Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A Salad Fit for a Queen

What do you get if you add chicken and grapes to the items below?

Okay, that was a trick question because you could makes lots of yummy things with this mix of ingredients. And I omitted one of the key ingredients because it was a give-away. Did you guess? The missing item is curry powder and we're making Curried Chicken Salad - a staple of Ladies' Luncheons in the 1950s and 60s. This is a variation on Coronation Chicken, which was first served (according to chicken salad folklore) for Queen Elizabeth II's coronation in 1953. I have eaten Coronation Chicken lots of times in the UK and it's a bit different from the typical American version. And, like many traditional dishes, it is often updated with modern techniques and trendier ingredients (substitute mango for raisins or creme fraiche for mayo). One of things we all like about chicken salad is that you don't have to be precise - a little more of this or a little less of that, and it's still fabulous, as seen here:

Here's the recipe - I've fiddled with it a bit over the years, but here are the basics:

Curried Chicken Salad (aka Coronation Chicken)

Poach 2-3 chicken breasts (bone in or boneless/skinless) in water or broth to cover. Add flavor to the poaching liquid by adding some or all of these: 1-2 carrots, cut into large chunks; 1-2 stalks celery, halved; 1/2 onion, cut into wedges; 2 thin slices ginger (your kitchen will smell heavenly!), 1/2 t. salt, 5-10 cracked peppercorns. Simmer until chicken is done - 30-40 minutes. Remove chicken and cool, then shred or dice.

Mix cooled chicken with:

  • 1 cup seedless grapes, halved
  • 1 cup water chestnuts, quartered (I omit these, but they were apparently a requirement for any salad or casserole in the 50s!)
  • 1 cup golden raisins (soak in pineapple juice for 30 minutes to plump - even raisin haters will like them this way)
  • 2 cups pineapple tidbits (of course the original recipe called for canned pineapple and although I usually prefer fresh I often use canned for this so I can soak the raisins in the juice as above)
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery

(Substitute salad ingredients as you like - I sometime use apricots or dates instead of raisins and/or grapes.)

Whisk dressing together in medium bowl:

  • 1 cup mayonnaise (light mayo works well)
  • 3 tablespoons chutney
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder

Toss dressing with salad and chill at least two hours. Serve chilled on mixed greens. Top with toasted slivered almonds (350 for 3 minutes - don't leave the kitchen because they burn easily).

Try this salad and give your family and friends (not to mention yourself) the royal treatment! It's what we're having for dinner tonight - with popovers, which we may chat about tomorrow.


  1. Oh looks good. I think I'll make it for my Bunco group. Thank you!!

  2. Amy - The best part is that it's better the second day, so you won't have a lot of cooking to do on Bunco day! Have a great week, Leah


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