Consommé Georges VI
Strong chicken consommé with the flavour enhanced by adding an “old rooster or boiling hen” (according to the Royal Chef) that had been cut into pieces and browned in the oven (named in honour of the King)
Rosettes de Saumon à l’Ecossaise
Rosettes of poached salmon dressed in an Écossaise sauce made from creamed green beans
Chaudfroid de Volaille Reine Elizabeth
Cold dish of reformed whole chickens where the breasts have been prepared and then reformed to the chicken carcass with the entire dish covered in a white chaud-froid sauce, decorated with truffle slices and shaped egg-white and then sealed in pink aspic jelly: the breasts having first been stuffed with a tomatoe mousse before being reattached to the carcass (named in honour of the Queen).
Jambon d’York braise Sandringham
Braised ham steaks (cured on the Sandringham estate)
Cailles rôties sur Canapés à la Royale
A cold dish of boned quails (served with the heads re-attached) stuffed with pâté de foie-gras before being coated in a brown chaud-froid sauce, decorated with truffle slices; and coated in game aspic jelly and served on a canapé of crushed pineapple flavoured ice
A salad of endives, artichoke bottoms, green pimentos, chopped peeled tomatoe and chopped egg white
Asperges Vertes, Sauce Mousseline
Asparagus spears dressed with a mousseline sauce made from half parts cream and Hollandaise sauce
Biscuits glacés Reine Mary
Frosted biscuits named after Queen Mary
Corbeilles de Friandises
Edible baskets (made from spun sugar) filled with chocolates, crystalised fruits, nougats and fruit jellies
Quiche de Lorraine
Small quiches with a thin slice of gruyere cheese sandwiched between the bacon and egg-and-cream filling
King George VI and Queen Elizabeth in their Coronation robes - May 1937.
“Cut the heads of neatly” are words, in a revolutionary bygone era, that would have caused a degree of consternation when making the arrangements for a King and Queen.
But these were not the acrid utterances of some malcontent revolutionary. Instead, they were the words from the royal chef, Monsieur Renee Roussin, as he provided a step-by-step guide to preparing the quails served at the Coronation banquets for King George VI and Queen Elizabeth.
As the world’s press was aflutter with every detail of Their Majesties imminent Coronation in 1937 - right down to the secret recipe for the anointing oil - the royal chefs were distracted with an intricate recipe for the stuffed quails that were to be served looking life-like at the Buckingham Palace banquets.
After the quail heads had been ‘neatly’ removed, the royal chef recounted how they would later need to be “re-joined to the breasts, being held in place by concealed wooden toothpicks”.
By now the quail carcass had been boned; roasted; stuffed with pâté de foie-gras; coated in a chaud-froid sauce; decorated with truffle slices; and glazed in aspic jelly. But there was still a finishing culinary flourish required.
“It is usual to make eyes for the heads by putting a minute round of truffle in the centre of a little circle of white of egg”, remembered Chef Roussin. The quails were then arranged on a canapé of shimmering crushed pineapple ice and served to the peckish royal guests.
The King arrived at this dinner handsomely dressed in the uniform of the Admiral of the Fleet while Queen Elizabeth was dressed in gold brocade with a botanical leaf pattern, topped off with a diamond and ruby tiara.
The King’s mother, Queen Mary, arrived separately with Queen Maud of Norway. Such were the enthusiastic crowds gathered outside the palace that the “mounted police had to force a passage clear for her car”, reported The Times.
At this dinner the King and Queen played host to 450 guests squeezed into the State Ballroom and the adjoining supper room. Cabinet Ministers, the diplomatic corps and representatives from the dominions and colonies were all honoured with a place setting at this ten-course banquet
Three dishes on the menu were dedicated to the royal family with the soup named after the King; and the iced-biscuits accompanying the dessert named in honour of the King’s mother, Queen Mary.
The third dish dedicated to the royal family was Chaudfroid de Volaille Reine Elizabeth, named in honour of the Queen who would be crowned alongside her husband. This dish was as equally complicated as the quails, with the breasts being removed from the carcass before being stuffed with tomatoe mousse and then re-attached. The entire bird was then coated in chaud-froid sauce, magnificently decorated with truffles and herbs; and finally sealed in aspic.
The Coronation festivities for George VI went off swimmingly compared with those of his grandfather, Edward VII, almost 35 years earlier in 1902. Just two days before the King’s planned anointing, the Coronation was cancelled after an attack of appendicitis forced him on to the operating table.
Some dishes could be preserved for the rescheduled coronation in August. The “caviar could be kept on ice”, recounted one of the King’s cooks, Gabrielle Tschumi, and the “jellies were melted down and stored in magnum champagne bottles” until “eventually there were two hundred and fifty champagne bottles of claret and liqueur jelly ranged along the wall of one corner in the kitchen”.
But, alas, the pheasant consommé and the breasts of snipe stuffed with truffles and foie-gras that had been deglazed in a truffle fumet with Madeira, could not be preserved. And so what had been planned as the delectably decadent offerings of the King’s coronation banquet, found their way through a most deserving little door in Whitechapel: the Sisters of the Poor charity. “It was sad to think we would never know how the dishes we had laboured over for more than a fortnight had been received”, recounted Tschumi.
Coronation of King George VI & Queen Elizabeth
Painting by Frank O Salisbury, showing the interior of Westminster Abbey during the Coronation of Their Majesties.
(Photo: Royal Collection Trust / © His Majesty King Charles III, 2022)