Chicken a la King

I guess this is one of those basic everyone-has-made-this kind of dishes, but OH. MY. GOD. you just wouldn’t even believe how many years have gone into finding this recipe and then actually being able to make it. This recipe, like the inscrutably named Pineapple Stuff, was one of my absolute favorite dishes my mom made when I was a kid. So much so, that I still remember it fondly despite not eating it in almost 15 years. So last year when I started cooking again, I made it my mission to find this recipe. Except I couldn’t remember what it was called or what the ingredients were other than broccoli and some adorable little puff pastry shells my mom always used. So I looked through every single recipe in my mom’s old recipe collection (which is just a book with hundreds of handwritten recipe cards and magazine cut-outs taped into it in a semi-organized, but still haphazard fashion) several times and finally figured out which one it was.

It was called Tuna a la King and I didn’t remember it having tuna, but everything else fit so that had to be it. But when I went to the grocery store I could not find those damn adorable little puff pastry shells. I searched in grocery stores all over Jacksonville and no one had them. I thought maybe they didn’t even exist anymore? I searched around and found other variations of the recipe, but most had mushrooms and pimentos, and I’m not a fan of either of those things. (Probably why my mom made this recipe in the first place since broccoli was one of the few vegetables I would eat when I was young.) Most didn’t have the pastry, either, they were just served over rice or noodles or nothing at all. I guess I could have done that since I had all the rest of the ingredients of the recipe, but it wouldn’t have been my mom’s recipe without those damn adorable little puff pastry shells. So I put the recipe away thinking maybe it was just not meant to be, though I couldn’t help scanning the frozen food section every time I went to a new grocery store.

Cut to a few months ago when we moved back to Orlando and miracle of miracles, the D.A.L.P.P.S were just sitting there in the freezer hanging with the phyllo dough and frozen rolls. It took all my strength not to start dancing around in the frozen food aisle (ok, there was a little dancing, hopefully no one saw me because it probably looked like some kind of a spasm). They were the exact D.A.L.P.P.S that my mom used. I could never forget that hexagonal shape!

I went home and made the recipe that night and it was good, the D.A.L.P.P.S definitely make it, but it wasn’t quite what I remembered. I made it again a few weeks later and it was closer (I had added more seasoning), but still not the same. It finally occurred to me it was the tuna that was making it taste different. I didn’t remember it having tuna because it hadn’t had tuna, my mom had used chicken instead. I went back to the grocery store and found canned chicken in the same aisle as the tuna and when I made it again it was perfect. It tasted exactly like I remembered and Brandon and I both agreed we liked it better with chicken than tuna (though like I said, the tuna version wasn’t bad, just a little different).

Chicken a la King

So now it’s pretty much all I can do to not make this every single day of the week. It’s crazy easy to make, you don’t have to remember to defrost anything (always a huge problem for me) and takes less than 30 minutes from start to finish. The fact that puff pastries are not the most healthy thing in the world is the only reason I actually do limit this dish to every few weeks. But the chicken part isn’t bad for you at all and it has broccoli so you get your vegetables. Eat this with some fruit and you got all your food groups covered.

I still can’t figure out why the Jacksonville Publix’s didn’t have the D.A.L.P.P.S, but the ones here do, so I hope Jacksonville is just a fluke and they aren’t hard to find. My mom never seemed to have an issue finding them even when we lived in a tiny town on the top of a mountain in Tennessee. In my search for puff pastries, I did find flat puff pastry dough (with the biscuits and cookie dough) that you can cut into any shape you want (I used it for my Chicken Pot Pie Soup recipe), so that’s an option, it just won’t look as cute as the D.A.L.P.P.S.

Chicken a la King

Chicken a la King

from Back to the Cutting Board

Dinner | Servings: 2 to 3
Prep time: 15 min | Cook time: 20 min | Total time: 35 min

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 1/2 tbsp. flour
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1/8 tsp. nutmeg
  • 6 1/2 – 7 oz. canned chicken or tuna, drained
  • 1 cup frozen chopped broccoli (I don’t measure, I just use half a bag of frozen broccoli)
  • 2 tbsp. parsley, chopped
  • 6 frozen, ready to bake, puff pastry shells

Process

  1. Cook broccoli according to package directions, set aside.
  2. Put pastries in the oven and bake according to their directions. (They take about 20-25 minutes.)
  3. Meanwhile, melt butter in a pan over medium heat. Add onion, saute until tender, about 5 minutes.
  4. Stir in flour, until bubbly. Stir in broth, milk and seasonings. Cook, stirring constantly until sauce boils and thickens (you want a gravy-like consistency), about 10 minutes.
  5. Gently fold in tuna, broccoli, parsley. Cook one more minute until hot. Serve in puff pastries.