Chicken à la King

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Yield:



Appears in

Craig Claiborne's Southern Cooking

Craig Claiborne's Southern Cooking

By Craig Claiborne

Published 1987

  • About

To my mind, it would be inconceivable to print a Southern cookbook without a recipe for chicken à la king. When I was a child, it was standard party fare, and in my earliest youth, conceivably the most delectable of all main courses. It was served in my home for special occasions, when my mother entertained, for Sunday dinners, for birthday parties, and so on. The French version of this dish is called poulet à la reine, and it underwent a sort of sea change between here and France. I do not know why it seems so typically Southern.


  • 1 chicken (about 3 pounds)
  • 5 cups water or chicken broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 small onion stuck with 2 cloves
  • 2 allspice
  • 1 carrot, trimmed, scraped, and cut into large cubes
  • 3 ribs celery, cut into large cubes
  • Salt to taste, if desired
  • 8 peppercorns
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 egg yolks, beaten
  • ¾ cup thinly sliced mushrooms
  • ½ cup thinly sliced canned pimientos
  • teaspoon Tabasco sauce
  • 1 tablespoon dry sherry, optional
  • 6 toast triangles


  • Put the chicken in a kettle and add the water or broth, bay leaf, onion, allspice, carrot, celery, salt, and peppercorns. Bring to the boil, partly cover, and simmer about 30 minutes, or until the chicken is tender. Let cool in the broth.
  • Remove the chicken and strain the broth. Reserve both. Discard the solids from the broth.
  • Remove the flesh from the chicken. Discard the skin and bones. Cut the chicken into ½-inch cubes. Set aside.
  • Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a saucepan and add the flour, stirring with a wire whisk. When blended, add 1 cup of the reserved broth. The remaining broth may be put to other uses such as for soups and sauces. Stir rapidly with the whisk until the sauce is blended and smooth. Cook about 5 minutes, stirring. Add the cream and simmer about 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add the lemon juice.
  • Spoon ½ cup of the hot sauce over the egg yolks, stirring rapidly. Scrape this mixture back into the sauce and bring barely to the simmer, stirring. Remove from the heat.
  • Heat the remaining tablespoon of butter in a skillet and add the mushrooms. Cook, stirring, until the slices are wilted and they have given up their liquid. Cook until this liquid evaporates. Add the pimientos and Tabasco and stir. Cook just to heat through.
  • Add the cubed chicken and the mushroom-and-pimiento mixture to the sauce. Stir in the sherry, if desired.
  • Serve piping hot over toast triangles.