Summer celebrations

Having celebrated this summer’s solstice down by the river Thames last Sunday evening with friends, summery poems and readings, sparkling wines and a good number of delightful nibbles (the food-fest part of our midsummer revels gets increasingly various as the years go by!), I can confirm Summer is truly here!

Sweet-peas are blooming in abundance and lavender spikes are as fat as I’ve ever seen. It’s also been the best for roses in my garden: hundreds of gorgeous blooms hanging heavy on bended boughs, intoxicating scents, rich reds and pinks, yellows and whites. I’ve even got one called Penny Lane (my maiden name!), which died in the hard winter but has started to grow again (how symbolic!). Hollyhocks are beginning to bloom and purple-red poppies are just forming their seed pods. And…..it’s time for a party!

Here is the most amazing recipe for Cold Curried (Coronation) Chicken:

Cold Curried (Coronation) Chicken

  • Serves 8-10 (so can be doubled or tripled as I have just done for a party)
  • 2x 1.5 kg fresh free-range chicken, with giblets
  • ground black pepper and lemon juice or/and salt
  • 1 celery stick
  • 1 carrot
  • handful of herbs
  • chicken stock cube (organic, free range)
  • 1 lb rice (basmati, long grain, short grain, white or brown- whatever you like best)

Sauce

  • 4 tblspns oil
  • 2 medium onions
  • 2 tblspns good quality curry powder
  • 300mls white wine (fragrant/fruity rather than too dry)
  • 150 ml stock
  • 1 X 411g can apricots strained
  • 600 ml mayonnaise
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 150 ml whipping cream, whipped

Garnish

  • 100g flaked almonds, toasted
  • Fresh coriander

Method

Rinse and wipe the chooks then put them in a roasting tin half filled with water, stock cube, carrot, celery and handful of herbs, sprinkle liberally with pepper and a squirt of lemon juice/salt. Cover the whole tin in foil. Bring to the boil on the top of the cooker then roast/boil in the oven (200+ degrees) for an hour or so.

Cool the chicken in the liquid. Lift out and remove the meat from the bones, taking care to keep some good-sized bits intact. Reserve 150 ml of the stock (it’ll be jellied when cool) for the sauce and use the rest (top up with water if necessary) to cook the rice in. Then let the rice cool.

To make the sauce, heat the oil and fry the onion until transparent and softened, not brown. Add the curry powder (mmm – fab. smell!) and cook for 2 minutes, stirring all the time (don’t risk it sticking/burning at all – it’ll ruin the taste).

Add the wine, stock and season to taste. Cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes, then blend or process until smooth. Strain and cool.

Puree 8/9 of the apricot halves and stir into the sauce.

Stir in the mayonnaise. Add the lemon juice. Fold in the whipped cream and then the chicken meat. Put this gorgeous mixture onto a bed of rice and sprinkle with the toasted almonds (you can mix these into the mixture if you prefer) and sprigs of fresh coriander. Chill in the fridge but make sure it’s not too cold when you serve it. It needs to be just cooler than room temperature (not more than 18 degrees) to allow all the flavours to come alive in the mouth. Enjoy.

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