Chicken A La King

How to Make Chicken A La King

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I was writing down a recipe this morning for turkey a la king, and I realized that I actually had all the ingredients necessary and it sounded really good. This is one of those all-time classics that’s just really easy to throw together. Chicken a la king is what most of us know, but turkey works just as well. We’ve got turkey leftover season coming up, so I’m going to show you how to do it. You can start with raw chicken or turkey, either one, and poach it off if you want to. I just use leftovers. It looks like a lot of ingredients, but don’t worry about that, because it’s super-easy. First thing we’re going to do is start with a béchamel. I’ve got 4 tablespoons of butter right here. This is for another application. If you wonder about a béchamel, don’t. There’s a recipe and an explanation of exactly what it is on my website. It’s one of the French mother sauces, and it’s just a cream sauce that you can use for all kinds of stuff.

We’re melting off our butter. Typically to thicken a sauce, you want to use a 1:ratio. Hey, buddy. Come on in, just be real quiet. That’s my boy coming in from outside. 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of flour will thicken 1 cup of liquid. I like it a little more thick than that, so I’m using 6 tablespoons of flour because we’re putting in a good bit of liquid here. Can you see what we’re doing here? Come in here and look. When you’re making a béchamel, and this works for gravy too; you want to make sure that at this initial point .

. . see how smooth that’s getting? My butter’s not quite melted, but that’s okay. If you have no lumps here, you’re not going to have any lumps later. That’s perfect. Over here, I have red onion. I think in my original recipe I call for shallots. I love shallots but I didn’t have any shallots so I’m not going to worry about it. This just goes right in there, on top of everything else. We’re going to let the flavor of this red onion perfume and infuse the sauce that we’re making. Right here, I have 4 cups of homemade chicken stock. If you’ve watched any of my videos, you know I preach homemade broth and homemade stock. The flavor is like nothing else, and look how thick that is. That’s because I did it myself and I double-strengthed it, and I let all those flavors intensify. This is amazing flavor here. Of course, you do it with the things that normally you would throw away. Even better, dirt-cheap. We just whisk everybody together here. Don’t make a mess like I do. My friend LeAnn made a comment not too long ago about using the ‘no pot left behind’ method. That’s definitely how I cook.

What we have here are the butter, the flour, a little red onion or shallots, if that’s what you have; any kind of onion works. ¼ cup of sherry; classic in a cream sauce, wonderful flavor. Feel free to skip if you want to, but there really is something wonderful and indefinable that that little touch of alcohol gives, and most of the alcohol burns off. This is almost ready to just sit back here and simmer away. I have Italian flat-leaf parsley, which goes right in the pot. I also have a little bit of thyme. At this point, this is ready to just sit here and cook down. Wait, no it’s not. ½ cup of heavy cream. Now it’s ready to sit. We’re going to let that simmer down. It’s going to thicken up and get yummy. We’re going on to our next step. The pan is not quite hot enough. That’s okay because we’re going to take a break in a second. Another tablespoon of butter. Originally, I think I called for button, cremini, or shitake mushrooms. What I have are these . . . oh, shoot, what are these called, the great big ones? I had these on sale.

Portabellas were on sale, so this is what I have, and I simply cube them up. You can use any kind of mushroom you like. I do like the darker mushrooms. I think that they have a little bit more flavor, but if button mushrooms are what you have, that works. Not a problem. All we’re doing at this point is we’re going to sauté our mushrooms. Everybody in the pot, or in the pool, whichever you like. We have our cream sauce back here, and that’s going to simmer for about half an hour. We have our mushrooms here, and I’m simply going to sauté these off in the butter until they get nice and fragrant, and leave everybody alone. A little pinch of salt for both. There we go. Leave everybody alone to do their thing for a few minutes. I’ll be back and show you the next step. Come here and look at this. This is beautiful. We’ve had just a bare simmer; I turned it all the way down to low.

Look how lovely and silky that is. We’re about to make it even better because we have over here, all of our mushrooms. See how far down they reduce? See how we’ve evaporated a lot of the moisture out? That’s good because what’s left is caramelized, toasty, yummy mushroom flavor. Awesome. Wait, I got to grab my stuff. You can just pull out the bits of herbs if you want to, but what is a little bit easier . . . I want you to drop this. Sorry the bottom of my pan is to the camera. I apologize. We’re going to run that through a strainer just to get all the herbs and all the chunky stuff out of there, because we want a nice, silky sauce. I want all the flavor we can get, so we’re going to smash it. No dish towel left behind either. What we have over here is our creamy, beautiful béchamel and chicken stock, and a little bit of cream. Then we are going to do a couple of things.

I have just a little tiny touch of cayenne pepper. You got to watch that stuff. It carries a punch, and if you like a punch, which I happen to, fine. Kick it up. I’m feeding children and they’re not crazy about it. Fresh nutmeg is a thing of beauty with cream sauce, but don’t use it if you don’t have the fresh thing. It comes in little .

. . see that? It’s a little nut. You get 7 or 8 of them in a package and they last forever. You just use a microplane grater. You don’t want tons; this stuff is strong. Don’t use the pre-ground stuff that you get. It’s not nice. Use this stuff. That’s all you want. Hey, J.B.? Can you walk around that way and get me a spoon, please? I need to taste my sauce. We’re going to bring it back up to temperature, and at this point, we’re adding this luscious, juicy. . .

We’re going to do a final taste just as soon as I get that cayenne stirred in there. You never serve anything unless you make sure you’ve tasted it, to season everything off. You never know exactly what you’ve got until you’ve got it finished.

You can use fresh chives, too; that’s fabulous. Why don’t you stand right here so everybody can see what we’re doing. Don’t cut your fresh parsley until you’re ready to use it because the knife will actually bruise it and it will wilt; get those little black slimy bits. Cutting the heat. You can use just about anything you want to; biscuits, toast, or crepes, you can use the puff pastry shells. I didn’t have the shells. Turn around, buddy. I didn’t have the shells; all I had were the sheets so I just cut them up into squares. This is all you do.

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Chad Barney
My name is Chad Barney, people call me Chad. I have been cooking in family-owned and operated restaurants since I was 8 years old. I grew up in California, Los Angeles, and have lived in New York City since 2009. I learned original Thai recipes from my mother, aunts and other relative working in our family kitchens. As a personal chef I focus on healthy cooking less oil, less sugar or no sugar at all but use the sweetness for vegetables and natural sweetener such as palm sugar.

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