Turkey a la King was a popular menu item many years ago. The only restaurants that seem to serve this antique recipe in today's age are greasy spoon diners and cheap buffets.
Chicken a la king was the original recipe. The turkey a la king version became popular a few years later. The original chicken a la king was created in the 1890's by William King at the famous Bellevue Hotel in Philadelphia. Chicken a la king was a fine dining entree for many years.
Many food historians say that sherry was part of the original recipe. I worked with an old yacht club cook who was close to retirement age early in my career. The old cook said that correct liquor for chicken a la king was dry vermouth. That elderly cook started his career in the 1930's and he knew a lot of early 1900's food facts that food historians commonly get wrong.
One item of interest about that old cook was that he was a business partner with Colonel Harland Sanders, who later founded Kentucky Fried Chicken. The old yacht club cook from the 1930's had some kind of a lawsuit against Colonel Sanders for many years and the legal suit claimed that Colonel Sanders had stolen the old cook's fried chicken recipe. Of course the legal suit was dropped, but the old guy was hung up over the decision. Maybe that claim was the secret to the Kentucky Fried Chicken secret recipe. Who knows!
The old cook from the 1930's actually remembered when the turkey a la king version first became popular. He said that many hotel cooks used leftover Thanksgiving turkey to make turkey al la king, but they sold the turkey a la king as chicken a la king on the special du jour board, because they figured that nobody would know the difference. That kind of thing still goes on in today's age, but to a lesser degree. Home cooks did the same thing. They used leftover Thanksgiving turkey to make turkey a la king with the leftovers.
I was a chef in the yacht club system for a few years. Yacht clubs are one place where antique favorite recipes are still on the menu. Customer members at the yacht clubs were wealthy and very old fashioned. Many times, several generations of yacht club family members dined at the same table on occasion. Small table conversations about personal memories of the antique traditional food on the menu was part of the comforting charm of a yacht club.
This 1930's version of the classic turkey a la king was on the lunch menu at the first yacht club that I cooked in. The elderly yacht club cook from the 1930's always presented the turkey a la king with toast points, like the entree in the pictures above. This turkey a la king recipe is very close to the original recipe that the old yacht club cook first made nearly 80 years ago. Peas were added to the turkey a la king recipe and the original chicken a la king had no peas in the recipe. Yacht club members liked this pre 1940 version of turkey a la king in the 1980's, so this recipe could be considered to be timeless!
Turkey a la King Recipe:
This recipe makes one larger serving!
This recipe is made with roasted turkey. Turkey breast is the best choice. Either slow roast a whole turkey or slow roast a turkey breast for this recipe. Leftover roasted turkey is good for this recipe too.
Make a roux in a sauce pot over medium heat with 5 pats of unsalted butter and an equal amount of flour while constantly stirring.
When the roux turns a golden color, add 2 tablespoons of finely minced onion.
Add 1 minced garlic clove. (The hot roux will cook the onions and garlic instantly!)
Immediately add 2 cups of light turkey broth or chicken stock.
Add 1/4 cup of dry vermouth.
Stir as the sauce as it heats and thickens.
The sauce should be a thin sauce consistency, when it becomes hot. Add more turkey broth if the sauce becomes too thick.
Add 1/2 cup of cream.
Add 8 ounces of large bite size pieces of roasted turkey.
Add 1 tablespoon of chopped roasted peeled pimiento.
Add 1/2 cup of large bite size pieces of mixed red bell pepper and green bell pepper.
Add 4 to 5 button mushroom that are cut into halves and quarters.
Add sea salt and white pepper.
Reduce the temperature to low heat.
Stir the sauce occasionally.
Gently simmer and reduce the sauce, till the vegetables become tender and the sauce becomes a medium thin consistency.
About 4 minutes before serving, add 1/2 cup of peas into the turkey a la king.
Turkey a la King Presentation:
Heat a griddle or saute pan over medium heat.
Cut as many triangle shaped toast points from a loaf of French bread as needed to line the border of the casserole serving dish.
Brush the toast point bread slices with melted unsalted butter.
Grill or bake the toast points, till they become golden brown.
Ladle the turkey a la king into a round casserole dish.
Place the toast points around the turkey a la king in the casserole dish, so the finished plate resembles a royal crown.
The sauce is rich with the flavors of vermouth, pimiento, peppers and mushrooms. Turkey tastes so nice with the a la king sauce! The old fashioned presentation with the toast points was the way we served this entree at the yacht club and the members liked the looks of this entree.
Turkey a la king is a well loved recipe even in today's age. This recipe is great for using the extra roasted turkey meat from a holiday dinner. Delicious classic American food! Yum! ... Shawna