Thursday, July 19, 2012

Fit for a Queen

Last year, the Boston Globe presented a recipe for Coronation Chicken Salad. I had never heard of this before (Queen Elizabeth eats chicken salad?), so I did a bit of research. Turns out that the dish was created for Queen Elizabeth's coronation, but it was not totally original. It in turn was based on another dish that had been served at the King George V's Silver Jubilee.

I was intrigued by what a long history the dish had and how many backstories people could find. The dish is also called Chicken Elizabeth, Chicken Mayonnaise, and a host of other things, but in general it contains chicken, mayonnaise, a bit of curry, and other odds and ends. Early recipes were major productions. They began with a raw chicken and took ages to prepare.

The Globe's recipe is a bit simpler but still plenty complicated for me, because it calls for several ingredients, such as mango chutney, that I did not have on hand last year. The first time I make a recipe, I try to make it as written, so I assembled the various ingredients and went to town. I'm not a huge curry fan, or so I thought, but this salad was downright addictive. I ate it for days, always thinking I should give some to friends and family but then never giving away a forkful. Now, I keep the ingredients on hand.

It is now one of my favorite summer dishes. I made some today. I now am a bit more flexible about the ingredients, because experience has taught me which are crucial (the mango chutney, the curry, the grated ginger) and which can stand a substitution (today, for instance, I used chopped raisins instead of  currants and toasted almonds in place of  toasted pecans). Experience also taught me to invite a friend to join me at dinner. I know that I won't want to give any more away.

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