Poulet Reine Elizabeth (Coronation Chicken)
Originally listed on the menu as Poulet Reine Elizabeth, Coronation Chicken as it is now known, was created for Her Majesty’s guests at the 1953 Coronation Luncheon of Queen Elizabeth II by Chef Rosemary Hume of The Cordon Bleu Cookery School, London.
In honor of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, we are recreating Poulet Reine Elizabeth. It was described back then as cold chicken, boned and coated in curried cream sauce. The delicately seasoned chicken was proclaimed a huge success at the luncheon.
The traditional recipe had subtle wine and herb flavors with a creamy pale pink color, unlike modern versions that are mostly bright yellow and often include such ingredients as golden raisins, grapes, celery, almonds, mango chutney, and cilantro. Most notably, Chef Hume’s 1950s recipe contained a good dollop of fresh whipped cream, whereas today’s cooks often substitute yogurt or crème fraîche.
The following cold curried chicken recipe closely resembles that original one, served at the Coronation Day banquet to three hundred fifty people in the Great Hall of Westminster School. It is plated on my newly acquired Royal Staffordshire English Ironstone vintage dinnerware.
Coronation Chicken Recipe
- 1 1/2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken tenderloins
- 1 small carrot, rough chopped
- a few sprigs of parsley, including stems
- a few sprigs of thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 t. black peppercorns
- 1/3 c. dry white wine
Place chicken in a pot, in a single layer. Season with salt. Pour wine over the chicken. Add aromatics then add enough water to cover by 1 inch. Bring to a boil, then immediately reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook until chicken is 165°F, about 8 minutes. Remove chicken to a platter to cool.
Once cooled, chop chicken into bite-sized pieces. Place chicken in a mixing bowl and set aside.
The original recipe calls for a whole poached chicken, rather than just chicken breast meat.
Cream of Curry Sauce
- 1 T. oil
- 2 oz. onion, finely chopped
- 2 t. curry powder
- 1 t. tomato paste
- 1/3 c. dry red wine
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 lemon slices
- lemon juice
- salt and pepper, and sugar
- 3 T. apricot jam
- 1 c. mayonnaise
- 1/3 c. whipped cream (unsweetened)
In a small sauté pan, cook onion in oil until softened. Add curry powder and cook for one minute, stirring frequently. Add tomato paste, wine, bay leaf, and 1/4 c. water. Bring to a boil. Add lemon slices, a good squeeze of lemon juice, a pinch of salt, pepper, and sugar. Simmer to reduce by half, uncovered, about 5 to 10 minutes. Strain and cool.
Mix the cooled base with mayonnaise. Fold in the apricot jam.
Add mayonnaise mixture to the chopped chicken to coat well (all the mayonnaise mixture may not be needed). Lastly, fold the whipped cream into the chicken mixture. Taste for seasoning. Chill until ready to serve.
- mixed salad greens
- olive oil
- lemon juice
- salt and pepper
- edible flowers (optional)
Toss mixed greens and fruit with a splash of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice, salt and pepper. Arrange salad on plates. Scoop a mound of coronation chicken in the middle. Garnish with edible flowers.
Rosemary Hume and The Cordon Bleu staff and students served the Coronation Chicken to the foreign dignitaries with a side salad of consisting of rice, green peas, and pimentos.
Royal Staffordshire Stratford Stage
J. & G. Meakin was an English pottery manufacturing company founded in 1851 and based in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire.
In the 19th century, J. & G. Meakin was known for the ironstone china it produced for the domestic English market and for export to Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States.
Extending a huge thank you to Charlotte, of Bullhead City, AZ, for the lovely blue photogenic Stratford Stage ironstone dinnerware set, to add to my vintage collections! The timing couldn’t be more perfect.
Read more about the Coronation and get my recipe for delicious crumpets here.
Le Cordon Bleu, BBC History Magazine, BBC, Wikipedia