Turkey a la King, is your go-to easy, one-pot meal that turns leftover turkey into something truly special. Simmered with mushrooms, veggies, and a creamy, rich sauce that thickens just right, it’s a tasty way to repurpose leftovers and a comfort food favorite.
Turkey à la King is a classic comfort dish enjoyed for generations. Known for its cream sauce and tender pieces of turkey leftovers, it’s the perfect recipe to bring warmth and comfort to your dinner table. You can find the perfect pairing to please your palate with so many ways to serve it, such as over toast, warm biscuits, rice, mashed potatoes, or even puff pastry.
It’s a great way to use up leftover Thanksgiving turkey! You won’t mind having Thanksgiving leftovers for days because you can make this tasty dinner for your family.
Why You’ll Love Turkey a la King
- Resourceful: Making turkey a la king is a fantastic way to use your leftover turkey from Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner. You’ll appreciate how this dish breathes new life into leftovers, transforming them into a different meal.
- Easy to Make: No need to worry about complicated recipes; turkey a la king is a simple recipe you can quickly prepare, even during busy weeknights. With just a few ingredients and a skillet, you’ll have a tasty meal in no time.
- Customizable: One of the best things about turkey a la king is its versatility. You can mix and match veggies according to your taste or what you have on hand. Some common additions include onions, celery, mushrooms, peas, and green peppers. So feel free to get creative and make this dish your own.
- Perfect for Sharing Turkey a la King is a crowd-pleaser, and making a big batch is easy. Feed your family or have friends over – everyone will enjoy the warm, creamy flavors and hearty texture. Plus, it pairs well with toast, rice, or pasta, making it a satisfying meal for even a picky eater.
- Extra virgin olive oil: This will be used for sautéing the vegetables, giving them a rich flavor and smooth texture.
- Small onion: Onions provide a fantastic aromatic base for this dish and will enhance the overall flavor.
- Stalk of celery: Celery ribs are an essential component adding a bit of crunch and a subtle earthy taste.
- Large carrots: Carrots contribute additional texture, color, and natural sweetness to the dish.
- Baby bella mushrooms These fresh mushrooms give a lovely depth of flavor and a tender, meaty texture.
- Chicken broth: This forms the base of your sauce, adding richness and a savory taste.
- Half and half: This will give your dish a creamy, velvety consistency that pairs perfectly with the other ingredients.
- Cornstarch: This thickening agent will help achieve the right consistency for the dish.
- Kosher salt: Salt will bring out the flavors and help to season the dish.
- Italian seasoning: This will add a nice herby touch to your Turkey à la King.
- Black pepper: Pepper adds a layer of heat and flavor, making the dish even more enjoyable.
- Cooked turkey: Tender and juicy turkey is the star of this dish, making it perfect for using up leftover holiday turkey.
- Frozen peas: Adding a sweet contrast to the dish, sweet peas give a pop of color and extra nutrients.
How to Make Turkey a la King
- Step One: Heat the olive oil in a large deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add the diced onion and sauté for 4 to 5 minutes until it softens.
- Step Two: Add the celery, carrots, and sliced mushrooms to the skillet. Season the veggies with a small pinch of salt and sauté for another 4 to 5 minutes until the mushrooms soften. Once ready, remove the veggies from the skillet and set them aside for later.
- Step Three: Pour the chicken stock into the skillet and scrape any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Allow it to simmer over medium-low heat.
- Step Four: Whisk the cornstarch with half and half to create a slurry. Once the stock is simmering, gradually pour the slurry into the skillet, stirring constantly, until the sauce forms a creamy gravy thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Add some Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper for extra flavor.
- Step Five: add the cooked veggies, cubed turkey, and frozen peas to the skillet, stirring everything together. Cook the turkey mixture over medium-low heat for about 4 to 5 minutes until the peas and turkey are warmed. Season with salt and pepper to taste if needed.
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What to Serve with Turkey a la King
- Green Salad: A fresh green salad can add a delightful crunch and balance the richness of Turkey a la King. Choose your favorite greens and toss them with a light vinaigrette dressing for a simple yet refreshing addition to your meal.
