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Bailey Tries… Coronation Chicken

Hello! It’s me again. Your resident Curiosity Queen and we’re back at it. Y’all know I can’t help but try things that make me curious and today’s recipe is no different EXCEPT you may actually want to make this one yourself unlike the Tuna and Waffles.

I love British television and that includes documentaries and cooking shows. If you watch more than a few Coronation Chicken will be mentioned in passing as discussing a Big Mac. Like, it is something that is ubiquitous in popular culture in the UK, much like a Full English. So what is Coronation Chicken? Well, my basic understanding prior to this moment centered around a lady named Constance Spry who created this national dish for the coronation of HM Queen Elizabeth in 1953 and I knew it was a “chicken salad” but British with no clue what that meant. If you would like the full history, including Le Cordon Bleu, you can check out this link. So, after years and years of hearing it mentioned so fondly, I decided to find out what it was all about and I’m so glad that I did!

First, let me say that the recipe I use can be found here and, like most nationally loved dishes, it has morphed over the decades to become something a little different from the original but still based on the concept. When I originally set out to try this I was going to go whole hog (or chicken) and do the original but if I’m honest I just didn’t want to do that. One, as I’m writing this we are in the beginning of the school year and ain’t no tired like teacher tired. Two, the original includes a lot of ingredients not readily available at my grocery OR items that I would never use again which would be wasteful. Finally, once I realized what the general flavor profile was supposed to be I wanted to find a recipe I could easily make at non-special coronation times. Thus, I used this more modern adaptation and even adapted the process a bit myself to make it doable on a weekday, if you know what I mean.

Now, let me state up front that if you do not enjoy curry, middle eastern spices or autumnal flavors, this isn’t for you. In fact, as I was cooking it thinking, “This smells fantastic.” I had someone else come in and go “Yuck! What is that smell?” However, if you do enjoy those things this is a quick way to do it.

I basically followed the recipe as stated except I used 5 tablespoons of apricot jam because I would have had to order Major Grey Chutney online and at $10 a jar I went looking for a substitute. Everything I read said apricot jam would work and since we were already using it I thought that would be perfect. I also used dried onion because there wasn’t a shallot to be found but I didn’t want the harsh acidity of a fresh onion so I figured dried would work as well. Everything else was easily sourced at the local grocery store and a ton I already had in my kitchen.

Process wise, I did make several adjustments. Like I said, I’m wanting quick, weeknight comfort food so words like blender were not going to happen. I figured if I could do everything in the one pan that is less to clean up so that's what I did. I was afraid that the texture might be off but with the addition of almonds and grapes you really have too much going on to notice. (Constance Spry forgive me!) I also chose to use frozen rotisserie chicken because I couldn't find a real rotisserie chicken at the time and I wanted to throw this together after work and not have to wait for chicken to cook in the oven. That’s me but you do you.

Y’all, let me tell you! This stuff was fantastic. Traditionally, it would be eaten cold as a chicken salad sandwich on bread. I tried it and it was amazing cold BUT I also tried it hot and that might have been better. In fact, I think I may make it again, add some veggies and serve it over rice. Like a very Americanized, semi-homemade curry. I’m thinking how great this will be in the fall just thrown in the slow cooker. (Though I may switch out the grapes for raisins like I saw in some recipes.) I was so shocked by how great this was and I now understand why it seems to hold the same sentimental place as American classics like Chicken Pot Pie and Green Bean Casserole. Definitely my most successful recipe experiment of C&C.


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