Diamond Jubilee poached chicken

The tradition of marking a monarch’s reign with a bespoke dish of cold chicken hatched itself with the first iteration of Jubilee Chicken. It was originally created to mark the Silver Jubilee of George V in 1935. This combination of cold chicken, curried spices and mayonnaise was born when muted Indian flavours still represented the height of exoticism.

It’s a curious meddling which persisted as both an inspiration point and a hand me down when florist Constance Spry and chef Rosemary Hume re branded it as Coronation Chicken and served it to the foreign guests at HRH Elizabeth II’s Coronation on June 2, 1953.

In the years that have passed it has served as a happy friend to many a rice salad, finger sandwich, cold pastry cup, or filling for cucumber crowns – perfect as canapes (recipe here).  Then 10 years ago another celebratory cold chicken dish was designed in honour of HRH’s Golden Jubilee.  It turned down the volume on the curry, abandoned the pureed apricots and left us with a pale combination of  fowl, ginger, lime, creme fraiche and yogurt.  This version didn’t quite grip the public’s imagination in the same manner as the original.

Yet surely it’s time for people to take a moment to think about what the object of celebration might enjoy. This is one version of Diamond Jubilee Chicken that answers that brief.

Her Majesty reportedly starts each day with toast and marmalade –  Coopers of Oxford holds the Royal Warrant for providing the topping to her toast. She’s also said to enjoy a gin and Dubbonet at the end of a long day.

This version clutches those flavours close. First the chicken’s décolletage is spread with marmalade. Orange and lemon are also present and accounted for in the poaching liquid- the rest of which is flavoured with the botanicals of gin, and just enough water to bath the legs of the bird.

The dressing is a slurry of yogurt, marmalade thinned in gin and as much hot English mustard as you can bare.

The chicken should be poached as gently as possible. No hasty productions necessary when you’re taking a long weekend to celebrate 60 years of civic duty. Beyond that the longer and slower the poach, the silkier the meat will be. After it’s cooled the flesh should take on a gentle lilt of citrus and juniper. The sauce should be sprightly and light, with a little twang of citrus and mustard heat.

This chicken is festive when served in a garland of salad; particularly if it includes mint, cucumber, watercress and almonds. It’s also perfect if you fancy shredding the meat and using the dressing to bind it together into sandwich fillings with cucumber and watercress.

This Jubilee weekend make it and go and watch the boat flotilla down the Thames. Take it for a picnic in the lush green parks of London. Or stay at home, carve the bird and then raise a glass to sixty years of service.

Long live the Queen.

Diamond Jubilee Chicken

Serves 2 -4 with salad. Serves 4-8 in sandwiches.


1 heavy bottom casserole pan/Le Creuset that will snugly fit a chicken. 1 vegetable peeler.


1.2 kg happy free range chicken
1 orange
3/4 cup gin
2 1/2 cups water (or enough to cover the legs of the chicken in the pot)
1/2 lemon
2 black peppercorns
2 garlic cloves
1.5 tablespoons of marmalade

Watercress, mint leaves, cucumber, sugar snap beans and flaked almond salad to serve

1/2 cup of natural yogurt or creme fraiche
1.5 teaspoons hot English mustard
1.5 teaspoons of marmalade
1 tablespoon of gin

Here’s how we roll

1) Untruss the chicken and trim the legs into neat drumsticks so it will snugly fit in a Le Creuset or similar braising pot.

2) Press heavily on the back of the chicken to break the spine. It will make a very satisfying noise. This will allow the chicken to sit flatter in the pot.

3) Lift the skin of the chicken gently away from the breast. Place half of the marmalade under the skin over the breast. Smear the rest over the skin on the breast.

4) Add the gin to the bottom of the pot, alone with the lemon cut in half, half an orange, two garlic cloves in their skin crushed with a knife and two pepper corns.Add the chicken (breast side up) and enough water to cover the lower part of the legs. Leave the breasts poking out, as if it was lolling in a chest deep bath.  You want the poaching liquid to have a subtle note of gin- so if you’ve had to add more water because your pot is larger, top it up with a splash or two more gin.

5) Bring the stock to a light shimmering simmer, then turn the heat down to low, clamp the lid on and leave to braise for 40-50 minutes until the breast is opaque and the legs pull aside from the spine.

6) Leave the chicken to cool in the liquid, with the lid on. If you plan on serving the next day, you can keep the chicken in the broth in the fridge- the flavour will keep steeping into it.

7) Before serving drain the chicken, and peel the skin from the chicken.  Carve the meat into slices for salad, or shred it for sandwich fillings.

8 ) To make the dressing whisk together the marmalade and gin until it’s a loose slurry. Combine with the yogurt or creme fraiche and the hot English mustard. Add as much mustard as you dare (though keep tasting all the time).

 Serving options


Serve the chicken pieces with the dressing on the side and a salad of watercress, ribbons of cucumber made with a vegetable peeler, mint, baby spinach and watercress leaves and some flaked almonds. Season the chicken well with both salt and pepper before drizzling over the dressing.


Combine the shredded chicken with salt and pepper, enough dressing to bind it and make sandwiches on brown or white bread with thin slices of cucumber and some watercress.

Other Jubilee Chicken interpretations:

Nigella Lawson’s Chicken, mango and chilli salad

Jamie Oliver’s Jubilee Chicken

Diana Henry’s Jubilee Chicken

Any others….?

  1. This looks wonderful!

    I remember growing up in the UK, Coronation Chicken sandwiches were one of my absolutely favorite things. It’s nice to take a little trip down memory lane!

  2. Ooooh that’s fascinating, had NOOO idea Coronation Chook was just a rebrand of Jubilee Chicken from old George!!!

  3. I’m a big fan of Coronation Chicken sandwiches. They’re one of those retro things that, like corned beef, cheese and pickle sandwiches, will always hold a place in my heart 🙂 Thanks for the tip on how to cook the chicken – my poached chicken turns out like rubber, and now I know why!

  4. Oh this is perfect for the celebrations! I’m a huge fan of coronation chicken and I think that I would adore the diamond jubilee version! 😀

  5. I wonder why I feel like a poached chicken sandwich just about now?

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