Chicken A La King Revisited

A classic chicken dish, Chicken à la King is tender chunks of chicken, onions, bell pepper, garlic, mushrooms and pimento immersed in a white sauce flavored with sherry. Often served over rice, toast points, pasta, mashed potatoes, chow mein noodles, biscuits or pastry shells, it is versatile in its presentation. When served over pastry shells, Chicken à la King makes an elegant appearance!

A Little Background

As a Home Economics major in college I was required to take a course in Food Preparation. I first encountered Chicken à la King in this class. One of our class objectives was to learn to prepare a white sauce which is the basis for many soups and sauces.

To learn to prepare white sauce, we made Chicken à la King! It was a popular main dish in that time period; in fact, you could buy Chicken à la King in frozen pouches at the grocery store. The frozen pouch was immersed in boiling water for a prescribed time and then served over rice.


The exact origin of Chicken à la King is unknown but it seems to have appeared in the 1880’s. In Fannie Farmer’s updated version of the Boston Cooking School Cookbook in 1896 there was a recipe for Chicken à la King. The recipe may have been developed to use leftover chicken.

Recipe for Chicken à la King

Chicken a la King
Serves 4
Tender chunks of chicken with mushrooms, pimento, onion, bell pepper & garlic in a white sauce with sherry.
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Ingredients
  1. 2 chicken breasts, cooked & chopped
  2. 1 tablespoon butter (or olive oil)
  3. 1/2 cup bell pepper, chopped
  4. 3/4 cup onion, chopped
  5. 1 clove garlic, chopped
  6. 1 4-oz. can sliced mushrooms -OR- 5 oz. fresh mushrooms, sliced
  7. 2 ounces diced pimentos
  8. 6 tablespoons butter
  9. 6 tablespoons flour
  10. 1 teaspoon salt
  11. 1 12-oz. can evaporated milk (1 1/2 cups)
  12. 1 cup of chicken broth or stock
  13. Fresh parsley, chopped fine for garnish (optional)
Instructions
  1. Place 1 tablespoon butter or olive oil in a skillet. Add onions, bell pepper, mushrooms and garlic and saute until tender. Add chopped pimento.
  2. In saucepan, melt butter (6 tablespoons); add flour and cook for a few minutes. Add salt.
  3. Add milk and chicken broth and stir until thickened. Add the sherry to the sauce.
  4. Add the sauce to the chicken-vegetable mixture and stir until well-blended.
  5. Serve over rice, biscuits, pasta, pastry shells, chow mein noodles, mashed potatoes or toast.
  6. Optional: Garnish with fresh chopped parsley.
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 White sauce is the foundation for so many recipes.

White sauce is the foundation for so many recipes – from cream soups to macaroni and cheese. White sauces are classified according to the thickness of the finished product: thin, medium or thick. I created this chart for easy reference.

I’ve known folks that are afraid of making a white sauce or gravy! It’s really not difficult. Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat. Whisk in the flour and keep it moving for a few minutes, which allows the taste of “flour” or starch to dissipate. Add the salt and milk.  

The next step is where problems are encountered – the mixture must be stirred constantly in this part of the process! Keep stirring and soon the mixture will thicken. You may need to increase the heat to medium, but if the mixture gets too hot it will burn on the bottom of the pan. Patience is necessary in making white sauce!

In conclusion, retro recipe Chicken à la King is definitely worth a second look! I cooked some brown rice to go with the leftovers and it was really good! Try some Chicken à la King for a trip to the past and a delicious “comfort” food meal! (Don’t leave out the sherry – the flavor it imparts is wonderful!) Don’t be afraid to tackle the white sauce either!

Remember to Savor the Flavor!

Janet

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Mouthwatering Mexican Lasagna

Mexican Lasagna is an appealing casserole dish containing ground beef or ground turkey cooked with onions, garlic, diced tomatoes and tomato sauce. In place of lasagna noodles, Mexican Lasagna features corn tortillas. The Italian seasonings commonly found in Italian lasagna are replaced in this recipe with Taco Seasoning. (For how to make your own Taco Seasoning, click here.)