- Steamed Vegetables: Steaming vegetables, such as broccoli, green beans, or asparagus, is a healthy and flavorful way to enhance your Turkey a la King. Season with salt and pepper, or squeeze lemon juice to add brightness to the dish.
- Rolls or Bread: Soft and warm dinner rolls or a crusty loaf of bread are great for sopping up the creamy sauce from your Turkey a la King. This is a comforting option, especially during colder months.
How to Serve
Turkey à la King is a versatile dish with multiple serving options. Below are three popular serving suggestions to help you enjoy this delicious dish even more.
A classic way to savor your Turkey à la King is by serving it over a bed of fluffy rice. White or brown rice works well with the creamy sauce, offering a satisfying meal. Just cook your favorite type of rice according to package instructions, spoon the saucy Turkey à la King on top, and enjoy! The mild flavor of the rice complements the rich and creamy dish and allows the flavors of the turkey and vegetables to shine through.
If you’re a fan of bread, you’ve got a couple of great options for pairing your Turkey à la King with this staple. The simplest method is to toast thick slices of your favorite bread, such as a hearty sourdough or whole wheat, and ladle Turkey à la King.
Alternatively, you can get creative by serving it over split biscuits or inside a hollowed-out bread bowl. This adds an extra layer of comfort and enjoyability to the dish. Just be sure the bread you choose is sturdy enough to hold up to the creamy sauce.
As a Filling
Turkey à la King also makes delectable puff pastry shells or crêpes filling. To use as a filling, simply prepare your puff pastry shells or crêpes as directed, then spoon a generous helping of Turkey à la King inside. Fold or cover as desired, and serve immediately.
You can also serve it over mashed potatoes or egg noodles.
Chicken a La King
If you prefer poultry other than turkey, you can easily make a delicious Chicken a La King dish instead. Simply replace the turkey with cooked leftover chicken and follow the same process. You’ll still enjoy the creamy sauce, vegetables, and mushrooms that make this recipe so satisfying.
Some people even use rotisserie chicken, which saves time and effort. Feel free to mix and match vegetables, or even add bell peppers or celery for extra crunch and flavor.
You can replace the meat with plant-based protein options or additional vegetables for a vegetarian twist on this classic dish. Some great substitutes for turkey or chicken are tofu, tempeh, or seitan. Just cook your chosen plant-based protein according to package instructions before incorporating it into the dish.
You can also use a variety of vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, or even roasted eggplant to create a satisfying and comforting vegetarian a la king. Additionally, consider using vegetable broth instead of chicken or turkey broth to keep the dish vegetarian-friendly.
- Protein: If you don’t have leftover turkey, you can easily use chicken or diced ham. These proteins work great in the sauce and can be a perfect solution if you use up other leftovers.
- Serving options: While Turkey a la King is often served over toast, biscuits, or rice, you can explore alternatives like pasta, puff pastry shells, or even cornbread wedges. For those looking to reduce their carb intake, consider options like spaghetti squash, zucchini noodles, or cauliflower rice.
- Dairy-free: If you’re avoiding dairy, replace the half-and-half cream with a dairy-free alternative like almond milk or coconut milk. Remember that the sauce might not be as thick; you can thicken it with more flour or try a dairy-free cream alternative.
- Vegetables: Feel free to add your favorite vegetables to Turkey a la King. Some ideas include red bell pepper, green bell pepper, broccoli, and asparagus.
- Swap out the oil: Saute the onions in fresh butter instead of olive oil.
- Cream options: Swap out the half and half for heavy cream for a more rich version. You can also use skim milk to make it less creamy.
- Spice options: Swap out the onions for one teaspoon of onion powder. Use white pepper instead of black pepper. Experiment with other dried herbs like thyme and rosemary instead of the Italian seasoning.
Recipe Tips and Tricks
- Ensure you have all your ingredients prepared before starting. It’s essential to dice the cooked turkey into bite-sized pieces and chop your vegetables, such as onions, carrots, and celery, for even cooking.
- For extra flavor, add a touch of dry white wine or sherry to the mixture. It helps to elevate the dish and adds a unique depth of flavor. Just remember to allow the alcohol to cook off, leaving behind only its essence.
