This quick, easy standby is a kid pleaser, for sure, made on the stove top in minutes, using ingredients you’re likely to have on hand. Served over Pop Overs, this old farm house standby seems fresh and current.
Look for chicken breast when it hits about 99 cent a pound at your store, buy extra and freeze and you’ll always have sales priced chicken to use for recipes like this. Because the chicken needs to be cooked ahead time, this is also a great go to when you have that one breast left over from dinner the night before, or even a few vegetables in your fridge.
This particular recipe doesn’t use half and half or cream which makes it a plus for me (much healthier, cheaper and I don’t normally have either half and half or cream in my fridge.) The egg, instead, enrichens this dish.
I’m serving mine with Pop Overs (recipe below) an easy version made in muffin tins. If you have Pop Over pans, feel free to use them. Biscuits, too, are a wonderful option.
The key to this dish is to make sure your vegetables look AND taste good, part of the reason I slice the carrots and celery on the diagonal. Overcooked, mushy vegetables are unappealing to almost everyone. If you have small children who are less likely to eat the larger vegetables, by all means, chop them. I try to judge how many vegetables I’m using to give each person 2 servings.
Chicken a la King – 4 to 6 servings, Cost $2.31.
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium onion, diced finely
- 4 medium carrots, sliced on the diagonal, about 1/4″ thick
- 2 stalks celery, sliced on the diagonal, about 1/4″ thick
- 1/4 teaspoon marjoram
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 2 cups milk
- 2 egg yolks
- 1/4 cup of white wine or 2 tablespoons sherry
- 1 cup chicken, cooked and shredded or diced (about 5 – 7 ounces)
- 2/3 cup frozen peas
- Salt and pepper to taste
In a medium saucepan, melt butter with olive oil, add in onion, carrots and celery. Saute until onion is translucent and carrot and celery is nearly tender but not all the way cooked through. Add in marjoram. Add in flour and cook, stirring for about a minute. Slowly add milk, bring up to a simmer, stirring constantly, until thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon. Stir the yolks with a fork and constantly whisking add them to the sauce. Stir in the wine and chicken and heat through. Turn off the heat, add in the peas and stir, cover for a moment to warm the peas through.
Serve over your choice: Popovers, biscuits, toast, rice, noodles, mashed potatoes, etc. I chose to serve my Chicken a la King over PopOvers.
PopOvers – makes 12 small (adapted From Ina Garten, Food Network), cost about 71 cents.
- 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus softened butter for greasing pans
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups milk, at room temperature
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. – I like to preheat for at least 20 minutes, if possible.
Generously grease muffin tins with softened butter. (Make sure they are well coated, and I even like to run a bit right around the top of the pan around each muffin cup.) Place the pans in the oven for exactly 2 minutes to preheat. Meanwhile, whisk together the flour, salt, eggs, milk, and melted butter until smooth. Pour into a container with a spout; it just fits in a 2 cup Pyrex measuring cup. The batter will be thin.
Working quickly, fill the muffin pans 3/4 full and bake for about 30 minutes. Do not peek. (Watch closely as oven times can vary wildly – they should be golden, not deep brown.) When you remove them from the oven, quickly pierce each one with the point of a sharp knife to let out excess steam.
You should have a slightly crispy, tender, browned exterior and a moist, beautiful interior.
Money and Time Saving Strategies for Chicken a la King:
For pricing, remember to use your coupon matching sites for your local stores. My favorite is Pocket Your Dollars in my area, but every store has a group of enthusiastic couponers who can point you to the best bargains. Don’t be discouraged if your prices are higher at first – just keep shopping the best sales and follow the strategies and you’ll get there! Check under Saving on Basic Ingredients for more detailed information and storage hints – use <control f> to search each page to bring you to the item you want to check out.
- Butter – buy on sale and keep in your freezer, you’ll find the best sales right before most of the big holidays. Last bought $2.00 a pound, a tablespoon is about 6 cents.
- Olive oil – Buy on sale with a coupon; generally the smaller bottles are cheaper this way. I look for about 8 cents and ounce. Cost about 4 cents.