Diced mild green chilies add even more Mexican flavor to this dish which also contains ricotta cheese and eggs. After preparing Enchiladas Suizas for my previous post I had plenty of corn tortillas left to make another dish. I immediately thought of Mexican Lasagna – a recipe from Lawry’s California Center.

In addition to being delicious, Mexican Lasagna is simple and quick to prepare!

Methodology

The first step in preparing Mexican Lasagna takes the most time, apart from baking the recipe. The ground beef or ground turkey must first be browned with the onions and garlic. After draining any fat off of the meat, add taco seasoning, diced tomatoes and tomato sauce. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes.

While the meat sauce is simmering, the second step is to mix together the ricotta cheese with the eggs and mild green chilies. Thirdly, place six corn tortillas on the bottom of a greased 13″ x 9″ baking dish. Spread half of the ricotta cheese mixture over the tortillas and sprinkle with half of the Monterey Jack cheese. Add half of the meat sauce on top of the cheese layer.

Add the remaining six corn tortillas, the rest of the ricotta cheese mixture and the remaining meat sauce on top of that. Sprinkle the remaining grated Monterey Jack cheese on top of the meat sauce layer. Finally, bake the Mexican Lasagna for 30 minutes or until cheese is lightly browned on top. Let the Mexican Lasagna sit for 10 minutes before cutting into squares.

The Recipe for Mexican Lasagna

Mexican Lasagna
Serves 8
An appealing lasagna made with corn tortillas instead of noodles and spiced with taco seasoning and mild green chilies.
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Cook Time
30 min
Cook Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 1/2 lbs. ground beef or ground turkey
  2. 1 teaspoon seasoned salt -OR- 1 teaspoon Montreal Steak Seasoning
  3. 1 1/4 oz. taco seasoning mix
  4. 1 cup chopped onions
  5. 3 clove garlics, finely chopped
  6. 1 cup diced tomatoes, fresh or canned
  7. 1 15-oz. can tomato sauce
  8. 1 4-oz. can diced green chilies
  9. 8 oz. ricotta cheese
  10. 2 eggs
  11. 12 corn tortillas
  12. 10 oz. shredded Monterey Jack cheese
Instructions
  1. Brown ground beef or ground turkey with onions and garlic in a large skillet. Drain fat.
  2. Add seasoned salt, taco seasoning mix, tomatoes, and tomato sauce. Blend well.
  3. Bring meat mixture to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 10 minutes.
  4. In small bowl, combine ricotta cheese, eggs and green chilies.
  5. In bottom of a greased 13" x 9" baking dish place six corn tortillas.
  6. Spread half of the ricotta cheese mixture over the tortillas and top with half of the grated cheese.
  7. Spread half of the meat mixture over the cheese layer.
  8. Add remaining corn tortillas, remaining ricotta cheese mixture, remaining meat mixture and top with remaining grated cheese.
  9. Bake Mexican Lasagna at 350 degrees F. for 30 minutes or until cheese is lightly browned.
  10. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting into squares.
Notes
  1. A nice alternative to Italian lasagna!
Adapted from Lawry's California Center
Adapted from Lawry's California Center
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You can individualize this recipe to suit your family’s preferences. I used a Cheddar-Jack cheese combination instead of Monterey Jack cheese. In place of the seasoned salt I used Montreal Steak Seasoning. I added onions and garlic to the original recipe, which really improved the flavor. Next time I make Mexican Lasagna I plan to add some chopped bell pepper to the meat mixture as I think that would be tasty!

I believe this recipe for Mexican Lasagna would be a hit with family members of all ages. Since there is ground meat in the recipe those with oral or dental problems should be able to chew this casserole with no difficulty. Serving suggestions would be to add a green salad or vegetable to round out this meal. I served one of my favorites, Janet’s Broccoli Salad with the Mexican Lasagna.

Make some Mexican Lasagna soon! Your family and friends will really enjoy it!

Remember to Savor the Flavor!

Janet

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