This post was originally published Nov. 29, 2013.
As we search for new and interesting things to do with our turkey left over from Thursday’s big feast, may I suggest a reinterpretation of a classic?
Anne Willan’s Coronation Chicken, lifted from her charming new memoir, “One Soufflé at a Time,” (St. Martin’s Press; 2013; $27.99), will serve us quite well today. We’ll simply use leftover turkey, and call it a day – a delicious day.
I had a chance to taste this at a recent book signing in a Los Angeles home, at which Anne Willan held court with a gaggle of food writer acolytes.
We swooned as she patiently signed books for us, and regaled us with a few tales from her storied history. An English girl who overcame the closed male world of French cuisine to found and run the legendary La Varenne Cooking School, Willan tells a story that includes some of the food-world greats – her friend Julia Child, James Beard, Simone Beck, Craig Claiborne, Richard Olney — with a few unexpected names thrown in (how about Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer?).
This woman has lived!
I couldn’t stay away from the buffet table. The Coronation Chicken — so named because it was served at the young Queen Elizabeth’s coronation — particularly called my name.
Lightly and expertly curried, this is a refined yet bright dish, and for today’s party purposes, the chicken was shredded and served as a cracker-topper or dip, instead of the Queen Elizabeth way of larger pieces napped in sauce.
Since it would be heresy to make it with chicken today of all days, let’s do double duty and use our turkey.
I’ve taken the liberty of adapting her recipe to suit today’s turkey and our time constraints (sorry Anne, forgive us but we aren’t going to peel the cherry tomatoes!), and then also giving you her original should you wish to try it that way some time with chicken.
If you would like her original recipe, which calls for chicken, here it is. Enjoy your poultry, either way you prefer.
Recipe: Anne Willan’s Original Coronation Chicken Elizabeth
Summary: Anne Willan says: “This chicken in a sweet curry mayonnaise, together with the roast Chicken Philippe in a Port wine vinaigrette transports me back to the early 1950s. Today I like to use olive oil for the cheerful tomato salad that accompanies the chicken, though a mild vegetable oil would have been standard in England at the time. Be sure to serve the salad at room temperature.”
- 3- to 4-pound/1.5 kg whole chicken
- Paprika, for sprinkling
To poach the chicken
- 1 onion, quartered
- 1 carrot, quartered
- 2 stalks celery
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon whole peppercorns
- 2 teaspoons salt
For the curry mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons curry powder
- 1/4 cup/60 ml tomato juice
- 1/4 cup/60 ml red wine
- 2 tablespoons apricot jam
- 1 1/4 cups/300 ml mayonnaise
- Salt and pepper
For the cherry tomato salad
- 1 pound/450 g cherry tomatoes
- Vinaigrette dressing made with 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, 1/2 cup/125 ml olive oil, salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons chopped tarragon
String for tying
- To poach the chicken: Truss the bird and set it on its back in a deep pan. Add the onion, carrot, celery, bay leaves, peppercorns, salt, and enough water to cover the bird. Bring to a boil, skimming occasionally. Cover the pan and simmer until the bird is tender and the juices no longer run pink when the thigh is pricked with a skewer, 1-1 1/4 hours. Let the chicken cool to tepid in the broth, then drain it. Keep the broth for soup.
- Meanwhile make the curry mayonnaise: heat the oil in a small saucepan and fry the onion over medium heat until soft but not brown. Add the curry powder and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the tomato juice and red wine and simmer until the mixture is pasty, 2-3 minutes. Stir in the apricot jam and work the mixture through a sieve into a bowl (I often don’t bother to sieve as I like the extra texture). Whisk in the mayonnaise — the sauce should coat the back of an upturned spoon. Taste and adjust the seasoning; cover and set it aside.
- For the tomato salad: to peel the tomatoes, slash the skin of each one with a knife and put them in a bowl. Cover them generously with boiling water and leave until the skin starts to split, 5-10 seconds depending on ripeness. Drain them and cover with cold water. Peel the tomatoes and put them in a bowl. Make the vinaigrette dressing and toss with the tomatoes. Taste, adjust the seasoning, cover and chill the salad.
- To finish, discard the trussing strings from the chicken and carve it into 8 pieces, discarding the skin. Arrange the chicken along one side of an oval platter and coat the pieces with mayonnaise. Sprinkle them lightly with paprika. Stir the tarragon into the tomatoes, taste again for seasoning and pile them beside the chicken.
Recipe from “One Soufflé at a Time,” by Anne Willan (St. Martin’s Press; 2013)
Preparation time: 45 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour
Number of servings (yield): 4
Culinary tradition: English
If you like this recipe and would like to save it, pin the image below to your Pinterest board.
Disclosure: The publisher sent a copy of the book for review.