2023 Coronation Quiche sparks debate

Coronation Quiche with spinach, broad beans and tarragon. Image: Official Coronation website

In April 2023, as the UK began to work itself into a fever about the imminent coronation of King Charles III, Buckingham Palace made a significant announcement. The official dish for the event was to be the Coronation Quiche. Presumably, it was to be consumed by the King and Queen Consort on the Big Day, as part of an official banquet.  It would also be served at a series of community “Big Lunches” and every family in the hallowed isles could make their own Coronation Quiche, scoffing it down (the Palace suggested) with boiled new potatoes and green salad.

Charles is, of course, our king too – although for how long remains to be seen. So the Australian media immediately began to spread the word. In one week I received three invitations from different ABC radio stations to express my thoughts on quiche in general and the Coronation version in particular. I advanced the theory that the choice reflected the age of the royal couple, who would have enjoyed their early adulthood in the 1970s, when quiche was in its heyday.  Not daggy, but cool.

Many have been scathing about the recipe choice. Broadcaster and former politician Nigel Farage described it as  “the dullest, most uninspiring and most politically correct dish that has ever been produced for a major occasion”. He took issue with the dish, in part, because it was “vegetarian”, despite the fact that the recipe for the pastry contains lard.  Not veggie at all.  Here in Oz, Thomas Mitchell, in The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald said it was “gross”. Many commented on the uncomfortable timing of promoting an egg dish at the time of a national egg shortage in Britain. Others complained that it was French.

Australia’s Matt Preston defended the quiche but wasn’t as kind about the other official coronation recipes, which included an eggplant dish dressed with yoghurt, a roast rack of lamb, prawn tacos with pineapple salsa and a trifle with ginger custard and strawberry jelly.

Coronation Quiche follows on from other royal dishes. For Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation, it was Coronation Chicken or, more properly, Poulet Reine Elizabeth. This was embraced by the Brits, despite being a dubious concoction of cold chicken, chopped dried apricots and curried mayonnaise. Quiche has even featured in previous royal menus, appearing as the final course in a banquet to celebrate the silver jubilee of George V, Charles’s great-grandfather. The recipe for that Quiche de Lorraine was likely the first quiche recipe to be published in Australia.

Coronation Quiche Recipe

A deep quiche with a crisp, light pastry case and delicate flavours of Spinach, Broad Beans and fresh Tarragon. Eat hot or cold with a green salad and boiled new potatoes – perfect for a Coronation Big Lunch!

x1 20cm Flan Tin
Serves 6

Ingredients

Pastry

125g plain flour
Pinch of salt
25g cold butter, diced
25g lard
2 tablespoons milk
Or 1 x 250g block of ready-made shortcrust pastry

Filling

125ml milk
175ml double cream
2 medium eggs
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
Salt and pepper
100g grated cheddar cheese
180g cooked spinach, lightly chopped
60g cooked broad beans or soya beans

Method

To make the pastry…

Sieve the flour and salt into a bowl; add the fats and rub the mixture together using your fingertips until you get a sandy, breadcrumb-like texture. Add the milk a little at a time and bring the ingredients together into a dough. Cover and allow to rest in the fridge for 30-45 minutes.

Lightly flour the work surface and roll out the pastry to a circle a little larger than the top of the tin and approximately 5mm thick.

Line the tin with the pastry, taking care not to have any holes or the mixture could leak. Cover and rest for a further 30 minutes in the fridge.

Preheat the oven to 190°C. Line the pastry case with greaseproof paper, add baking beans and bake blind for 15 minutes, before removing the greaseproof paper and baking beans. Reduce the oven temperature to 160°C.

Beat together the milk, cream, eggs, herbs and seasoning.

Scatter 1/2 of the grated cheese in the blind-baked base, top with the chopped spinach and beans and herbs, then pour over the liquid mixture. If required gently give the mixture a delicate stir to ensure the filling is evenly dispersed but be careful not to damage the pastry case.

Sprinkle over the remaining cheese. Place into the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until set and lightly golden.

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