are dealing with a really large breast, you definitely need to cut it into fourths (at least).
  2. Sauté the vegetables. Cook the mushrooms and celery in the butter for about 15 minutes. I usually add a diced carrot as well. That’s non-standard, but I like it. Frozen peas work too, but don’t add them until the last five minutes, or they will end up as mush.
  3. Make the roux. This is what makes the recipe so easy, because this is definitely a lazy person’s way of making a roux — or a “guy’s” way. You sprinkle the flour and salt over the vegetables and mix. Then, you add the milk and chicken broth. I normally combine them together so that I’m adding them at the same time. You will end up with a soupy concoction. Increase the heat until it starts to bubble, and then turn it down. Make sure you keep stirring it.
  4. Add the chicken. While the creamy vegetables are reducing, cool your chicken to the point where you can work with it. Then cut it into small chunks. I do about ¼ inch chunks, but it’s up to you. Most people seem to like larger chunks like ½ inch or even more. I like Chicken à la King smooth — even to the point of turning it into strings with a fork.
  5. Add the pimientos. I use a 4 oz jar — reasonably drained. Mix it all together and you are done!

Traditionally, Chicken à la King is served over rice. For this, I recommend, as always, Basmati rice. It is so delicious and the texture is wonderful — not mushy. But you can use whatever you want. In fact, last night we didn’t even do rice. I’m very fond of doing Chicken à la King with biscuits. This time, we used the Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuit Mix. They were good. But I the Pillsbury Refrigerated Biscuit Dough is easier to work with.

This is a really easy recipe that produces an excellent result. Sometimes, I think I should start a cooking blog. It isn’t that I’m particularly good at cooking. But as with my approach to grammar, I’m good at reducing this stuff to the simplest way to get decent results. But I hope that at least this recipe will appeal to people who want good food without have to work very hard at it.

Afterword

I found this great little video that goes through the difference between coarsely chopped, chopped, diced, and minced. I tend to think the categories should be a little smaller than she presents, but it is about right.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

5 thoughts on “Simple Chicken à la King Recipe

  1. I bought stuff to make manicotti, in between work and picking up Olivia from school. Mostly because Monica bought a giant box of spinach at Costco and I’m running through uses for it. Enchiladas are on the list. But I got out of work late, and I have a headache, and I’ve never made that before, so I had to come up with a new plan. I was grateful to find some leftover chicken of recent vintage and after a spirited debate with myself over what to do, while the chicken was steaming a bit to get it off the bone, I settled on a taco chip casserole. I should have seasoned it more, probably. It smells good cooking away. Totally unplanned, so lot’s of ingredient swaps to an old recipe because that’s what I have to work with. Served with steamed harc… those tiny green beans, and guacamole. Beans and avocados also from Costco. Manicotti on Saturday, when I have time to try something new.

  2. Stirring the flour into the vegetable-cooking butter IS the best way. I can’t believe I ever added the liquid first, then the flour to it, it’s such a pain in the butt.

    Here’s a thing. Instead of adding all the liquid at once after the flour, add it half-a-cup at a time. When it bubbles, and the next half-cup, and so on.

    I don’t know if this produces a thickened white sauce any faster. But is FEELS faster, and makes the time spent stirring before your sauce thickens less boring. Of course one could always just watch a video on one’s phone while stirring, that might be just as effective.

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