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Good morning and Happy Sunday everyone!
Here we are right in the middle of a lovely mid Winter three day weekend.
A truly beautiful thing is happening this week, by this time next Sunday EVERY MLB team will have every player in camp for Spring Training.
Except possibly Harper and Machado. I got no idea what the fuck is up with the free agency shit this year. It just means we’ll see a strike soon.
Fuck yes baseball!
This is the reason that’s it’s good to be a multi-sport fan, you don’t have to wait 5 goddamn months for NFL training camps to open and you can jump right into baseball. Fuck knows we need a distraction to wash away the stench of that last godawful NFL game we just had. Christ that shit was just fucking awful. Plus college hoops are starting to warm up and if you participate in March Madness this is a perfect time to start getting your research on.
Out here in L.A. it has been a very wet winter, which is good as far as the state is concerned. It doesn’t mean we won’t have a fire season it just means that it will be delayed. Awesome.
As we drudge through the remaining vestiges of Winter the best types of meal to serve are the kind that cook in the oven for a few hours or the kind that are dense, filling, hearty and unhealthy as fuck-all.
Let’s do one of those today!
Today’s inspiration obviously came as a result of last week’s post where I paid tribute to the inspiration provided by our own King Hippo. That post was titled Chicken Ala King (Hippo) and that in turn inspired me when I realized “Holy shit! I haven’t posted a recipe for actual Chicken Ala King!”
Let’s fix that shit.
As with many old school dishes there is some dispute to the origins of chicken ala king. Why the fuck would anyone do that? It’s not like it will burnish your fucking legacy or anything to say YOU were the creator of it.
For fuck’s sake man! It’s just basically a chicken pot pie without a crust!
Goddammit, anyway the dish remains very delicious, very simple to make and pretty goddamn versatile.
It’s chicken in a cream sauce with some vegetables in it. Having a dispute over who created it is like having a dispute over who invented the goddamn ashtray. What’s the fucking point?
Sorry, food origin wars annoy the shit out of me. Somebody invented it and I am glad they did.
I’m going to take credit and say that I invented this version of it because I fucking invented it on my goddamn stove so end of story.
Let’s get after this fucker.
Chicken Ala King!
2 pounds of boneless skinless chicken breasts – cubed
1 shallot – minced
2 cloves of garlic – minced
(1) 8 oz package of fresh mushrooms
1 small jar of pimentos
That little jar says it’s 4 ounces so let’s call it 4 oz.
1/2 cup of frozen green peas
1/3 cup of flour
1 cup of chicken stock – yes you can use store bought
1 cup of heavy cream
1/2 stick of butter
1 teaspoon of dried thyme
1 tablespoon of salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tablespoon of essence* optional you could also use a mix of onion powder and garlic powder.
Cooked noodles, rice, mashed potatoes or biscuits to serve this over, your choice.
Get yourself out a slab or two of chicken breasts.
If you’ve been paying attention over the last couple of years you will notice that I use almost exclusively organic chicken. I ain’t about to get too crazy about the humane treatment of a motherfucking chicken but there really is a huge difference in flavor. This chicken has no added water and it finishes with a more moist, and well, chickeny taste. It’s NOT cheap. This shit is 7 bucks a pound of not cheap but it’s absolutely worth the price. That regular Foster Farms stuff is bland as hell.
Get out your cutting board. Have I talked about the use of a plastic cutting board for cutting up meats? Well if I haven’t you should. The wooden boards are for everything else but use plastic for meat. Especially chicken.
Practice your badass chicken cubing skills.
Now would be a good time to season the chicken up. This is where you can use your choice of spices/herbs. You can add whatever profile you want to the chicken and it will become one of the major flavor profiles of the dish. I like the “essence” because it brings a little bite from the cayenne and a lot of savory elements. I know when my Mom used to make this dish it was strictly salt and pepper but haven’t we evolved beyond that generic shit?
I say we have.
Season it up well.
