Chicken A La King is simple conceptually, but it is one of the most difficult dishes to perfect. My mom taught me how to make this the standard way when I was young and over the decades I’ve developed my own improved method of preparing Chicken A La King, one that has superior flavour and at the same time avoids all your typical A La King problems (see notes). I have yet to taste a better version in any restaurants I’ve tried – something I can’t say about any of my other recipes.
- Chicken Legs with Thigh (2)
- Capsicum a.k.a. Bell Pepper (1)
- Brown Mushrooms (150g)
- Leek (1)
- Milk (1 cup)
- Butter (100g)
- Flour (3T)
- Anchovy in Oil (10g)
- Chicken Stock Cube (1/2)
- Cream Cheese (1T)
- Worcestershire Sauce
- Coriander Seed Powder
- Cooked Rice (4 cups)
- Pour 1 cup of milk in a cup and spoon 1T of cream cheese into a bowl, to let them warm up.
- Fry 2 slivers of anchovy in its oil in a pot until you can mash the anchovy into a fine suspension. Add 3 cups of water and half a chicken cube and bring to a low simmer.
- Cut the leek in two and put the top (green) part into the stock pot. Slice the bottom portion lengthwise into half, then cut into 1/8 inch thick half rings. Cut the mushroom into 1/4 inch thick slices. Cut the capsicum into 1/2 inch squares; making sure you discard all the seeds and white pulp.
- Debone the chicken legs and add the bones to the stock pot. Cut the meat into bite sized chunks – its more important that the pieces of chicken are of the same thickness than of the same volume. Place any excess flaps of skin into the stock pot.
- Mix 1T of oil, 1T Worcestershire sauce, 1t coriander seed powder, 0.5t salt in a large bowl. Put the chicken chunks into the bowl and mix well.
- Stir fry the leek pieces in a large pan with some oil on low heat until they begin to go limp. Turn up the fire and push the leek to one side of the pan.
- Add the chicken when the pan is really hot and stir fry until no visible part of the chicken is raw. Then combine with the leek and continue to stir fry until the chicken is cooked (i.e. shrunk a bit like the first photo). Move the chicken to a temp container.
- Melt 70g (1/3 of a standard block) of butter in the same pan on low heat. Spoon in 3T of flour and stir fry until the flour begins to darken. Very slowly add the cup of milk a bit at a time while stirring continuously with a flat spatula to combine all three ingredients. When all the milk is used up, continue the process by adding the hot chicken stock instead. Finally, stir the cream cheese into the sauce. When you are done you should have a smooth velvety white sauce.
- Add the diced capsicum to the sauce and continue to simmer, until the capsicum is no longer rigid. This will take a while, perhaps 10 minutes, add hot water as needed. Next add the mushrooms and 1T of sherry. When the mushrooms begin to shrink, add the chicken and simmer for 1 more minute. Sprinkle on black pepper and taste the sauce to see if salt is required.
- Serve with steamed white rice, topped with a knob of butter.
- Capsicums comes in 4 different colours which have different tastes. Red is sweet and easiest on the taste buds, Green is an acquired taste as it is less ripe and bitter. Orange and yellow capsicums are in between the two. A mixture of two types would be visually pleasing if you are cooking a double portion.
- If you are using chicken breasts instead of legs, you should brine them first. There will be no need to marinate the brined chicken pieces as they are already salty.
- Chicken A La King is supposed to be served with steamed white rice. If you don’t have rice, the other permissible option for Chicken A La King is puff pastry cups (a.k.a. vol au vent). I am against serving it with bread or pasta as some websites show.
- How is my recipe different from the commonly used ones?
- 1. Cooking the chicken separately under a high heat will remove any freezer taste.
- 2. Using chicken stock enhanced with anchovy brings out the flavour of chicken in the white sauce.
- 3. The extended cooking time for the sauce removes any residual taste of flour and fully infuses the sauce with the taste of the capsicum.