Coronation Chicken – Worth the Effort

Coronation Chicken was indeed created for a coronation, that of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953, by Rosemary Hume and Constance Spry. The yellowish ready made concoction you find in your local sandwich shop is a pale shadow of the real thing. Indeed, the dressing actually has a pale pinkish colour when made properly because of the red wine and tomato puree involved (depending on how much turmeric is in your curry powder.)

Make no mistake, this is no sandwich filler. A very British picnic or lunch should have succulent poached chicken dressed with the Coronation Chicken sauce and served with a crisp salad. You will be amazed how much better and different this is to the normal gloop.

I have to be honest it is a bit of effort, but you can freeze the liquid essence that flavours the mix, to use it multiple times. If you have some leftover wine (that can happen, right?) then make the essence and freeze it in a couple of portions.

The quantities here will dress enough salad for about 6 servings, or more depending on size, and generosity with the precious sauce.

Ingredients

Essence

  • 50g of chopped onions
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 dsp to tbsp of a decent traditional British Madras curry powder (if you are in the UK I can recommend the M&S roasted curry powder, it’s perfect)
  • 1 tsp tomato puree
  • 150ml red wine
  • 120ml water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of sugar
  • a twist of pepper
  • 2 slices of lemon
  • And a small squeeze of the lemon juice

Dressing

  • about 400ml of bland homemade mayonnaise (made with sunflower oil and be modest with the mustard and lemon)
  • 2 tbsp apricot puree (the non-whole fruit part of apricot jam is just fine)
  • 3 tbsp softly whipped cream

Method

Essence

  1. Soften the onions in the oil very slowly until they are fully soft and not browned, this can easily take 20 plus minutes
  2. Add the curry powder and cook off for a couple of minutes
  3. Add the tomato puree, wine, water, bay leaf, salt, sugar, pepper, lemon slice and lemon juice and bring to a gentle simmer for 10 minutes.
  4. Now strain the liquid into a container through a sieve, pushing the onions through the sieve and stirring the small amount of onion paste into the essence. It seems a bit unpromising and not quite the right flavour at this stage but stick with it. You can freeze this essence.

Dressing

  1. Put the mayonnaise into a bowl
  2. Add the apricot puree (this provides sweetness and balances with the acidic essence)
  3. Spoon in the softly whipped cream
  4. Add as much of the essence you feel you need and gently hand whisk it to amalgamate.
  5. Taste and season, and adjust, if required.

Serve the Coronation Chicken sauce as a dressing with some poached chicken and salad.

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