Creamy Chicken a la King

creamy chicken a la king, vol-au-vent
Philippe Desnerck/Photolibrary/Getty Images
  • Total: 30 mins
  • Prep: 15 mins
  • Cook: 15 mins
  • Yield: 6 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
525 Calories
40g Fat
13g Carbs
28g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6 servings
Amount per serving
Calories 525
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 40g 51%
Saturated Fat 20g 98%
Cholesterol 209mg 70%
Sodium 1010mg 44%
Total Carbohydrate 13g 5%
Dietary Fiber 2g 6%
Protein 28g
Calcium 88mg 7%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Chicken a la king is a dish of chicken, mushrooms, and peppers enveloped in a creamy sauce of butter, cream, and chicken broth. This recipe includes 2 egg yolks for added richness and bit of pimiento for bright color. The warm, comforting mixture is often served on toast or in puff pastry shells (vol-au-vent) or can be spooned over rice.

The origin of this dish is somewhat debated, but there is one scenario that gets the popular vote. In the early 1900s at the Brighton Beach Hotel in New York, the head chef wanted to create a dish to honor the hotel owner, E. Clark King II. Mr. and Mrs. King enjoyed it so much they asked for seconds. So, the following day, chicken a la king appeared on the menu, for $1.25 a serving. The dish gained a reputation as an elegant dish worthy of any upscale hotel restaurant and soon became standard fare at establishments such as The Plaza Hotel. It then grew to find its way onto menus across the country, remaining popular until about the 1960s.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, divided
  • 3/4 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup minced green bell pepper
  • 2 cups cooked and diced chicken
  • 2 ounces chopped and drained pimiento
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • Dash of black pepper
  • 1 cup cream or half-and-half
  • 2 egg yolks, beaten
  • Optional: Toast points, pastry shells, or rice for serving

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Melt the 1 tablespoon butter in a skillet and sauté the mushrooms and green pepper until tender.

  3. Stir in the chicken and pimiento and set aside.

  4. In a saucepan, melt the remaining 1/4 cup butter over low heat. Stir in the flour until smooth and bubbly.

  5. Gradually add the chicken broth and continue cooking and stirring until the sauce is thickened and bubbly.

  6. Add the chicken and sautéed vegetables to the sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

  7. In another saucepan, heat the cream until hot. Then quickly stir the cream into the beaten egg yolks.

  8. Add egg yolk mixture to the chicken mixture and heat thoroughly over low heat, but do not boil.

  9. Serve over toast points, inside pastry shells, or over rice and enjoy!

Tips

If you are really pressed for time, you can use the meat from a rotisserie chicken. But if you have time beforehand, you can poach boneless, skinless chicken breasts to use in this recipe. You can also bake chicken breasts for about 30 minutes at 350 F, or quickly saute in a little oil in a skillet.

Canned mushrooms can be used instead of fresh, but be mindful not to use too many canned products in this recipe; one reason it lost favor over the years is that shortcut versions became the norm, producing a lower quality dish.

Recipe Variations

Although it won't be the classic recipe, you can add peas to this dish, and feel free to eliminate the pimientos if you don't care for them. As an alternative, swap out the chicken for chunks of tuna fish; just be sure to use a good quality tuna.

To lower the calorie count, use milk instead of cream, and eliminate the egg yolks.