Fresh seasonal asparagus, chives and a hint of lemon are featured in Chicken and Asparagus a la King. They’re baked in ready made puff pastry shells, making this a time saving and easy recipe. But the impressive presentation makes them fit for a king. Or queen.
I’m often asked how I come up with recipes. The sad truth is that it’s often at 3:00 a.m. That’s when I’m usually awake. I don’t wake up because I want to think about food. I think about food because I’m already awake. I might as well be a productive insomniac! Chicken and Asparagus a la King is one of those middle of the night ideas based on a memory of 3 dishes that I’ve never forgotten.Jump to Recipe
This recipe is a combo of a classic chicken a la king I had at a wedding shower years ago, asparagus and chicken crepes I tasted at a high school family studies class and an old recipe I had for saucy chicken breasts. I took the best of all 3 and came up with Chicken and Asparagus a la King.
I often make sauces and pastries from scratch but this one is low maintenance. Store bought vol-au-vent pastry shells and canned creamed soup make this a perfect quick lunch or a light dinner. The chicken is poached quickly while you whip up the sauce. And, you don’t even need to pre cook the asparagus. Just toss them in the poaching water for about 5 minutes and you’re good to go.
Asparagus is something that I’m quite particular about. I almost never buy it out of season. The majority of asparagus grown in Canada comes from my community. Lucky me! I can buy it fresh from the farm just a few minutes away. For Chicken and Asparagus a la King, you want fairly small pieces so they fit in the pastry shells. Line them up at the tip and slice them into about 5 cm (2 inch) chunks. Discard the last few inches of asparagus just in case the ends are woody. Fun fact – you would think the thinner spears are more tender but the thicker asparagus is actually more tender.
There is a very small amount of curry powder in the sauce. It’s not meant to be a highlight, it’s a flavour meant to be in the background. And it pairs really well with the other ingredients. In fact the colour works well too. Cream of chicken soup tends to be somewhat yellow ish. So it’s a win win. If you’re really worried, use a little less but trust me. It works. In fact, when I make Chicken and Asparagus a la King I double the amount of curry powder.
Cream of chicken soup can be replaced with cream of anything soup. Mushroom or celery would be fine. There isn’t really a lot of chicken in that soup anyway. But there’s a lot of sodium so go easy on the salt in the sauce. Maybe just a pinch. Use the soup undiluted. You want the filling to be thick.
Fresh lemon juice is always my preference. Depending on the size of the lemon, the temperature and age and even the method you use to juice one means you can get quite a range of juice. A room temperature lemon is best and if you give it a roll on the counter before squeezing you’ll get the most juice. Aim for about 2 tablespoons.
I swing between real mayonnaise and the dressing style sweet stuff called “miracle whip” depending on what I’m making. In this case the sweet stuff is preferable. I feel it goes best with the other ingredients. Mix it in with the other sauce components, then stir in the chopped chicken and asparagus.
Vol-au-vent puff pastry shells can be purchased frozen or in the bakery section. They’re pre baked but they can still handle time in the oven without getting too brown. This way your filling can be baked until it’s warm. Pop the top out and spoon as much filling into the shells as you can. It’s ok if you over fill them. The filling doesn’t tend to spill out so you can really pile it in. Bake the Chicken and Asparagus a la King in a preheated oven for about 30 minutes. The caps don’t need to go in the oven but they look nice on top for presentation.
If asparagus is in season then chives are too. They make a great addition to the sauce and as a garnish. If you don’t have chives, parsley or thyme would be an excellent second choice.
Here’s the recipe:
Chicken and Asparagus a la King
- 12 pre baked Vol-Au-Vent puff pastry shells
- 3-4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 1 bay leaf
- 2-3 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 lb fresh asparagus
- 1 can condensed cream of chicken soup or mushroom or celery
- ½ cup Miracle Whip or other dressing style mayonnaise
- ½ lemon, juiced about 2-3 Tbsp
- ½ tsp curry powder use more or less if desired
- pinch of salt and pepper
- Tbsp fresh snipped chives save extra for garnish
- Preheat oven to 350° and ensure rack is set in the middle.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a simmer. Add chicken breasts, thyme and bay leaf. Simmer gently for 5 minutes. Turn heat off and cover for additional 5 minutes.
- Rinse and trim woody ends from asparagus. Line up evenly from the top and cut into 5 cm (2 inch) chunks. Add to chicken poaching pot after the second 5 minutes. Cover and allow to heat for 5 minutes. Remove chicken to cutting board and allow to cool slightly. Drain and rinse asparagus with cool water. Discard thyme and bay leaf.
- In a large bowl combine soup, mayonnaise, lemon juice, curry powder, chives and salt and pepper. Add asparagus chunks. Cut chicken into small chunks and add to sauce.
- Remove caps from puff pastry shells with a sharp knife or spoon. Lay aside to top pastries after baking. Arrange shells on a large baking sheet. Fill generously with chicken and asparagus mixture. Bake on the middle rack for about 30 minutes until filling is hot.
- Sprinkle with reserved chives and place cap on top for serving.