Recipe: Coronation Chicken Finger Sandwiches

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Let’s be real. Any chance I get to play dress up with my daughter, I take.

Like last week, when we wore fancy hats and had a British tea party, complete with coronation chicken and coronation egg salad sandwiches.  united.kingdom.food.recipe.img_1464

Coronation chicken was invented in 1952, for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth. She was twenty-five years old. Her coronation was the first one to ever be televised, and she dressed for the occasion. Her amazing gown was embroidered with symbols of the commonwealth, including food, flowers, and more.

Elizabeth’s coronation gown was commissioned from Norman Hartnell and embroidered on her instructions with the floral emblems of the Commonwealth countries: English Tudor rose; Scots thistle; Welsh leek; Irish shamrock; Australian wattle; Canadian maple leaf; New Zealand silver fern; South African protea; lotus flowers for India and Ceylon; and Pakistan’s wheat, cotton, and jute. (Wikipedia)

Fact: no tea party is complete, if the queen isn’t in attendance.

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If not in person, then at least in spirit.

The royal wave adds just the right flair.

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Even when served as dainty “finger” sandwiches, coronation chicken salad is big, bold, and curried.

You’ll find it worthy of any luncheon; if it’s good enough for the Queen of England, it’s good enough for me!

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In recent years this salad has earned a bad reputation, mostly because of people slapping together some curry with mayo and calling it a day. But I took my inspiration from the original recipe and sauteed the onion, toasted the curry in the pan, and went heavy on the chutney, tomato paste, and diced apricots. The flavor is big, bold, and surprisingly contemporary.

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P.S. If you don’t have time for a sandwich, it’s also amazing served over lettuce or with several handfuls of watercress.

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I did make two major changes, however.

First, the original recipe called for whipped cream to be folded into the mixture, instead of straight mayo. Many modern British prefer yogurt or even more commonly creme fraiche to thin the mayo mixture. I prefer to simply use less mayo, limiting my recipe to a mere 2/3 cup. This also gives the bold curry flavor a chance to shine.

Second, the original recipe is quite refined and strains out some of the ingredients. I chose to keep all those delicious fried bits in there. Just one the many things that differentiates me from the royals.

Serves 8

Ingredients:

4 cups cooked, shredded chicken meat (or substitute 4 cups of chopped, hard-boiled eggs)

vegetable oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 Tbsp curry powder
1/4 cup red wine like marsala (chicken stock may be substituted)
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/3 cup chopped apricots or golden raisins
3 Tbsp sweet mango chutney
2/3-1 cup mayonnaise
salt & pepper

Method:

It’s easy to make our kitchens royal as the Queen’s… no need for gold, no need for glitter…

Buckingham Palace, photo by Mario Modesto.

Buckingham Palace, photo by Mario Modesto.

… just grab an onion and some curry powder the next time you’re at the market. (Even better? Make the curry yourself!)

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All you do is fry the chopped onion in vegetable oil until very soft. Add in the curry powder and cook for a few seconds, before splashing on the wine.

You can practically taste the sizzle.

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Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the tomato paste, lemon juice, and diced apricots.

At this point, the pan will release the most amazing scents. Try not to eat it all right away.

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Make sure it’s not too hot, then add the mixture to a bowl and stir in the chutney, mayo and yogurt. Finally, fold in the chicken.  Keep cold until ready to serve.

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Use as a topping for open-faced sandwiches, or add a second slice of bread, for proper finger sandwiches.

The choice is yours but, either way, do enjoy them with a hot cup of tea.

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Comments

  1. The famous florist Constance Spry and her business partner (who was the chef of the party team) invented the dish.
    I read that it was insanely popular for many a year. I think it made common folk feel a bit royal when they made it.
    Great tea party with a little history thrown in.

  2. I love tea parties. Your photos are adorable. I’m in!

  3. Judi Suttles says:

    I love Coronation Chicken. The first time I had it was at a birthday luncheon for my friend’s daughter. The family
    had just retutned to Texas after in England for 18 years so the menu was perfect. It was wonderful but
    your looks even more delicious! Can’t wait to make this.

  4. Paula Beard says:

    Sasha, I have enjoyed your pins on Lonely Planet’s “World Food” Pinterest board for a while now, since we are both contributors. Just discovered your website, and I love it! Will be following you regularly now. Your daughter is adorable!

  5. Although the Queen is worthy of admiration, and is the quintessence of Englishness, it’s worth noting that she isn’t British at all. George I came from north Germany almost 300 years ago, and he and every British king or queen since then married someone who was from Europe and not Britain. The first English person to marry into British royalty was Diana… and we know how that worked out.

    • love it…Even the Queen Mother now deceased?

    • Sasha Martin says:

      I had no idea! Now I have to go read some history books. There was such a tangle of lineage across Europe, it’s amazing anything was kept straight over the centuries.

      • Yes, kings had to marry the daughters of kings. Sometimes this cause great upheaval because the king of one powerful country married the daughter of another powerful country, and then the daughter’s father died, leaving his kingdom to… the daughter, his only heir… making a super-powerful country when those two countries united. Thus, King Charles of Spain also became Holy Roman Emperor (in Germany) making him the most powerful ruler in Europe around 1510.

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Trackbacks

  1. [...] Chicken Finger Sandwiches [Recipe] Imagine having an entire dish dedicated to you and you alone… This week, you can enjoy the [...]

  2. [...] One of the most popular street foods in the U.K. is Tikki Masala, a dish with Indian origins adapted for British tastes. The creamy, gently spiced dish is a favorite with basmati rice.  The famous (and much beloved) Coronation Chicken, a chicken salad made with curry and chutney, also demonstrates Britain’s close ties to India [Recipe]. [...]

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