My experience of coronation chicken is mixed and dates back to a time when I’d happily take a stroll from the office to buy a sandwich for lunch. I’m conjuring up images of soft white bread rolls smeared with a thick layer of toxic looking margarine (if you weren’t quick enough to shout across the counter “no spread, please”) and a chunky yellow filling that varied greatly in quality from establishment to establishment. The calibre of the mayonnaise was highly dubious wherever procured.
So it was something of a surprise that coronation chicken jumped out at me from the leftovers section of Laura Mason’s “Roasts” book. And therein lie a dichotomy. I could use Mason’s recipe designed no doubt to be a simple one for leftovers, that relies on a desert spoon of mild Madras curry powder. Or I could go in search of a more sophisticated ingredient list in homage to the dish that was conceived as Poulet Reine Elizabeth, for Queen Elizabeth II's Coronation luncheon in 1953.
Mason’s recipe did specify homemade mayonnaise and as I was bereft of anything in the way of leftover chicken and it was a Tuesday night so time was tight, I decided to go with easy ingredients, pan-frying and oven-baking some chicken breasts, but make the mayonnaise myself.
Mayonnaise. A first for me, so I sought out a straightforward recipe. Sadly, Jamie Oliver’s ‘My beautiful Mayo’ recipe didn’t work first time. (Maybe because I cut the quantities in half and only used cold pressed rapeseed oil). My second attempt with a mix of rapeseed and EVOO, half the quantities but with two egg yolks (maybe Jamie’s are extra-large?) did work a treat though.
If I were to rate my dishes based on the state of the kitchen post cooking, this evening’s meal would emerge with a low score indeed. Luckily taste is the decisive factor, and on this basis the dish came out with 7/10. It was served with a chicory and satsuma salad.
If I’m tempted to make coronation chicken in 2021, I think I’ll refer back to Felicity Cloake’s ‘How to cook perfect coronation chicken.’