But all that aside, what I love about Chicken a la King is that it reminds me of being a kid. I can say with confidence that it was one of my absolute favorite dishes growing up, if not the favorite. I don't necessarily remember sitting down to the table to eat it. I can find no clarity on specific instances. But when I think of it, it makes me happy. That warm, creamy gravy studded with chunks of white meat chicken. Thin slices of mushroom and bits of color from bell peppers and herbs. And we always, I repeat ALWAYS served our Chicken a la King over biscuits. Smothered.
Funny thing is, my parents didn't make it from scratch. It came from a can. But man, oh man, did I love it. I didn't pay that can any mind. I mean, our biscuits came from a popable tube, so why would I question the can?
Naturally, I started experimenting. Searching out different recipes for it. Everybody has their own little variations. Some people use red and green bell peppers. I like to use pimientos or roasted red peppers. I like the way they sort of dissolve into the sauce/gravy and give it little red flecks. It reminds me of the one I grew up with. You can very easily use sherry or Madeira or even Marsala, but I usually use brandy. Some people cut their white button mushrooms into thick slices, I like to use a mix of white and crimini and slice them very thinly. And some people serve the whole shebang over noodles or rice. But 90% of the time, I choose biscuits. The other 10, I'll go with toast points.
But no matter what, this is a dish I make when the weather starts to turn chilly (and a couple more times throughout the cold months). And no matter what the day or time, when I smell it cooking and then sit down to eat, though I am grown and have kids of my own, I am instantly transported back to childhood. Pure comfort food. Warm and fuzzy. Uuuuhhhh...Fuzzy feelings, not fuzzy food.
Chicken a la King
Prep Time: ~1 hour (unattended)
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Keywords: simmer entree chicken mushrooms American fall winter
Ingredients (serves 6-8)
- 1½ c. cup heavy cream
- 3 Tbs. lemon juice
- ~2½ lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into ½"-1" chunks
- 2 Tbs. unsalted butter
- 2 small onions, cut into small dice
- ~8 oz. white &/or crimini mushrooms, thinly sliced
- 1 (4 oz.) jar pimientos, drained
- ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- 6 Tbs. all-purpose flour
- ¾ c. brandy
- 3 c. chicken stock or broth
- ¼ c. finely chopped fresh parsley
Place 1 cup of the cream, 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice, and 2 teaspoons salt into a gallon-sized zippered baggie and squish around to mix. Add chicken and seal. Massage to coat and refrigerate for 30 minutes, or up to 2 hours.
Heat butter or oil in large pan over medium-high heat until melted and starting to bubble. Add onion and cook until translucent, ~3 minutes. Add mushrooms and pimientos, ~½ teaspoon salt, and the pepper and cook for another 4 - 5 minutes. Sprinkle in flour and cook for another minute. Add brandy, scraping up any browned bits with wooden spoon, and cook until brandy has basically evaporated and you have a thick, glumpy mass, ~1 minute. Add broth and remaining cream and cook until sauce is thick enough to leave a glimpse of a trail in the bottom of the pan when you run your wooden spoon through it, ~10-12 minutes.
Open the baggie and dump in the chicken mixture; reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer, stirring frequently, until chicken is cooked through, 10 minutes or so. Remove from heat and stir in remaining teaspoon of lemon juice and the chopped parsley. Serve over biscuits or toasted bread.