• Magdalena Westman

Art of cooking (Chicken a la King)

The Internet nowadays provides an instant deluge of recipes for the preparation of every imaginable foodstuff & Chicken a la King has enjoyed popularity for more than a century in many forms & yet its origin has never been nailed down. Most likely it was the creation of Chef George Greenwald, at the Brighten Beach Hotel, New York in either 1898 or 'the early 1900s. He prepared a special chicken dish one evening for the proprietors, Mr. & Mrs. E. Clark King II. Mr. King loved it and wanted it on the menu & it quickly became a great success. A contending claim is that it was created by Delmonico's Chef Charles Ranhofer as Chicken a la Keene named after Foxhall Parker Keene (an American thoroughbred race horse owner and breeder & a world and Olympic gold medallist in polo) or at Claridges Hotel in London named after James R. Keene Foxhall's father. Whatever, it is American not French as the name would suggest.

According to New York Times food critic Craig Claiborne the original recipe ran something like this

6 tablespoons butter, softened and divided

1/2 a green pepper, chopped

1 cup thinly sliced mushroom

2 tablespoons flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups cream

3 cups diced cooked chicken

3 egg yolks1 teaspoon onion juice

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon paprika

sherry for drizzling

chopped pimento for topping

toasted bread for serving

Quite rich & rather a long way from current recipes. Served on toast? Will work sure but I believe served over rice must be a step up, or is it just that I am a rice lover?

My recipe

60g butter

1 capsicum (bell pepper)

1 small onion

200g mushroom

2T (30g) flour (hladká)

2T mushroom soup powder

1 chick stock cube

400ml milk

300g - 500g cooked chicken

handfull frozen peas


15 ml chopped parsley to serve

Fry pepper & onion in butter till soft

Add mushroom & gently fry with the pepper & onion in same pan

Sift in flour & mushroom pwdr & cook couple of mins

Add stock cube & gradually add milk bringing to the boil

Cook low heat till thick & smooth (10 mins)

Add chicken, peas, s+p, chili if using & stir thru

Serve on rice.

I do not normally add any pimento (mild chili) but it seems that pimento is a standard ingredient in the basic recipe. The original recipe above also includes capsicum & paprika. I believe my recipe evolved by consolidating the pimento, capsicum & paprika into a single ingredient of capsicum.

Bon Appetit


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