‘Hen de la Wake’ or ‘Hen of the Wake’ – i.e. the hen to be eaten during the Fair.
This is a late version of a very old recipe. It was collected near Wigan, about 1900, in its present form. It is a feast-day dish, dating from the Middle Ages, as good to eat as it is gay to look at with its white meat, black stuffing and yellow and green trimmings. To be eaten cold.
Reserve 6 prunes for decoration. Mix all the other ingredients togethei and stuff the fowl, both breast and inside. Sew up breast flap and draw together skin at vent. Place in a large saucepan of water to which the wine vinegar and brown sugar have been added. Simmer for 4 hours and allow to get cold in the stock.
While the chicken is cooling, make the lemon sauce.
Mix the cornflour with the stock and bring to the boil, stirring in the juice of 2 lemons as you do so. Season and add grated zest of 1 lemon and allow to boil for 2 minutes. Allow to cool slightly and stir in well-beaten whole eggs, holding the pan off the fire. Beat till thick and creamy and on no account allow to boil again. Allow to get cold.
Pour over cold chicken and decorate with grated lemon zest, quarters of lemon and halves of reserved prune and sprigs of parsley.
Carve with a very sharp knife. The white chicken meat and black prune stuffing and the sharp bright yellow sauce look and taste delicious.
©1975 The Estate of Elizabeth Ayrton