Take out your favorite skillet, I prefer a non-stick variety here, and add about a tablespoon each of butter and olive oil. Get this going over a medium heat.
Cook the chicken for about 5-6 minutes per side or just until the pink has cooked out. This will finish cooking in the sauce so you don’t need to fully cook it here.
Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside in a bowl.
Grab that little jar of pimentos – by the way pimentos are their own veggie but you could substitute with roasted red pepper if you wanted – and we want to drain them first.
That’s a lot of water from a tiny-ass jar.
Give the pimentos a nice chop.
Shit, while we’re at it let’s chop up our shallot and garlic. Ever work with shallots? They’re a little milder than a basic onion and they have a nice tendency to incorporate themselves into the finished dish.
Here’s one now.
We want the shallot and the garlic to be minced pretty fine.
Keep that skillet going on the stove and add in the half stick of butter over a low/medium low heat.
First we add the shallots and the mushrooms.
You want to cook these for about 7-10 minutes to cook out some of the excess water from the mushrooms.
There we go. Now add in the garlic just until the garlic gets aromatic as fuck.
If you’re a regular reader you know how much I fucking love this combination of the garlic, mushrooms, onion/shallot. You can add this to damn near ANYTHING to elevate the dish all to hell and gone. I’ve used it for everything from dishes like this one to an ingredient in enchiladas.
For that recipe, instead of sauteing in oil or butter I cooked the mushrooms/onion/garlic with BACON!
SO fucking good.
When the garlic smell is driving you insane we are going to add the flour directly to the pot.
Cook together until the flour blends in with everything to create almost a paste. This will essentially be our roux for the dish. Cook for a few minutes to cook out the flour taste then we are going to add in the heavy cream. Cook for a few minutes until it starts to thicken up. The key to this dish is the proper sauce viscosity. Take your time and cook the sauce until it thickens to your preferred thickness.
Next, well fuck it, let’s get everybody else into the pool. That’s the salt, pepper, thyme, chicken stock, peas and pimentos.
Once again there is no set cooking time here. Cook until it looks good to you. Mine probably cooked for 15-20 minutes and since I always try to be as brutally honest as possible, I wish I had cooked it until it was slightly thicker. Still delicious but could have had a tighter sauce.
My original plan was to cook some wide egg noodles and serve the chicken ala king over them so I cooked some goddamn noodles.
And believe me this was a very tasty delivery method, no shit. But while the noodles were cooking Brother DJ Taj said “Look in the freezer.”
Well looky there!
Now you all KNOW that if my original intent had been to serve this dish over biscuits I would have made some motherfucking homemade buttermilk biscuits.
But then again there were biscuits right there and I’m gonna use the bastards.
Cook the biscuits according to the directions on the package.
I’ve never used frozen biscuits before. I will be honest and say I’ve used those little roll up tubes of biscuits before but I’ll tell you what? These things were pretty goddamn good.
In fact I used the biscuits for the main photo rather than the noodles.
When it came right down to it, the biscuits kicked the crap out of the noodles for chicken ala king delivery method.
Serve this shit over biscuits.
Oh yeah, the wine pairing. That is another pinot grigio – that may become a trend with the wine pairings because I love that shit – this wine was from Ruffino and is clean, fruity, crisp and delicious.
Overall the chicken ala king is a delicious, easy to prepare meal that could easily be made on a weeknight. It fits Winter very well and is hearty, rich, succulent and savory. The creamy sauce is addicting if not exactly healthy but it’s Winter and we need sustenance goddammit.
The best part about this dish, it is extremely adaptable. You can add in different veggies, different herbs, spices, you can even change the protein. You know what would work really well here? Leftover turkey. Shit howdy would that work.
My mom used to even make a version with a can of tuna as the protein and it was pretty fucking tasty too.
I’m happy to bring you yet another in a long line of old ass American casserole type meals. Don’t worry I’ve got plenty more. I was raised during the great American casserole era after all.
Thanks for reading good folks. I appreciate your being there.
Music I listened to while composing this piece.