Coronation Chicken, a dish fit for a Queen
Coronation Chicken is a mixture of shredded roast chicken, mayonnaise and curry powder. While its popularity has come and gone over the decades, it can still be found in most sandwich shops and tea rooms across the UK.
History; The Coronation
Coronation Chicken, as its name suggests, was invented for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. While Elizabeth II immediately became queen after the death of her father King George VI in 1952, the coronation did not take place until a year later. This was to allow for a period of mourning for the king, where a celebratory event like a coronation was not deemed appropriate.
Constance Spry, a food writer and flower arranger, and Rosemary Hume, a chef, were tasked with creating a dish to be served to hundreds of people at the celebratory banquet after the coronation. Both Spry and Hume were principals at the Cordon Bleu Cookery School in London, and Spry suggested the recipe of cold chicken in a creamy curry sauce. It was originally called Poulet Reine Elizabeth, or Chicken Elizabeth.
Queen Elizabeth's coronation was the first to be aired on television, and it is thought by some that part of its popularity came from the idea that the easy recipe made for an ideal TV dinner.
The dish was inspired by Jubilee Chicken, a similar recipe prepared for the Silver Jubilee of George V in the 1930s.
The original recipe for Coronation Chicken served at the banquet was quite refined, and has been simplified for home preparation. It used white wine, onions, apricot puree and some whipped cream to thin out the mayonnaise. It was served with a cold rice salad, consisting of rice mixed with peas, cucumber and herbs.
The simpler version is mayonnaise mixed with curry powder and often some form of dried fruit, such as mango, raisins or cranberries. It is quick and easy to prepare, and so became very popular across the country as a salad, sandwich filling or topping on a baked potato. As it can be made in advance and in bulk, it was the ideal dish to be served at the street parties that were held across the country in celebration of the coronation.
For the Queen's Golden Jubilee in 2002, a modern twist on the recipe was created. This recipe was radically different, flavoring crème fraîche and mayonnaise with lime and ginger rather than curry powder. It was also served with a pasta salad rather than with rice. It did not reach anywhere near the same popularity that the original Coronation Chicken saw.
At Tina's Traditional, our version has dried cranberry as the dried fruit element, something very familiar with our American audience, and we serve it as Coronation Chicken Salad on a bed of greens, as well as use it as a filling for our tea sandwiches and toasted deluxe sandwich.