Queen of the Coop: Coronation Chicken
During King Charles's coronation, I stayed away from the channels that were supporting the pomp and circumstance. It's not that I have a problem with their tradition, I just never got caught up in the royal family. And can you believe I am one of the odd ones who has never seen an episode of Downton Abbey? I bet you're clutching your pearls right now, your Queen Elizabeth pearls...
In Episode Seven of my podcast with the same name, I shared my discovery about this special coronation dish. The Friday evening before the coronation I turned on my favorite news, Anderson Cooper 360. It turns out he was in London and reporting on the coronation. I was going to turn the channel, but Cooper was getting ready to interview one of my favorite evening soap actresses – Joan Collins, who played Alexis Carrington Colby in the 1980s series, Dynasty. In Britain, she is known as Dame Joan Collins. Collins will turn 90 years old on the 23rd of this month (May) and she looked and sounded like her usual fabulous self.
Dame Collins told Cooper that on coronation day she would be hosting a coronation party, and when asked what was on the menu she said “Coronation Chicken.” and explained Coronation Chicken was a real thing and could often be found at many of the local market delis around London.
So this intrigued me so much that I added Coronation Chicken to my list of things to research. I was amused and pleasantly surprised when the following day I received an email from one of the food websites I subscribe to, and there was a recipe for Coronation Chicken. The recipe wasn't at all like expected! It turns out I have been making Coronation Chicken for over thirty years - - and didn't know it! And here I thought it was perhaps a special chicken casserole dish like the French Coq au Vin, or a roasted chicken with little gold paper frills on the end of its drumsticks.
So, I went directly to the source of who created this special dish, Le Cordon Bleu of London, which is world-renowned for the best education in culinary since the 16th century. In 1953 the school was asked to design and create the menu for Queen Elizabeth's special coronation luncheon for Her Majesty’s 350 guests, who were mostly representatives of other countries.
Here is Le Cordon Bleu's original recipe for Coronation Chicken. However, in the last 70 years, the recipe has been tweaked a bit by various delis and chefs with each adding their own special spin. I was pleasantly surprised that the recipe I received in the subscription email was exactly like my recipe - except sometimes I have used dried cranberries instead of golden raisins.
So, here is "Queen Catie's Coronation Chicken."
- Instead of golden raisins or dried cranberries, add dried currants or roughly chopped dried apricots.
- If you prefer, use a blend of half mayonnaise and half Greek yogurt.
- Add a couple of tablespoons of Major Grey's Chutney for a real British flair.
- Looking for a vegetarian spin? Instead of chicken, add a couple of cups of well-drained and chilled cooked chickpeas, roughly smashed. This option is really tasty on a croissant.
There are many ways to serve this dish. Pair it with crackers for scooping or a spread, or place a big scoop of the chicken on Bibb or Butter lettuce like a traditional salad, or serve it on a toasted bun. The original recipe from Le Cordon Bleu serves the chicken in a brioche bun that is scooped out so the bun resembles a bowl.
Be the Queen or King in your kitchen. Happy Coronation!
Recommended wine: A crisp, ripe white wine like a Pinot Grigio or Gewurtztraminer. Look for apple and citrus flavors that pair well with chicken-focused salads and curry. A demi-sec Loire white or a demi-sec sparkling like a prosecco would be refreshing.