On June 2, 1953, Rosemary Hume, the principal of London’s Le Cordon Bleu school, created Poulet Reine Elizabeth (later known as Coronation Chicken) for one of the many coronation meals that followed the ceremony at Westminster Abbey. Rosemary Hume took inspiration from flavors across the British empire to create a golden dish to mark the occasion. Soon after it grew in popularity and in 1956, it was featured in her first edition of The Constance Spry Cookery Book, written by Rosemary Hume and Constance Spry.
My version is an adaptation of the original, but I think Queen Elizabeth would also enjoy my flavorful version.
I served Coronation Chicken Salad in mini Croissants at my Royal Afternoon Tea Party. It was the hit of the party. Everyone raved about this chicken salad and although I made a lot of salad, I didn’t have any leftovers. The next day I made another batch just for the family.
Making the curry sauce is the most difficult part of this salad because it takes all of 10 minutes. After than, the salad comes together in no time. I prefer to slice the chicken on the bias (diagonal cut) for a sophisticated and delicate sandwich. Cubed meat is chunkier and not the right size for tea sandwiches.
Since I only added half the curry sauce, my Coronation Chicken Salad did not have a strong curry flavor. It was delicate and perfect. One guest said she had never tasted a chicken salad as delicious! Wow, my compliments to Le Cordon Bleu!
Coronation Chicken Salad
Created for Queen Elizabeth's coronation in 1953, this chicken salad has stood the test of time and is still a favorite in England. Drawing inspiration from the different flavors of the British Empire, Rosemary Hume created a golden and creamy curry based salad. Perfect for tea sandwiches – make sure you cut the corners and cut the sandwich in four equal squares, like the Royals enjoy them.
- 1 rotisserie chicken, shredded meat, discard the rest
- 2 Tablespoon butter, unsalted
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 2 Tablespoons curry powder
- ½-⅔ cup red wine (original recipe measured a wine glass)
- 6 Tablespoons mango chutney
- 3 Tablespoons tomato puree
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1 dry bay leaf
- Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
- 1 ¼ cups mayonnaise
- 3 Tablespoons apricot puree, strained
- Optional: ¼ cup golden raisins
Remove the skin and bones from the rotisserie chicken and discard. Chop the clean chicken meat into bite size pieces. Cover and set aside.
In a small sauce pan, warm up the apricot preserve. Thin out with a teaspoon of water, if necessary. When the preserve has liquefied, Strain it through a sieve into a small bowl. Set aside.
MAKING THE CURRY SAUCE
Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat and add the onion. Saute the onion until translucent – about 5 minutes. Add the curry powder and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Add the red wine, mango chutney, tomato puree, lemon juice, pinch of Kosher salt, black pepper to taste and bay leaf. Bring to a simmer and stir occasionally until the sauce thickens, about 8-10 minutes. You may need to reduce the heat slightly. Discard the bay leaf. Strain the sauce and set it aside.
CREATING THE CURRY MAYONNAISE
In a large bowl, combine the mayonnaise and apricot puree. Add half the curry sauce and whisk to combine. Taste and determine the curry flavor profile you like. If you want a strong curry flavor, add the remaining sauce. If the curry flavor is perfect, don't add the remaining curry sauce. Reseason with salt and pepper, if necessary, to taste.
Note: curry is a unique flavor that can be intense and overpowering. Incorporating the curry in increments allows you to slowly determine your flavor preference.
Combine the curry mayonnaise with the chopped chicken meat until the chicken is evenly coated.
Optional: Add golden raisins and slivered almonds for sweetness and crunch.
ASSEMBLING TEA SANDWICHES
Layer lettuce and tomatoes on the bottom of the sandwich and scoop an even layer of chicken salad on top.
Le Cordon Bleu served Coronation chicken with a Rice Salad – cooked rice, cooked peas, diced raw cucumber, diced herbs and all tossed together in a rich French dressing.