Wednesday, 25 June 2014

C is for Constance Spry (and Coronation Chicken)

I bought the biography of Constance Spry before Christmas last year, but for some reason have only just gotten 'round to reading it.

Am so glad I did...although it has now led to a few more purchases from the Amazon used book options as was inspired to find out more about her work.

Spry (née Fletcher) was a British educator, florist and author in the mid-20th century.  Her main line was flowers...fashioning bouquets for all the right aristos...although she became a huge advocate of 'Grow Your Own' during the Second World War.

After the war she'd made enough of a name to team up with Rosemary Hume (of Le Cordon Bleu fame) to found a domestic science school at Winkfield Place (now closed).

But it was in 1953 though when Spry really shot to fame when she arranged the flowers for Queen Elizabeth II's coronation, and was involved in the celebratory meal enjoyed by the visiting dignitaries that was cooked by the Winkfield students.

And so, although it was Hume's recipe, its first publication was in the 1956 publication The Constance Spry Cookery Book under the far posher title of Poulet Reine Elizabeth.

And it's an excellent recipe for both a meaty salad and a sandwich filling, but I now use Felicity Cloake's recipe as it's lighter than the original.

  • 1 chicken
  • 6 peppercorns
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 cm piece of ginger, chopped in half
  • Pinch of saffron
  • Pinch of salt
  •  5 tblspns mango chutney
  • 50 grms dried apricots, finely chopped
  • 2 tblspn mild curry powder
  • 2 teaspns Worcestershire Sauce
  • 200 mls mayonnaise
  • 200 mls Greek yoghurt
  • 50 grms flaked almonds, lightly toasted
  • 2 tblspn flatleaf parsley, roughly chopped*
  • S&P
  • Some cos/little gem lettuce leaves
* You can (obviously) use coriander as per the recipe

  1. Poach the chicken in a pan of water with the peppercorns, cinnamon, bay leaves, half the ginger, saffron and some salt
  2. Simmer very gently for 1½ hours or until the chicken's cooked (test the leg meat)
  3. Pour off the liquid, discard the spices and shred the chicken meat
  4. Toast the curry powder in a pan bring out the fragrance and finely chop the remaining ginger
  5. Mix these with the mango chutney and the apricot 
  6. Then add in the Worcestershire Sauce, mayo and yoghurt
  7. Season to taste
  8. Once the chicken is cold, fold into the sauce with the parsley and refrigerate for a couple of hours
  9. Serve on the lettuce and scatter over the toasted almonds at the last minute

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