Monday 9 June 2014

The original coronation chicken is a classic fifties' style British salad that, in my humble opinion, deserved to be brought back... and quickly. When the Turkey Farmers of Canada gave me my May/ June brief, they asked for a salad, and I knew almost immediately that I was going to be riffing on this very delicious, lightly spiced salad that I was addicted to during my time in England.

Coronation salad has an interesting history. It was originally created by Rosemary Hume, the co-founder of the famous Constance Spry Cordon Bleu School of Cookery in London. The recipe was developed in 1953 in honour of Queen Elizabeth II's coronation, and was served at the royal banquet. Food historians believe that the recipe was riffed off another, older recipe for 'Silver Jubilee Chicken', a creation of curry, mayonnaise and cold chicken, served in 1935 at the banquet for George V. It was updated again for the Queen's Golden Jubilee, but that version never eclipsed the original. The recipe for coronation salad first appears in Constance Spry and Rosemary Hume's classic 1956 tome, 'The Constance Spry Cookery Book', and is still found in revised editions of this book.

The problem with coronation salad is the incredibly terrible versions that were sold in supermarkets in soggy sandwiches. Its enough to put anyone off this salad. However, I went back to the original recipe, and the first time I made it, I was shocked at how different it tasted to the cardboard versions I was used to to. It was sweet, tangy, with a delicate nutty flavour, and just the lightest touch of heat in the end. I could immediately see why this salad was a huge hit when it was created.

I have simplified my version of the recipe, but have stayed very close to the flavours of the original version. I like using turkey thighs in this recipe, because they stay moist during the poaching and I love the flavour of darker meat. Adding herbs and peppercorns to the poaching liquor adds a light, subtle flavour to the turkey, and its deliciously succulent. If you want, you can very easily substitute turkey breast for thighs. For this salad, I shredded the meat into larger chunks, which makes it perfect for a substantial main course. You can also add a summer twist to the salad by rubbing your turkey thighs with a titch of curry powder and salt and grilling them, which adds a fantastic, smoky note to the salad.

The key to the perfect salad dressing is to use a really fragrant curry powder, and my homemade Madras curry powder was just perfect. If you are using store bought, I recommend using a mild version of Madras curry powder. I also used mango chutney instead of the original apricot puree. You can pretty much substitute any spicy fruit chutney instead. I also lightened the dressing by using light mayonnaise and yogurt.

This recipe makes enough for four main course salads. This salad is also amazing in sandwiches, so if you prefer to use it as a sandwich filling, I recommend shredding the meat into smaller pieces. The toasted almonds add a satisfying crunch and sweetness to the salad too. You can also use raisins, if you want, though this coronation turkey salad has so much flavour packed into it, I don't think you really need them. 

So what are you waiting for? Head on over to the Tasty Turkey website to download your recipe now!

Click for the recipe - Coronation Turkey Salad 


And as usual, if you have any questions, mosey on back and I'll be more than happy to answer them for you :) Enjoy!


  1. Rosemary Hume was a very fine creator and collector of recipes. She simply isn't celebrated enough today. I have an early copy of the CS cookery book and I still make some of the recipes from it and use it for inspiration. (Although I confess that one of the reasons that I enjoy it is that some of the text in the early editions has become unintentionally hilarious with the passing of time). You're absolutely right that the original is a great classic and that many (probably most) of the imitations that turn up from time to time are truly terrible. Many thanks for reviving the recipe and reminding us how good it can be.

    1. I'd actually forgotten how good the original version was, Phil. And its interesting that even though it was Rosemary Hume who created the recipe, its usually Constance Spry who gets the credit for it. Either way, its a classic and I love it.

  2. What a great idea to use turkey in this classic - it looks wonderful.

    1. Thank you Mary. The whole salad is lighter, but the flavour is still amazing :)

  3. I grew up eating traditional British food and the only time I ever had anything even slightly spicy was when we had coronation chicken. It does have a bad reputation but i love it. I like how the raisins have been left out and you've used yoghurt in the dressing in your variation..

  4. Mouthwatering salad, i would love to taste it.


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