Crowd pleasers: Chicken à la king

By Abigail Donnelly, 26 March 2015

Chicken à la king is one of those great ‘throw-back’ recipes. When food editor Abigail Donnelly thinks of this dish, she remembers her best friend’s mom making it for them when she went to visit.

There's something about a simple plate of chicken and rice in a creamy sauce that soothes the most stressed of souls and though people will probably rather be making chicken risotto nowadays, an à la king still is so much simpler when it comes to making weekday food.

Chicken à la king was for decades considered the epitome of haute comfort food and a favourite at hotel lunches. Despite its French-sounding name, the dish was apparently created in the US in the early 1900s in honour of one E. Clark King II, the owner of the Brighton Beach Hotel where fashionable Manhattanites went to get away from it all (correct me if I'm wrong!)

I actually have two versions of this comforting dish – a posh one and a not-so-posh one, though the former is my favourite. Both these recipes will serve 4 – and no more!


  1. Melt 2 T of butter in a pan and cook 200g chopped mushrooms (any type will do) with 1 chopped red pepper until soft.
  2. Add 4 cooked chicken breasts. I prefer to poach the chicken breasts just a little, but not until cooked through. This way they stay juicy and soft.
  3. In another pan melt ¼ cup butter and stir in ¼ cup of flour. Cook until the mixture pulls away from the side of the pan, just like when you make a white sauce.
  4. Now add 2 cups of chicken stock. Simmer until thickened then add the chicken mixture and season. Stir in 1 cup of cream, sprinkle over some paprika (optional) and voila, you're done.

TIP: If you don't want to make the white sauce, simply add a packet of mushroom soup to the chicken mixture and add some milk until the à la king has thickened. You can also add peas instead of mushrooms, if you like.

Serve it with nutty brown rice or, as I often do, with boiled potatoes tossed in butter and chopped parsley and seasoned with white pepper and salt.


  1. Roast a chicken in an oven-proof bag. This keeps it soft. I have tried using a ready-cooked rotisserie chicken but the legs get a bit dry and then you don't have enough meat.
  2. Break the chicken into large pieces – don't shred it – and remove all the skin and bones. Keep them aside to make a great stock.
  3. Cook 4 chopped leeks in some butter and olive oil then add 4 chopped garlic cloves and 200g torn mushrooms. Tearing mushrooms is a lot easier and it gives them more character.
  4. Now add 1½ cups of cream and ½ cup white wine. Simmer until slightly reduced. Add the chicken, allow it to warm through and season.
  5. Finally, add some chopped parsley and serve with rice.
Abigail Donnelly

Article by Abigail Donnelly

Nothing excites Woolworths TASTE's Food Director quite as much as the challenge of dreaming up recipes with innovative new foods – or the thrill of creating deliciousness on a plate with the humblest of ingredients. With Abi by your side, you’ll be a cooking expert in no time at all.
View all articles
Load more