Sunday, 11 October 2009

Leaving Well Alone...

Coronation Chicken is one of those true classic dishes that (almost!) everyone likes and yet people will keep trying to 're-invent' it. Ahem, not unlike Christmas lunch, then. In the same way as I can't abide the annual, seasonal onslaught of 'new alternatives' for Christmas dinner, shoving confit of duck, individual venison-and-cranberry pies and heaven knows what else, I can't stand seeing perfectly delicious dishes 'updated for the 21st century, when no-one is fed up with them in the first place! So here we are, no cubes of fresh mango, no anchovies, no shaved coconut and no cherries. All of which I have seen included in pretenders to the throne of this wonderful dish. Even the anchovies. Yes, I know...

In true Distracted fashion, however, you will find this to be a rather less labour-intensive option, no poaching of whole chickens and no making of mayonnaise. Sometimes, I agree, homemade mayonnaise is very much what you want but I, for one, fail to see the point of all that effort if you will subsequently 'curry' it and obliterate the delicate flavour of the vrai article.

For this outing, our contribution to a Bring & Share Harvest Lunch at church, I cooked the chicken yesterday (breast fillets, on a rack over a roasting pan of water, covered in tinfoil - 25 minutes at 200°c) and chilled it until this morning, when I sliced it it neatly and folded it into the sauce, before plating it up for the buffet table. You can, of course, use any leftover cooked chicken; shredded roast chicken in this sauce does make a rather superior sandwich filling (and see also my Coronation Chicken Rice Salad).

Easy-Option Coronation Chicken

500g cooked chicken, cooled
200g mayonnaise
150g Greek yoghurt
40g mango chutney
30g tikka masala curry paste
toasted flaked almonds
chopped parsley

Slice or shred the chicken, according to what you have and to what degree of finish pleases you. For a celebratory buffet dish, I like to see definite slices; for a more homely affair or a sandwich filler, I'm less fussy. Set aside while you prepare the sauce.

Beat the mayonnaise and yoghurt together, then stir in the mango chutney and the curry paste. If it is anything less than runnily silky, let it down with a little freshly boiled water to reach the desired consistency. It needs to sloppily coat the chicken and ooze very slowly across the plate, not bind it into a sticky, homogeneous mass. Fold in the sliced chicken, and chill this for anything from one to four hours to let the flavour develop. Pile watercress onto a seving dish, then top with the Coronation Chicken. Scatter over some toasted flaked almonds to add that desirable bit of crunch and then chopped fresh parsley to finish the dish.

Cath xx

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