Great British Sandwiches: Royal sandwich fillings

10 January 2012 | 1 Comment

The sandwich is a quintessentially British snack that has even been known to grace the tables of royalty, but which fillings are fit for a Queen?

From a breakfast butty at the local caff to afternoon tea at the Ritz, we all love a sandwich, including royalty. 

Tasty Tradition

Sandwiches were dismissed as pauper’s food until they were popularised by the aristocracy in the 18th century and since then, they’ve been consumed with relish across the social classes. While the royals are spreading their tables with lavish afternoon teas, as Charles and Camilla did at their wedding bash in 2005, the rest of us are chomping through our own creations at street parties and buffets, the traditional British celebratory shindig to mark every coronation, royal wedding and jubilee.

Coronation Classic

The most famous filling considered fit for a Queen is surely coronation chicken. It was invented by Rosemary Hume of the Le Cordon Bleu cookery school (although regularly attributed to the better known Constance Spry) for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. Originally known as ‘Chicken Elizabeth’, the mix of chicken, mayonnaise and curry powder (put simply), was re-named Coronation Chicken in the ‘Constance Spry Cookery Book’ (actually co-authored by Spry and Hume) and the filling subsequently became popular during the remainder of the 1950’s; it was easy to prepare but just a little bit exotic.

Sadly, its popularity led to ubiquity and the poor corrie chicken sandwich is now more likely to be found limp and pre-packaged on a supermarket shelf than it is in all its former glory. This is a shame, because it’s actually rather delicious when made well; I used it to jazz up the remains of my Christmas turkey this year to very good effect.

Edwardian Favourite

A lesser known but simply delicious royal classic, is the meaty creation said to be the favourite of the Edwardian Queen Alexandra, wife of Edward VII. This sandwich was filled with a rich mixture of poached chicken bound with mayonnaise, layered with sliced boiled tongue and cress. The bread was sliced thin in the Edwardian style and spread liberally with mustard-laced butter.

Diamond Jubilee

This year marks the diamond jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II and to celebrate, I’ve revived the dish invented to mark her golden jubilee in 2002, ‘Jubilee Chicken’. It was originally served with a pasta salad, but I think my reworked version makes a particularly sumptuous sandwich filling. It’s a mixture of chicken, marinated in ginger, garlic and lime, poached and mixed with a dressing spiked with fresh chilli and coriander. You can get the recipe here.

If you’re planning a street party or lunch to celebrate the Queen’s diamond jubilee, check out our tips and recipes:

Great British Sandwiches: The Butty

Great British Sandwiches: The Tea Sandwich

Top Tips for Planning a Street Party

Lucy Cufflin’s Coronation Chicken

Lorraine Pascale’s Whoopie Cakes


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