Hundred-Year-Old Chicken and Ham Turnovers Recipe

Both a century ago and now, cooks have asked the question, “What should I do with the leftovers?”

I recently found a hundred-year-old recipe for Chicken and Ham Turnovers that is a wonderful way to use leftovers. The turnovers were yummy and easy to make, and the accompanying sauce added just the right amount of zing.

Here’s the original recipe:

Source: American Cookery (October, 1916)
Source: American Cookery (October, 1916)

Since the recipe indicates that a “”buttercup biscuit” or a “rich biscuit dough in which the yolk of an egg is used,”  I searched for a hundred-year-old buttercup biscuit recipe. I failed to find one, so I went with a biscuit recipe I found and added an egg yolk (and reduced the milk a little to compensate). Here’s the old biscuit recipe:

Source: Larking Housewives Cook Book (1917)

When I made this dish, it seemed a tad salty so when I updated the recipe for modern cooks, I reduced the salt. Here’s the updated recipe:

Chicken and Ham Turnovers

  • Servings: 2-3 servings
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print


1 cup cooked chicken, diced into 1/4 inch pieces

1/3 cup cooked ham, diced into 1/4 inch pieces

Biscuit Pastry

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

3 teaspoons baking powder

2 tablespoons shortening or lard

2 tablespoons butter, softened

1 egg yolk

1/2 – 2/3 cup milk


2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons flour

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon ketchup

1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1 cup chicken broth

Preheat oven to 400° F. Combine diced chicken and ham in a bowl. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour and baking powder. Cut in the shortening and butter using a pastry blender or two knives going in opposite directions.  Stir in egg yolk and 1/2 cup milk. The dough should cling together and be of a consistency that it can be rolled. If needed, add additional milk. On a prepared surface, roll the dough out and cut into rounds approximately 5 inches in diameter. (I used an inverted cereal bowl to cut the rounds.)  Place a heaping tablespoon of the meat mixture on one side of each round, brush water on the edge of round, fold over and press edges together. Put on rounds on a baking sheet, and brush with milk. Put in oven and bake until the top is lightly browned (about 20 minutes). Remove from oven and serve with sauce.

While the turnovers are baking, make the sauce by melting the butter in a saucepan; stir in the flour and pepper. Add the ketchup and Worcestershire sauce, then  slowly add the chicken broth while stirring continuously. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat.


39 thoughts on “Hundred-Year-Old Chicken and Ham Turnovers Recipe

  1. This seems like a midwestern version of empanadas, which I dearly love. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a chicken/ham combo like this, but it makes sense. Chicken alone might be a little bland, and require other ingredients to make the turnovers tasty.

    1. It’s definitely a nice way to use left-over meat – though I found that it took a bit of organization on my part to have BOTH left-over chicken and left-over ham at the same time. 🙂

    1. A hundred years ago, people generally ate most meals at home. and cooks often prepared three meals a day. They definitely valued recipes that were easy to prepare..

      1. Not that long ago, my mom prepared food similar to those. She was a Native New Yorker who relocated to the Catskills in the late 60’s. I remember eating food prepared like this in the 70’s and 80’s. Even now, I prepare easy meals and use ingredients I have on hand.

    1. I also was surprised that the filling was entirely meat – though it worked fine. The “smokiness” of the ham give the filling a nice flavor. That said, I think that adding a little of the sauce to the filling would be a delightful addition.

    1. It is a nice way to use left-overs. In many ways this recipe seems unexpectedly modern. If I hadn’t found this recipe in a hundred-year-old magazine I wouldn’t have guessed how old it was.

    1. Thank you! I’m always in awe of the incredible food presentations on your blog, and I’m honored that you thought this presentation was “absolutely gorgeous.”

  2. Holy cats, that looks delicious! The instant I saw the picture I started wondering if I had any ham leftovers in the freezer! I always have chicken on hand. This one is a definite keeper, Sheryl! Thank you!

    1. It’s wonderful to hear that you like my food presentations. I’m always trying to improve my skills. (You should see some of my early food pictures on this blog – they definitely had limitation.)

      1. LOL My photos were originally taken on my phone and I didn’t know anything about fixing them. Now I use my camera and Photoshop but I’m still not very good.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s