Monday, August 16, 2021

Coronation Chicken from the New Key West Food Critic Mystery


What I love most when a cozy mystery series I follow comes out with a new edition is getting to return to a setting I enjoy and catching up with characters who feel like friends. That’s why I was a bit nervous when I learned Lucy Burdette set her new Key West Food Critic Mystery in Scotland instead of the southern-most point of the United States. I enjoyed my visit to Key West a few years ago, and her books allowed me to make return trips without the airfare. I also visited Scotland many, many years ago and enjoyed my time there as well, so I was hopeful. Still, would her characters be as appealing adventuring through the northern United Kingdom as in southern Florida?

I shouldn’t have worried. 

A Scone of Contention was an excellent read. Food critic Hayley Snow brings her love of food, quirky nature, new husband Nathan, her mother-in-law, and her beloved 80-year-old friend Miss Gloria along to Scotland. Oh, did I mention she and Nathan are on their honeymoon? Though it’s crowded for romance, it makes perfect sense with this group of characters.

“The truth is, this vacation can’t come soon enough. I don’t care how many kooky relatives are cramming themselves into our honeymoon or how bad the weather is, or how much golf you have to play. I need a change of scenery. And some time with my new husband.” (Haley said the night before they departed.)

Hayley and her loved ones connect with Nathan’s sister Vera, her husband, and her co-workers. The plan is to explore some of Scotland’s iconic mystic places. These spots are said to be where the veil thins between Heaven and Earth. Some are also the setting for the series Outlander and Game of Thrones. (How Key West-like is that!) 

At a dinner party, one of Vera’s friends claims someone tried to poison her. Then the group witnesses a tourist fall to his death. None of the friends admit to knowing the dead man, but Hayley thinks they’re not telling the whole truth. Soon she’s on the hunt for a killer before he (or she) strikes again. 

Of course, with Hayley being a tried and true foodie, lots of delicious meals and recipes are featured in the book. At first, I wanted to make one of the scone recipes, but the outside temperature near 100 degrees discouraged me from turning on the oven. Instead, I made the recipe for Coronation Chicken. 

Being a dedicated anglophile, I’d heard of this recipe before. Le Cordon Bleu cooking school founder Rosemary Hume created the dish in 1953 to serve at a banquet celebrating the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. Since the UK was still dealing with post-WWII rationing at that time, this salad features easy-to-get ingredients with an exotic touch of curry. Most recipes for this dish call for mango chutney and diced dried apricots. Burdette switches it up by using apricot jam and diced fresh mango, which to me made it seem more Key West friendly. Also, I’m more likely to have apricot jam in the pantry and mango in my freezer. (The frozen mango worked perfectly. Just let it thaw first.) 

Like the book, the recipe didn’t disappoint either. It made a refreshing chicken salad with an exotic taste from the curry powder, a slight sweetness from the fruit and jam, and some crunch from the almonds. I enjoyed it on its own with crackers on the side and as a sandwich made with hearty multi-grain bread. (In the book's recipe, Burdette serves it on baked potatoes.) 

If you love cozy mysteries, especially ones filled with tasty food, then I highly recommend you jump into this series. I’m already anticipating the next edition! 

Yield: 6 to 8
Author: Linda Ditch
Coronation Chicken

Coronation Chicken

This recipe is adapted from one in the book A Scone of Contention by Lucy Burdette. The dish was originally served at a banquet for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. This version has a Key West twist with the use of fresh mango.


  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons curry powder (I used McCormick)
  • 1/2 cup diced red onion
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons apricot jam
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 3 cups shredded cooked chicken (I used 2 poached boneless-skinless chicken breasts)
  • Diced fresh mango
  • Slivered almonds
  • Salt, to taste


  1. In a non-stick skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in the curry powder and onion and cook until the onion starts to soften. Add the tomato paste, chicken broth, water, and lemon juice. Allow the mixture to simmer until it has thickened and reduced by about half. Stir in the apricot jam and then set aside to cool.
  2. In a large bowl, whip the cream until stiff. Whisk in the mayonnaise and the cooled curry mixture. Fold in the chicken and however much mango and almonds you desire. Season with salt, if necessary.
  3. Keep in the refrigerator until ready to serve. It tastes great on top of a green salad, served with crackers, or as a sandwich.


  1. Being a dedicated Anglophile I can of course totally believe this review since it's written by a fellow Anglophile! Can't wait to actually make the Coronation Chicken which I've read about for years but have never made. And I'm smitten with cozy mysteries set in Great Britain.

    1. Linda, each time I saw something about coronation chicken I would think, “I should make that.” I’m glad I finally did!