In every issue of BBC History Magazine, picture editor Sam Nott brings you a recipe from the past. In this article, Sam recreates coronation chicken – a chicken dish dreamt up for a special royal occasion.
Coronation chicken was created in 1953, when renowned florist Constance Spry and cordon bleu chef Rosemary Hume catered for a banquet to celebrate the coronation of Elizabeth II. It is believed to be inspired by the ‘Jubilee Chicken’ created for George V’s silver jubilee in 1935.
At the time the recipe was widely published so it could be enjoyed at street parties across Britain. But, with postwar rationing still in place, the ingredients would have been hard to come by.
- 2 roasting chickens (I used 2.75 lbs chicken drums and thighs)
- water and a little wine
- 1 carrot
- 1 bouquet garni
- salt and 3–4 peppercorns
For the sauce:
- 2oz chopped onion
- 2 tsp curry powder
- 1 tsp tomato purée
- 1 wine glass of red wine
- ¾ wine glass of water
- 1 bay leaf
- salt, sugar, pepper
- 1–2 slices of lemon
- 1 squeeze of lemon juice
- 1–2 tbsp apricot purée (or apricot jam)
- ¾ pint mayonnaise (I used 28 tbsp)
- 2–3 tbsp whipped cream, plus a little more
- 1 tbsp oil
Poach the chicken with carrot, bouquet, salt and peppercorns in water and a little wine, for about 40 minutes or until tender. Allow to cool in the liquid and remove bones.
Cream of curry sauce: Fry the onion in oil for 3-4 minutes, then add curry powder. Fry for a further 1–2 minutes. Add tomato purée, wine, water, and bay leaf. Bring to boil, add lemon slices and juice, pinch of salt, pepper and sugar. Simmer uncovered for 5–10 minutes. Strain and cool.
Add mayonnaise and apricot purée in stages. Season, and add more lemon juice if necessary. Mix in the whipped cream. Coat the chicken in the sauce and mix in a little extra cream and seasoning. Serve with rice salad and a little extra sauce.
Rice salad: The salad comprised rice, cooked peas, diced raw cucumber, finely chopped mixed herbs and French dressing.
The original version has many more subtle wine and herb-infused flavours than the bright yellow, sultana-laden, modern sandwich filler!
Time: 1 1/2 hours
Based on the original 1953 recipe from The Constance Spry Cookery Book by Rosemary Hume and Constance Spry.