Cecil Beaton, 1952
With Her Majesty The Queen's Diamond Jubilee- and River Pageant- just around the corner, I thought it appropriate to turn our thoughts to Coronation Chicken. I admit that I like it. It's slightly bland, perhaps even a trifle unfashionable, but the original Constance Spry recipe is, undoubtably, a classic; far better than the ubiquitous, bog-standard chicken, mayonnaise and curry powder versions you will have come across. It actually tastes of something, too. It's going to be worth making that special effort:
Constance Spry's Original Coronation Chicken
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.
I've got another bit of good news: I've started another blog. It's called The Education of a Gardener, a title nicked unashamedly from the great landscape architect, Russell Page. It's a sort of diary or scrapbook about my efforts to transform a tiny, dingy London backyard into a garden. It's going to be a very different blog from The Greasy Spoon. Simpler, less cluttered. I'm really not worried about how many people can be bothered to read it; it's going to be more of a personal diary, a chart of my progress; my struggle to turn a depressing, shady backyard into a something that I can call truly, a garden.