I made coronation quiche, the royal recipe devised in honor of King Charles III, and I'm not convinced it'll become a national dish
by Mia Jankowicz
Apr 25, 2023, 11:57 AM EDT
A new recipe — coronation quiche — was launched ahead of King Charles III's coronation next month.
I decided, as a quiche novice, to try to make it for myself.
The recipe was easy to follow, but I'm not convinced that Brits will embrace it.
Britain is gearing up for King Charles III to be crowned at Westminster Abbey on May 6.
As part of the celebrations, Buckingham Palace released a new recipe, known as coronation quiche.
The new recipe comes 70 years after Queen Elizabeth II's big day, when coronation chicken — a bright, tasty, curry-inspired affair – was introduced to the tastebuds of the world.
The Queen ate it as part of her coronation luncheon, and it soon became a national classic.
Charles may well be hoping to repeat the same success with coronation quiche, which features a subtle combination of Cheddar cheese, broad beans (fava beans in the US), tarragon and spinach, some of which are seasonal ingredients in the UK right now.
I dutifully set about testing out the recipe. After a few setbacks I managed a decent attempt — though I'd likely make a few adjustments next time around.
I found the taste springy, delicate and herby, but ultimately I'm not sure it will win many hearts.
I spent roughly $13 on ingredients, including a backup shortcrust pastry, which turned out to be a wise decision.
Here's the full ingredients list. I've converted the UK units and ingredients to US ones in parentheses, but there's some rounding involved — so please take this as a loose guide only.
125g (4.4 oz or 1 cup) plain flour
Pinch of salt
25g (0.9 oz) cold butter, diced
25g (0.9 oz) lard
2 tablespoons milk
Or 1 x 250g (8.9 oz) block of ready-made shortcrust pastry
125ml (0.5 cup) milk
175ml (0.75 cup) double (heavy) cream
2 medium eggs
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
Salt and pepper
100g (1 1/4 cup) grated Cheddar cheese
180g (6.4 oz) cooked spinach, lightly chopped
60g (2 oz or 0.25 cup) cooked broad beans (fava beans)
I wondered if the new recipe will take the same place in British people's hearts as coronation chicken, a cold dish that combines chicken with dried fruits and a creamy curry sauce.
Historian Barry Turner wrote that "though simple to prepare, coronation chicken was made exotic by the rarity of fresh curry spices, not to mention whipped cream, in austerity Britain."
It became easier to put together in later years, with simplified spices and the introduction of intensively-reared chicken, he wrote.
Source: "Thorns in the Crown, The Story of the Coronation and What it meant for Britain."
Today you're more likely to find this gloopy, sweet, bright yellow version, for sale as a sandwich filling. It ain't subtle, but it's as good as ever.
Supermarkets in the UK now sell containers of coronation chicken as sandwich fillers, a far cry from its royal start.
I get to work trying to create my pastry.
I was determined to try to make the pastry myself, so I cubed the butter and lard and added it to the sifted flour and salt.
I rubbed it all together to get the "sandy, breadcrumb-like" texture the recipe describes. It's important to start out with cold butter.
Though the recipe seems vegetarian, lard is pork fat, meaning that both veggies and non-pork-eaters won't be able to partake unless they replace it with another ingredient.
Just as I was congratulating myself on my crumby mixture, I got confused, adding the 125ml of milk meant for the filling, rather than the 2 tablespoons meant for the dough.
Pastry attempt No.1 was a write-off.
Attempt No.2, I ended up with a nice ball of dough. I put it in the fridge for 45 minutes and mentally high-fived the King.
I rolled this out in a circle, but even though it was thinner than the required 5mm, it still didn't seem big enough.
This was even more concerning given that the recipe calls for a 20-cm pie tin, and I had only been able to find an 18-cm one.
Anyway, time to push ahead.
Will my pastry attempt No.2 succeed – don't hold your breath.
Blind-baked shortcrust pastry in its tin, with an arrow marking "danger" where the crust has a gap.
Having preheated the oven to 190° C (375° F) I blind baked the pastry with baking beads for 15 minutes.
Sadly it came out as I feared — with dangerous gaps that my filling would surely spill through.
Attempt No.2 was also a bust.
Apparently, I'm not alone. The Guardian's review also recommends that inexperienced chefs make double the amount of pastry.
It was time to bring in the professionals.
Two hours behind schedule I switched to the shop-bought pastry.
I lined the tin, rested it in the fridge for 45 minutes, and once again blind baked it, after which I turned the oven down to 160° C (320° F) as the recipe required.
Getting my filling ingredients ready.
An overhead shot of a chopping board with a bowl of broad beans, a pile of chopped cooked spinach, and a jug with milk, cream, eggs and tarragon for the filling.
The recipe calls for cooked beans, but as I was using tinned beans they seemed soft enough already. I cooked down the spinach and made the mixture of egg, cream, milk, chopped tarragon and seasoning.
I squeezed plenty of water out of the spinach so that it wasn't soggy going in the quiche later.
If I made this again, I'd probably use gently cooked fresh beans.
I added a sprinkling of cheese, then the spinach and the beans, before pouring on the egg mix.
A composite image showing the quiche base layered with cheese, then with the beans and spinach, and then pouring the egg mixture over it.
The recipe calls for Cheddar cheese, which has a wide range of flavor profiles from really mature and sharp, through to very mild.
I opted for a medium strength, though next time I'd consider adding a small amount of stronger cheese.
It was starting to look pretty delicious. Another sprinkle of cheese, and it went in the oven.
An overhead view of the uncooked quiche, with a pot of cheese about to be sprinkled on top.
While ovens vary, the recipe calls for 20-25 minutes cooking time.
While I waited I decide to try on my failed pastry crust as a crown.
It's hard to say if it's more or less convincing as a crown than it was as a pastry crust.
It was finally time to take it out of the oven — I was pretty impressed with how it came out, and it smelled amazing.
A finished Coronation Quiche, on a pale green plate.
Now it was just a matter of waiting a bit for it to cool — cutting a slice immediately would have been messy, as the filling firms up as it cools.
I also made three little tarts using leftover ingredients.
I felt a bit guilty about all the food I'd wasted, so I used the remaining dough to make some little tarts with spare spinach, cheese, and the coronation chicken.
I scarfed them down while I waited for the main attraction to cool.
When I finally sliced into the quiche, it was just the right amount of ooze — unctuous, not runny at all, and not spongy either.
After all that effort, was it a slice fit for a king (or queen)?
And it's finally time to taste.
The quiche tasted warm, and leaned heavily on spring-like flavours — with the herbiness of the tarragon and the full flavor of the spinach dominating.
The egg was creamy and light, bringing it all together, but I couldn't really taste much of the cheese.
It's easy to picture the dish being served at a posh picnic.
I tried the quiche again the next day, and handed it out to neighbors, family, and a plumber who stopped by my place — to mixed reviews.
"It's definitely a step or two up from the standard," the plumber said.
My neighbors enjoyed it, but when pressed said they probably wouldn't seek it out again.
According to my mum, the quiche needed more seasoning, and was "quite posh and bland, or you could say delicate." She recommended more cheese as well.
Given that the British palate is not known for its subtlety, I doubt that people who like a hearty, cheesy quiche would cook this twice.
All in all, I'm not convinced King Charles III's coronation quiche is going to be a national crowd-pleaser that stands the test of time.
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Dean Tudor, Prof Emeritus T'karonto Metropolitan University (formerly Ryerson) School of Journalism Treasurer of Wine Writers' Circle of Canada http://www.deantudor.com