Devised in 1953 for the coronation of the current Queen Elizabeth, by the florist Constance Spry and talented cook Rosemary Hume, Coronation Chicken has been standard fare in British pubs and café’s ever since.
Thought to have been based on an earlier dish, known as Jubilee Chicken, created for the silver Jubilee of George V in 1935, it is in essence cold chicken in a curry sauce.
Much abused and misrepresented by a garish yellow mixture of mayonnaise, curry powder and sultanas, the original, light and creamy ideal has fallen by the wayside.
Be that as it may, every chef has his or her own idea of how it should be done. With the up-coming nuptials of Prince William and Kate Middleton I thought it would be a nice idea to put forward my own interpretation of this classic recipe:
First, poach two chicken breasts until tender in a broth of ½ pint of water with some diced carrot, celery, a sprig of fresh thyme, a bay leaf, white peppercorns, a teaspoon of coriander, a teaspoon of cumin and a pinch of ground ginger.
Once tender, remove the breasts from the liquor and set aside to cool. Strain the liquor into a clean pan and reduce by two-thirds.
Sauté two tablespoons of chopped onion with a teaspoon of chopped ginger in olive oil and cook out until soft. Add a dessertspoon of curry powder, (to your preferred taste, though a mild Madras is generally acceptable) a tablespoon of passata, the juice of an orange, a teaspoon of English mustard, ½ a glass of white wine and the cooking liquor. Add a good tablespoon of mango chutney and simmer for 5-6 minutes. Strain and set aside to cool.
Slowly add the reduction to ½ a pint of good mayonnaise. Stir in 1 tablespoon of peeled, diced apple, 1 tablespoon of sultanas and adjust the consistency with natural yoghurt. Season with salt and black pepper.
Dice the cooked chicken breast and mix with sufficient sauce to coat the cubes. Serve garnished with walnut halves, orange segments and parsley.
Coronation chicken can be served with a spicy rice salad or in a baked potato. If the chicken is cut into a small dice it can also be used as a filling for sandwiches, baguettes and tortillas.