Originally, Coronation Chicken, or Poulet Reine Elizabeth, was made for the coronation banquet of Elizabeth II in 1953, but it is said to have been partly inspired by a similar and earlier recipe known as Jubilee Chicken, made for the Silver Jubilee of George V in 1935, which mixed the chicken in mayonnaise and curry. Created by the founder of Le Cordon Bleu cookery school, Rosemary Hume – rather than her better-known business partner, celebrity florist Constance Spry, as is often claimed – Coronation Chicken was a deliberate and tactful compromise between the luxurious and the thrifty for a country still under the dreary yoke of postwar rationing. The original recipe was published in the newspapers ahead of the coronation so that the 'common' people might partake of what their new queen would be eating on her very special day.
Modern Coronation Chicken Salad
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 tbsp mild curry powder
2 tbsp sunflower oil
salt and pepper
1 cup red seedless grapes, halved
6 stalks celery, very finely chopped
1 container of onion, pea or clover sprouts
1/2 cup pecan, toasted
4 tbsp mayonnaise
1 cup crème fraîche
1/2 cup mango chutney
2 tbsp curry powder
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Rub the chicken with oil, curry powder, salt and pepper. Place on a baking tray and bake in the oven for 20 minutes until cooked through. Allow to rest for 10 minutes then pull into bite size pieces. Allow to cool completely before adding to your salad.
Mix the ingredients for the dressing very well. Mix the cooled chicken, celery, grapes, and half the alfalfa shoots with the dressing. Serve the Coronation Chicken Salad over mixed salad greens and garnish with alfalfa sprouts, grapes, pecans and some diced celery.
Original 1953 Coronation Chicken
The original coronation chicken recipe, concieved by Rosemary Hume for Elizabeth II's Coronation lunch in 1953
2 medium chickens
Thyme, bay leaf, parsley and 4 peppercorns to flavour
1 dessertspoon curry powder
1 onion, chopped
1 tsp tomato purée
1 glass red wine
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 cups mayonnaise
1-2 tbsp apricot purée
2-3 tbsp whipped cream
Poach two chickens for 40 minutes in water with the carrot, a splash of wine, thyme, bay leaf, parsley and four peppercorns. Cool in the liquid then remove the meat from the bones. To make the sauce, heat a tablespoon of oil in a pan and add two tablespoons of chopped onion. Cook gently for three minutes then add a dessertspoon of curry powder. Cook for a further two minutes. Add one teaspoon of tomato purée, a glass of red wine, 3/4 wineglass of water, one bay leaf, and bring to the boil. Then add a pinch each of salt, sugar and pepper, the juice of 1/2 a lemon and simmer for 5-10 minutes. Strain and cool. Add slowly to the mayonnaise, then stir in 1-2 tablespoons of apricot purée. Season again – the sauce must not be too sweet. Finish by adding 2-3 tablespoons of whipped cream. Add only enough sauce to coat the chicken lightly, then eat it with a rice salad or serve in sandwiches.