Isn't Coronation Chicken a bit of a joke? I've got childhood memories of dubious buffet parties where Coronation Chicken was served: yellow in colour, looking a bit like vomit studded with sultanas, okayish in taste- but my god; bland, bland, bland.
As you may have gathered by now, I'm interested in the history of classic dishes- so as I had some time on my hands, I decided to do a bit of good old-fashioned research. I had a sneaky suspicion that Coronation Chicken had been invented for an earlier coronation, say the coronation of George V, or even for that ultimate bon vivant himself, Edward VII.
Well, I was almost right. Constance Spry (the trendy 50's florist) "invented" Coronation Chicken for the Queen's coronation in June, 1953. But a very similar dish (ie chicken bound in curried mayonnaise) was invented for George V's Silver Jubilee in 1935. This was called Jubilee Chicken.
I made something similar the other night- to go with a salad. I simmered some chicken pieces in stock, bound them in a home-made mayonnaise, added some curry powder and finished off the whole shooting match with some grapes. And that's what you normally get: chicken with curried mayonnaise.
However, I've found the original Constance Spry recipe for Coronation Chicken on the net and interestingly enough, it's different- and "gasp of amazement", includes red wine. Here's the original version:
Ingredients (Serves 8):
2.3kg (5lb) chicken
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 small, finely chopped onion
1 tbsp curry paste
1 tbsp tomato purée
100ml red wine
1 bay leaf
1/2 lemon juice
4 finely chopped apricot halves
300ml (1/2 pint) Mayonnaise
100ml (4 fl oz) whipping cream
Salt and pepper
Watercress to garnish
1) Skin the chicken and cut into small pieces and grill it until cooked.
2) In a small saucepan, heat the oil, add the onion and cook for about three minutes, until softened.
3) Add the curry paste, tomato purée, wine, bay leaf and lemon juice.
4) Simmer, uncovered, for about 10 minutes until well reduced.
5) Strain and leave to cool.
6) Purée the chopped apricot halves in a blender or food processor or through a sieve.
7) Beat the cooled sauce into the mayonnaise with the apricot purée.
8) Whip the cream to stiff peaks and fold into the mixture.
9) Season, adding a little extra lemon juice if necessary.
10) Fold in the chicken pieces, garnish with watercress and serve.