- Onion: In the winter, I generally stock up at about 33 cents a pound and keep them in a cool, dark place away from my potatoes. A medium onion weighs about 5 ounces, so a medium one is about 16 cents.
- Carrots: On sale last week for 78 cents a pound, 4 medium carrots are about 6 ounces and cost about 28 cents.
- Celery: On sale for 98 cents, 2 stalks are about 20 cents.
- Flour: Look for prices on sale for #1.49 to $1.69 for 5 pounds, and stock up. Again, another item commonly on sale around the winter holidays and Easter. Put it in the freezer for four days or the fridge for 30 to make sure it will be at it’s best. Cost 3 cents.
- Milk: On sale this week $2.19 a gallon, 2 cups cost about 27 cents.
- Eggs: Another item often on sale around the Holidays, this week we had them on special 18 for $1.49. Since eggs keep so well, there’s no reason not to stock up on them within reason. (If in doubt about an egg, place it in water – if it floats, don’t use.) I’ll save the whites for breakfast tomorrow – 2 eggs are 17 cents.
- Wine or Sherry: I last bought a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc for $2.99 on sale. Watch for wine sales; they make a huge difference in pricing. I figure about 3 1/2 cups of wine per bottle. If you don’t have any wine or sherry on hand, you can leave it out altogether, although you may need to go a bit heavier on the spicing. A squirt of lemon can add a freshness at the end. This quarter cup cost about 21 cents.
- Chicken: I last bought mine at 99 cents a pound. I’m figuring 7 ounces, about the size of a breast. I often make this dish after having chicken for dinner a few days earlier – I just cook a little extra, shred or chop it and put it aside for later in the week. This is a great candidate for leftover turkey. Cost 78 cents. At 99 cents a pound, the cost would be 43 cents.
- Peas: Frozen peas are one of my favorite vegetables to buy frozen, and I always have them on hand in the freezer. I paid 43 cents for a pound, (with a coupon) about five servings of 2/3 cup. Cost about 9 cents.
Money and Time Saving Strategies for PopOvers:
- Note: I chose to use muffin tins for smaller popovers; not everyone has popover pans, and these cook quickly and are just a bit more frugal. I do have a popover pan, but it only holds six, so would require multiple batches. I look for these types of specialty items when I stop in a thrift shop or Goodwill.
- Butter – buy on sale and keep in your freezer, you’ll find the best sales right before most of the big holidays. Last bought $2.00 a pound, a tablespoon and a half is about 9 cents.
- Milk: On sale this week $2.19 a gallon, 1 1/2 cups cost about 21 cents.
- Eggs: Another item often on sale around the Holidays, this week we had them on special 18 for $1.49. Since eggs keep so well, there’s no reason not to stock up on them within reason. (If in doubt about an egg, place it in water – if it floats, don’t use.) I’ll save the whites for breakfast tomorrow – 3 eggs are 31 cents.
- Flour: Look for prices on sale for #1.49 to $1.69 for 5 pounds, and stock up. Again, another item commonly on sale around the winter holidays and Easter. Put it in the freezer for four days or the fridge for 30 to make sure it will be at it’s best. Cost 16 cents.
- Leftover popovers can be reheated in the microwave – place on a plate and dampen a napkin, paper towel or clean cloth. Wring out well and microwave for about 30 seconds. Remove the damp covering immediately. This works well with just about any pastry or baked good.
Put Your own Spin on It:
For the Chicken a la King, you can certainly vary the vegetables and use anything your family likes. The marjoram can be replaced with thyme, tarragon or oregano. Garlic can be sautéed with the vegetables. You can certainly go with 1/2 chicken stock and 1/2 cream or 1/2 and 1/2 instead of milk and omit the eggs for a very rich sauce. Cheese can be added to the sauce – Parmesan is good, or sprinkled over the top.
This is a dirt cheap, quick and nutritious dish done in a lighter, fresher way. To make it even better, it uses ingredients I often have on hand making it a pantry dish.
Updated Chicken a la King with Pop Overs made February 2012