The Weekly Kitchen: Eating like a King on Dollar Dishes


By ANGELA MCRAE, Special to The Weekly

Thanks to the talented lifestyle influencers of Instagram, I found myself decorating for St. Patrick’s Day.

At first, I didn’t believe I had anything green to decorate with, but I read somewhere to “shop your home” first, so I did. I found a green teapot, a green cake stand, and books with green spines. I discovered green McCoy and Shawnee planters. And that reminded me it was time to pull out my green grill plates.

One day, I was antiquing in Madison, Georgia, when I visited an antique mall where a table held $1 items. That’s a rarity inside an antique mall, so I hurried over. Three green Depression glass grill plates were on the table, and I grabbed them. One had paint on it, but I was betting I could get it off. I did.

So what’s a grill plate? Unlike those rectangular divided plates you ate off in school or at the Piccadilly, round grill plates are divided in half, with the bottom half offering the meat entrée, and the top half again divided in half, each of these smaller sections keeping the vegetables from cozying up to the entrée. While food separation is not a huge concern to me, I hear it’s important to people like Meg Ryan’s character in When Harry Met Sally, who didn’t like to have her foods comingled.

Still, I like to use grill plates when serving meat and veggies for supper, like this Chicken a la King dish. While I’ve made several different versions of Chicken a la King, I like this one from the Old Southern Tea Room cookbook from Mississippi. I had assumed the name meant I would be eating “like a king,” but alas, food historians say the dish was either created by or made for a man whose last name was King (or possibly Keene). So much for the royal pedigree, but a creamy chicken-and-mushroom dish to serve over rice is a nice bit of comfort food all the same.

The entree looks pretty on grill plates, where the vegetables mind their manners and stay in their lanes. Quite a pleasing setup, if you ask me.

Chicken a la King

1 (5-pound) chicken
1 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped parsley
5 tablespoons cornstarch
2 cups milk
1 small (2-ounce) jar pimientos
2 small (7-ounce) cans mushrooms
6 hard-boiled eggs, sliced
1/2 stick butter
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot, cover chicken with water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for about 1 hour, until tender. Debone and cut into large pieces. Strain and use remaining broth (I had about 6 cups) to cook celery, bell pepper and parsley, cooking until tender. Add a few tablespoons of water to the cornstarch to make a paste, then add to the broth and vegetables and whisk until completely blended. Add milk and whisk, then fold in chicken, pimientos, mushrooms, eggs and butter. Season as desired. Yields 10-12 servings.

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