Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Chicken Croquettes-70 years later

A World War II era cookbook included a recipe for
 the diner menu staple: Chicken Croquettes
When my sister Sharon first told me she was making chicken croquettes my biggest concern was that she expected me to eat them. She had found an old war-time "patriotic"cookbook at a yard sale and we thought it would be fun to pick a recipe and see how well it held up as an original, or if it inspired a modern version. 
     "Chicken Croquettes? Are you joking?" I blurted when she told me of her selection.
     For many of us of a certain age, chicken croquettes conjure up images of crusty, paste-colored little pyramids dished out by snarly shcool cafeteria ladies; a food better suited for punishment than nourishment. An unruly lunch crowd on Monday? Chicken croquettes for sure on Tuesday. 
     Interestingly enough my sister, who had dined in the same cafeterias and in as many diners as I have, claimed she had never eaten them, didn't even know what they looked like.
     "I think they sound good," she said and began listing the ingredients, "chicken, mayonnaise . . ."
     I refused to give. "Fried chicken salad, yum." 
    She then made an insincere offer to make something else or yield the choice to me, which she knew I would refuse. It became clear that she had taken a liking to the croquette concept and was determined to prove me wrong. Somehow it had become a matter of pride. Chicken croquettes then, full steam ahead.
     Here's the video of our experiment:

     Undeterred by the visual confirmation of my "fried chicken salad" Sharon soldiered on. We never actually witness anyone eating the resulting croquettes (apparently the leftovers were taken to work as lunch the next day by her husband, Bob) and will have to take her word that they were "quite good." 

These local diner croquettes were of the
 high school cafeteria variety
     Sharon recommend serving them with a dipping sauce such as dijonnaise or a sweet and sour barbecue sauce. I do know this, they had to be better than the towers of sawdust and chicken (see photo at right) served  at a local diner which shall remain nameless. I brought these home to my mom , who thought Chicken Croquettes were exotic and French when she ordered them as a  child at Horn & Hardarts in New York. Her verdict on our modern diner version: Let the croquettes, croak.
Click on "read more" for recipe and photo

For the truly brave among you, here's the recipe from The Modern Hostess Cook Book - Patriotic Edition, published by Dell and sold for 10 cents in 1942:
1/2 cup Mayonnaise                      2 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon salt                         2 cups chopped cooked chicken
1/8 teaspoon sugar                      1 cup fine breadcrumbs or rice
1 teaspoon grated onion               fine crumbs for coating

Combine Mayonnaise and seasoning in a bowl. Gradually stir in water. Add chicken and soft bread crumbs (or rice), mix with a fork until thoroughly blended. Let stand 5 minutes. Shape into croquettes and roll in dry crumbs until evenly coated. Line an ungreased baking sheet with brown paper, Place croquettes on this, 1/2 inch apart. Bake in very hot oven (450F) 15-20 minutes or until browned, serves 5 or 6.
Sharon's Chicken croquettes (circa 1942)
Any thoughts on the value of Chicken Croquettes, either diner or home prepared? Let us know.


  1. First happy to be turned onto your blog.
    Keep up the great work!

    As a chef and the aunt of lots of nieces & nephews, our activity of choice as they were all growing up was usually food related. For the past 15 years that includes our "day after Thanksgiving Turkey Croquettes".

    While I too remember the cafeteria sawdust version, these are incredibly delicious and filled, not only with turkey,onion, eggs and seasonings but also make great use of the inevitable leftover mashed potatoes.

    They are delicious but i'm anxious to try your version....I think the addition of mayo is interesting.

    Keep up the great blogging, ladies!

  2. foodgirl,

    Thanks so much for your comments and glad they you enjoy the blog. We're still in the starting stage but will be posting much more frequently going forward.

    Keep in mind if you try the above recipe that it is very old. You may be getting the same advantages in modern day recipes by using oil and eggs.

    If you have a blog or website please feel free to share. You can also contact us by emailing us at

    Thanks again for stopping by.
    Jo Ann