- Don’t forget the mushrooms! They play a crucial role in Turkey à la King, so select fresh bella, button, or cremini mushrooms, slice them, and sauté them until they are tender before adding them to the dish.
First, let the turkey a la king cool down to room temperature. Ensure not to leave the dish out too long, as this could increase the risk of bacterial growth. A good rule of thumb is to cool the dish for no more than two hours before storing it.
Once cooled, transfer the turkey a la king to an airtight container or use a resealable plastic bag. This helps retain moisture and prevents your dish from drying out. You can also portion the a la king into smaller containers to easily reheat single servings later.
For short-term storage, place the airtight container in your refrigerator. Your turkey a la king will stay fresh for 3-4 days.
If you’d like to keep your turkey a la king for an extended period, you can opt for freezing. This allows you to enjoy the dish weeks or even months later. Before freezing, label the container with the dish’s name and the date it was prepared. Properly stored, frozen turkey a la king can last up to 2-3 months.
When it’s time to reheat your turkey a la king, be sure to thaw it overnight in the refrigerator if it was previously frozen. This helps prevent the dish from becoming soggy. After thawing, you can reheat the dish on the stovetop over a low temperature, stirring frequently to ensure even heating. Enjoy your delicious turkey a la king once it reaches your desired temperature!
Can I Freeze?
Yes, you can freeze Turkey, a la King! Whether you have leftovers you’d like to save for later, or you want to prepare them in advance, freezing is a great option.
When freezing Turkey a la King, it’s important to use airtight containers or heavy-duty freezer bags. Remove as much air as possible to prevent freezer burn and preserve the dish’s flavors.
Before putting the dish in the freezer, let it cool to room temperature. Cooling the dish prevents condensation, which could lead to ice crystals and a mushy texture when you reheat it.
Label your containers or bags with the date and dish name, so you’ll know when to use them. Turkey a la King can be stored in the freezer for up to three months. When you’re ready to reheat, let the dish thaw in the refrigerator overnight or use the defrost function on your microwave.
One more tip: When reheating Turkey a la King, do so gently over low heat to help retain the dish’s creamy texture. Too high heat could cause the sauce to break and become grainy, which we want to avoid.
Origins of Turkey a La King
There are several theories surrounding the creation of Turkey a La King. One popular belief is that it was invented in the late 19th century by a chef named William King, who worked at the Bellevue Hotel in Philadelphia. According to this theory, Chef King made the dish for a special occasion and named it after himself. However, there is no solid evidence to support this claim.
Another theory suggests that the dish was created by the famous French chef Auguste Escoffier during his time working at the luxurious Savoy Hotel in London. Escoffier was known for crafting delightful meals combining the best French and English cuisine, and Turkey a La King would certainly fit the bill. But like the William King story, there is no conclusive proof to back up this theory.
Leftover Turkey Recipes
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Turkey a la King
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 small onion diced
- 1 stalk celery diced
- 2 large carrots peeled and diced
- 8 oz baby bella mushrooms sliced
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 1 cup half and half
- 3 tbsp cornstarch
- ½ tsp kosher salt plus more to taste
- ½ tsp Italian seasoning
- ¼ tsp black pepper to taste
- 2 cups cooked turkey cubed
- 1 cup frozen peas
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the diced onion, and saute for 4 to 5 minutes until softened.
- Add the celery, carrots and sliced mushrooms to the skillet. Season the veggies with a small pinch of salt and saute for another 4 to 5 minutes, until the mushrooms start to soften. Remove the veggies from the skillet and set aside.
- Pour the chicken stock into the skillet and scrape any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat.
- Whisk together the cornstarch with the half and half to form a slurry. When the stock is simmering, slowly pour the slurry into the skillet, stirring constantly, until the sauce forms a creamy gravy that is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Season with Italian seasoning, salt and pepper.
- Add the cooked veggies, cubed turkey, and frozen peas to the skillet and stir to combine. Stir over medium-low heat for about 4 to 5 minutes, until the peas and turkey are warmed through. Season with salt and pepper, if needed. Serve over cooked biscuits, rice or mashed potatoes.