I don’t see many recipes for casseroles when browsing through hundred-year-old cookbooks. There are a few casserole recipes in 1922 cookbooks, but they didn’t become really popular until the mid-20th century. In any case, I was intrigued by a casserole recipe that I found in a hundred-year-old cookbook for Escalloped Celery with Chicken, and decided to give it a try.
Though I made this recipe from scratch, the Escalloped Celery with Chicken brought back vague memories of creamed chicken and celery dishes I ate as a child that were made using cream of celery soup. In any case, I enjoyed this dish. It was tasty and made a nice casserole.
Here’s the original recipe:
I used a little less salt than was called for in the original recipe. It called for boiling the celery in water with 1 teaspoon salt, plus an additional 3/4 teaspoon salt in the sauce. I decided that an additional 1/2 teaspoon would be plenty – and the recipe tasted fine. I also thought that 500° F. seemed very high – so I baked at 425° F. until the bread crumbs were lightly browned and it was hot and bubbly (about 15 minutes). The recipe says it serves four. In my opinion, if this is served as the main dish, that it is a little skimpy for four, so I listed it as 3-4.
Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:
Escalloped Celery with Chicken
2 cups celery, diced into 1 inch pieces
1 teaspoon salt + 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup diced cooked chicken
3 tablespoons pimento, diced
2 tablespoons butter + 1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons flour
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup celery water (reserved when celery is drained after cooking)
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup fine dry plain bread crumbs
Put diced celery in a saucepan. cover with water and add 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil using high heat, then reduce heat and simmer until the celery is tender (about 10-15 minutes). Drain and reserve 1/2 cup of the celery water.
In the meantime, preheat oven to 425° F. In a skillet, using medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter; then stir in the flour. Gradually, add the milk, cream, and celery water while stirring constantly. Continue stirring until the white sauce thickens. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon salt and the pepper. Add the cooked celery and diced chicken. and stir to combine. Put in a 1-quart baking dish. Sprinkle with the bread crumbs and using 1 tablespoon of butter, dot with small pieces of butter. Put in oven and bake until hot and bubbly, and the bread crumbs are lightly browned.
8 thoughts on “Escalloped Celery with Chicken”
It does sound like using the soup would be a shortcut. Reading your post inspired me to look up the history of celery and when it became popular.
This looks like a nice recipe, and one that could be adapted to other vegetables.
This sounds like a nice recipe. I may try it but experiment using lighter dairy such as 2% milk for the whole milk and/or half & half for the cream to reduce the calories, with the knowledge that it will likely alter the creaminess or texture of the casserole.
Interesting about the casseroles. There were never casserole dishes served in our house–I think I finally learned about them in Home Ec class.
I think my mother must have made this and several variations on a regular basis – though she used condensed canned soup. I was never a fan but we had to eat what was put in front of us….
It sounds tasty. At first the idea of celery being the base vegetable made me kind of eh, but after looking I think the sauce and other elements would make it taste great.
The flavors in this sound very satisfying! I like the idea of using the cooked chicken as I always cook it in big batches for later use. I remember being introduced to casseroles in the 1970’s – I’m sure they were around before that, but Daddy was a meat and potatoes man and thought casseroles were the worst things ever so my Mother never tried them until a church potluck changed her thinking!