Yesterday, June 2nd, marked the 60th anniversary of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. Coronation Chicken was one of the dishes served at the luncheon following the service in Westminster Abbey in 1953. Britain was still in the grips of post-war rationing so developing a formal luncheon menu to feed 300-odd people was definitely a challenge.
The menu was written in French. The meal began with Tomato and Tarragon soup and finished with a choice of Strawberry Galette or Lemon Roulade. The main course was ‘Poulet Reine Elizabeth’ (Chicken Queen Elizabeth), referred to in English as Coronation Chicken. Developed by Rosemary Hume, the original recipe was much more complicated than the versions more commonly served today and required the use of whole chickens poached in water and wine specially for the recipe.
Today chicken breasts are more commonly used, and Coronation Chicken is a great way to use up leftovers. Lightly curried and nutty, it is the perfect summer salad or sandwich filling. I like to serve it atop a bed of thinly sliced lettuces.
- 4 cooked chicken breasts (without skin), diced
- 1 small red onion, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 crisp apple, peeled, cored and finely chopped
- ½ cup seedless grapes (red or green or a mixture of the two), halved, plus extra for garnish
- ¼ cup raisins or sultanas
- ¼ cup flaked toasted almonds plus extra for garnish
- ¼ cup mayonnaise
- about 2 to 3 tablespoons crème fraîche or sour cream (you can use half or reduced fat if you like)
- 1 teaspoon curry powder
- pinch of salt
- freshly ground pepper
- sliced lettuces to serve
- Put the diced chicken breasts, red onion, apple, ½ cup grapes, raisins and ¼ cup flaked toasted almonds in a large bowl.
- Sprinkle with the curry powder.
- Gently stir in the mayonnaise.
- Add the crème fraîche or sour cream a bit at a time until a moist but not runny consistency is reached. You may not need it all.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve on a bed of thinly sliced lettuces, garnished with extra halved grapes and flaked toasted almonds.