A comfort food classic found on a vintage recipe card.
With the Recipe Tin Project, sometimes you come across a retro recipe that is best left lost to the passage of time. And sometimes, sometimes, you come across a retro recipe that’s a total classic, like this Chicken a la King. A throwback recipe that screams of the ’50s and ’60s but actually dates all the way back to the 1800s, it’s a creamy and comforting chicken dish that tastes of nostalgia even if you’ve never had it before. (And a little potato chip topping never hurt matters either.)
The Recipe Tin Project is a project where I cook my way through an old recipe tin full of vintage recipes. But you might have already guessed that. It’s chock full of old recipe cards, most of which seem to be from the ’60s and ’70s, though some are older. I love food history, and the idea is to breathe new life into these recipes from the past and maybe learn a technique or two from them along the way. The recipes come from different people with different handwriting; some have sweet illustrations while others are on plain (often smudged and stained) index cards.
This one is on a lined card with a sweet illustration and written in blue cursive that’s easy to read and (blessedly) comes with a fair amount of explanation and instruction. (That is not always the case — sometimes there’s a lot of guesswork with this project!) My favorite part is that there’s a side note that you can use breadcrumbs or potato chips for the topping. We, of course, went with crushed potato chips. Because this is 12 Tomatoes, after all.
Chicken A La King dates all the way back to 1895 when it was invented by a chef named William King, who worked at a hotel in Philadelphia, but it really saw its heyday in the 50s and 60s. That’s probably the version you know — the one with the canned soup and the egg noodles and, yes, maybe a potato chip topping — and that’s exactly what this is. It’s creamy, totally satisfying, and I was very pleasantly surprised at just how good it was. I kept going back for more and more bites after we stopped filming!
Chicken a la King
15m prep time
20m cook time
- 1 (5 or 6 oz) package egg noodles
- 1 can cream of chicken soup
- 2/3 cup milk
- 1 1/2 cups shredded American cheese
- 1/4 cup green bell pepper, chopped
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups diced cooked chicken
- 1 cup celery, sliced
- 1/4 cup pimento
- 1 cup slivered almonds, blanched and toasted
- Breadcrumbs or potato chips
- In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook noodles according to package directions. Drain.
- In a saucepan over medium heat, mix chicken soup, milk, and salt. Once heated, add cheese and stir until melted. Add remaining ingredients except 1/2 cup of the almonds and the breadcrumbs (or chips).
- Pour over noodles in a 2 quart casserole dish. Top with breadcrumbs (or chips) and almonds.
- Bake at 400°F for 20 minutes, uncovered.