Chicken à la King, the Retro Dish that Deserves a Comeback

The one-pot meal is an American classic.


Chicken à la King: A Comforting Classic

As the daughter of a professional chef and a Dominican immigrant, I didn't grow up eating certain classic American dishes. However, chicken à la king was one of those dishes that I discovered later in life. It has become a regular comfort food for me, especially on cold nights. This creamy and luxurious dish is quick and easy to make, and it pairs perfectly with white rice, egg noodles, biscuits, or warm toast.

Chicken à la king has a rich history and debates about its origin. Some say it was created at New York's Brighton Beach Hotel in the 1890s, while others claim it originated in England or Philadelphia. Regardless of its origin, chicken à la king became popular by the turn of the century and appeared on numerous menus from 1910 to 1960.

This version of chicken à la king is made with cooked chicken, making it a great way to use up leftovers. If you don't have any cooked chicken, you can easily substitute it with a grocery store rotisserie chicken, silken tofu, cooked turkey, or even canned tuna. The dish also includes classic ingredients like mushrooms, celery, peas, pimentos, and a splash of sherry or white wine for added flavor.

How to Make Chicken à la King

To make chicken à la king, start by sautéing diced onions and celery in butter until they are softened. Then, add sliced mushrooms and cook until they are softened and cooked down. Deglaze the skillet with sherry or white wine before sprinkling flour over the skillet to make a roux. Add chicken broth and heavy cream, allowing the mixture to thicken and reduce.

Finally, add the cooked chicken, diced pimentos, and frozen peas to the skillet and cook until the chicken is heated through and the peas are hot. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve the dish with rice, if desired. Chicken à la king can be stored in an airtight container for up to 4 days and reheated on the stove.

Nutrition Facts and Variations

Each serving of chicken à la king contains approximately 488 calories, 35g of fat, 21g of carbs, and 23g of protein. It's important to note that these numbers are estimates and may vary depending on the specific ingredients used and portion sizes.

For those with dietary restrictions or preferences, there are several variations and substitutions you can make. You can use different types of protein like tofu, turkey, or tuna. If you don't have sherry on hand, white wine or Madeira can be used as substitutes. If pimentos are not available, you can use diced roasted red pepper instead. Feel free to adjust the seasonings and ingredients according to your taste.