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Chicken Asquith

Adrian Bailey attributes this Edwardian recipe to the fictitious Mrs. Bridges in his lovely Upstairs, Downstairs Cookery Book (New York 1974). Like any number of Edwardian culinary innovations, this one is named for a major contemporary figure. Three or four servings, depending on the appetite of your diners (two servings if they are of Edwardian bent).

Upstairs-Downstairs-Cookery-Book002.jpg-about a dozen crushed juniper berries
-a few sprigs of fresh rosemary
-a chicken
-3 Tablespoons softened unsalted butter
-4-5 oz medium dry Madeira (like Verdelho or Rainwater)
-1¼ cups chicken stock
-2 teaspoons Kitchen Bouquet (optional)
-2 more Tablespoons unsalted butter
-2 Tablespoons flour (preferably Wondra)

Preheat the oven to 375°.

  1. Shove the juniper berries and rosemary into the cavity of the chicken, then smear it with the softened butter and shower it with a good rain of coarse salt (like Malden)
  2. Roast the chicken until done, usually in about 40 minutes.
  3. Put the chicken on a new baking dish and tent it with foil while it rests.

Increase the oven temperature to 450°.

  1. Set the oven dish that held the chicken on the stove and whisk the Madeira and stock into the pan drippings and debris. Fish the juniper berries out of the chicken and add them to the dish, then turn the heat to high and reduce the liquid by half. Add the Kitchen Bouquet, cook for a few more seconds and turn off the heat.
  2. Strain the sauce and scrape out the dish.
  3. Return the empty chicken dish to the burner on medium heat and melt the butter, then whisk the flour into the butter until it loses its raw tone but does not color to make a roux.
  4. Slowly pour the reduced stock mixture into the roux, whisking constantly, until the sauce obtains a smooth and uniform texture.
  5. Add cayenne at your discretion and check the seasoning: You should not need any. Keep the sauce warm.
  6. Return the chicken to the oven for a few minutes to brown and crisp the skin, then carve and serve with the sauce.


-The innovation here is the juniper, rosemary and fortified wine, which ordinarily would have accompanied ground, or furred, game like venison rather than domesticated poultry.

-If you do not have any Madeira, or are unfortunate enough to dislike it, use a medium dry Sherry like Amontillado, although Bailey, through ‘Mrs. Bridges,’ suggests sweet Cream Sherry. We find it cloying.