I have wondered whether I should include coronation chicken in a selection of traditional English recipes, since it is just over 50 years old, but discussions with friends have persuaded me.
Since the dish was invented by Constance Spry and Rosemary Hume for Her Majesty's coronation in 1953, it has become a firm classic with the English and appears in many different guises in homes and restaurants alike.
Originally, it was served at the coronation lunch. But the tasty mix of cooked chicken in a curry cream sauce is very versatile and makes an excellent salad to be eaten outside on a summer's day as part of a smart or more casual picnic. You will also find it on many pub menus as a filling for sandwiches, rolls or even baked potatoes.
Coronation chicken makes a great starter to a dinner party, served with watercress and mango, or it can be successfully turned into a classy canape. Just cut squares or circles from a sheet of puff pastry, score a line about 5mm from the edge and weigh down the centre with baking beans. Cook until golden and well-risen, the fill each one with a spoonful of chicken and curry mix.
The recipe given below serves eight persons and is from The Constance Spry Cookery Book by Constance Spry & Rosemary Hume (1956)
Skin the chicken and cut into small pieces and grill it until cooked.
In a small saucepan, heat the oil, add the onion and cook for about three minutes, until softened.
Add the curry paste, tomato puree, wine, bay leaf and lemon juice.
Simmer, uncovered, for about 10 minutes until well reduced. Strain and leave to cool.
Puree the chopped apricot halves in a blender, food processor or through a sieve.
Beat the cooled sauce into the mayonnaise with the apricot puree.
Whip the cream to stiff peaks and fold into the mixture.
Season, adding a little extra lemon juice if necessary.
Fold in the chicken pieces, garnish with watercress and serve.