RECIPE #157, DAY #184
ORIGINAL RECIPE: What’s Cooking, a publication of SS. Peter and Paul Orthodox Church, which I got who-knows-where*
TIMING: 30 minutes, at most
DIFFICULTY: Easy enough
TOOLS: Just a large, deep skillet and a toaster or toaster oven
COOK TYPE: Stovetop and toaster or toaster oven
HEALTH: With a little butter and some cream or half-and-half, this meal is healthy family dinner fare with lean protein, veggies, and some whole-grain bread.
EXPERIENCE: I was on a my-childhood food roll with BLTs, so I thought back to those formative days on the next night, when I was holding chicken breast meat in my hands (in the wrapper–don’t be afraid). Now, we had a very reliable rotation of recipes when I was growing up, and on that rotation was BLTs, and also was Chicken a la King.
If you don’t know what Chicken a la King is, certainly you did not grow up in Michigan in the 80s. It’s a ridiculous name–I will readily admit–but you can’t exactly change it now. What if someone is looking for the recipe? At any rate, it’s a sort of Midwestern spin on a French-like chicken and veggies in a mushroom-cream sauce and is served over the quickest grain you can put on a dinner table: toast. With condensed cream of mushroom soup and the ever-popular chicken breast, this meal was served up on dinner tables all over the country for years and years of domestic accomplishment.
I have to admit that there is nothing quite like it, as far as experience and texture. With the crunch on the toast softening as it sits, it really makes for a nice mouthfeel. Plus, you just want to cuddle up on the couch, let it steam in your face, and decompress from your life.
It always goes over well, but it’s not guest food. Also, this is not my best recipe for it, but it is the one I found first the other night.
NOTES: I have stuck with recipes that do not use the condensed can of cream of whatever soup. It’s really not that much more complicated, and it avoids all the extra salt and preservatives and tinny taste and whatnot.
The original recipe here did not have peas, but my mum always included peas, so I just couldn’t keep my hand out of the freezer. You can omit them. You can also use a red bell pepper instead of the green, but it’s not traditional. Red bell peppers were not part of the culinary landscape in 1980s suburbia.
- Toast 12-16 pieces of sliced whole wheat bread.
- Meanwhile, in a large, deep skillet, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Add 1-2 minced shallots and 1 diced green bell pepper and cook until shallot is translucent.
- Push veggies to the rim of the pan, increase heat to medium-high, and add 1 pound diced chicken breast. Cook until browned and cooked through.
- Add 1 cup sliced button mushrooms and 6 tablespoons all purpose flour and cook 1-2 minutes.
- Whisk in 1 1/2 cups chicken broth, 1 1/2 cups cream (or half-and-half), and 2 tablespoons sherry or white wine. Bring to a simmer, whisking, then reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes until mushrooms are tender and sauce is thick. Add 1/2 cup frozen peas and stir until they are hot.
- Taste for salt and pepper and serve over a stack of toast with a garnish of parsley.
Serve with a large glass of white wine.
*Recipe changed from the original.