The Clara Project: cheesy chicken shortcakes.

The name of this recipe, clipped out of a magazine advertisement (probably in the 1940s or 50s) and stashed in Clara Shenefelt’s recipe collection, stopped me in my tracks:

Cheese and Chicken Shortcake.

Um, hello!

Here’s the thing: I’m not really the open-a-can-of-cream-of-chicken-soup, melt-a-block-of-Velveeta kind of cook. And this recipe starts with, Slowly melt one half-pound pkg. of full-flavored Kraft American in top of double-boiler.

cheesy chicken shortcakes

Oy. Clearly, this was one of the recipes in my ongoing exploration of vintage recipe cards (learn more about The Clara Project) that was going to need some updating. Still, I loved the idea: Kind of an upside-down or inside-out version of chicken pot pie, with crumbly biscuits and a cheesy, creamy chicken topping.

So I totally hacked the idea and created a new recipe, one that includes a whole bunch of vegetables and a whole lot less cheese (and fat and calories). It’s delicious. Ridiculously so. Comforting and super easy to make. I loved this newfangled recipe for cheesy chicken shortcakes, and I hope you do too.


(serves 6)

2 Tbsp. butter
2 carrots, diced
1/2 onion, diced
2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cup chicken stock (I prefer Swanson's organic)
1 1/2 cup diced cooked chicken
1 cup frozen peas, thawed (I used leftover sugar snap peas)
3/4 cup finely shredded sharp cheddar cheese

6 homemade biscuits (I love this recipe from Smitten Kitchen), warmed

Melt butter in a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat; when it's foamy, add the diced carrot and onion. Season with salt, stir and cook for about 2 minutes, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook until the vegetables are softened, about 8 minutes. Sprinkle the vegetables with 2 Tbsp. of flour and stir to incorporate; cook over medium heat for 2 minutes. Slowly, a little bit at a time, stir in the chicken stock, stirring well until the sauce is smooth and the flour is fully incorporated. Raise the heat a bit and bring the mixture to a boil; cook for 2–3 minutes until it thickens slightly. Add the cooked chicken and peas (or other cooked vegetables) and heat until everything is warmed through and nicely bubbly, about 5 minutes. Lower the heat and stir in the cheese, a handful at a time, until it's melted.

Split and butter one biscuit for each serving; top the bottom half with some of the cheesy chicken mixture and place the biscuit "lid" on top.

Here’s the original recipe, in case you’re curious:

Slowly melt one half-pound pkg. of full-flavored Kraft American in top of double boiler. Add 1/3 cup chicken broth gradually, stirring until sauce is smooth. Add 1 1/2 cups cubed chicken (a chance to use left-overs!). Split hot biscuits, butter them, and put together with a generous filling of the hot cheese-and-chicken sauce. Serve with hot, buttered green beans garnished with strips of pimiento and the main part of your dinner is all one one platter. When you make this dish, notice how beautifully Kraft American melts. That’s because Kraft experts have perfected the cookability of cheese!

About The Clara Project
Once a week, I’ll make and share a recipe from a collection of vintage recipe cards that were written in the 1930s by Clara Shenefelt. See all the Clara Project recipes.

7 thoughts on “The Clara Project: cheesy chicken shortcakes.

  1. I think the appropriate title for the Original Recipe should be 911 Chicken. Oy, indeed. I will try the new version. Great renovation of the old version. Please send us a Mom’s Favorite Mother’s Day Dinner list for the upcoming celebration of All Things Maternal.

  2. Oh no! For a second there I thought you were not going to list Clara’s recipe! The curiosity would have killed me. Sounds like a clipping for advertising Kraft. I do think your recipe is the one I will follow. LOL Thank you for doing the Clara Project. I find it to be fun!

    • Vicki — you’re right: this chicken shortcake recipe was originally published as a promotion for Kraft Foods. My guess is that it ran in a women’s magazine in the ’40s or 50s. Thanks for the comment!

  3. You know, that recipe is familiar because I just received a whole packet of old cookbooks — manufacturer’s books, “social” cookbooks, back of the box — and one of them is from Kraft. Now I’m really curious and will have to go digging. Great job of making it real!

    • Rosemary, those old promotional cookbooks from food companies are a blast to look through. The old-style food photography is a hoot. You may find some gems, though — or find inspiration to update some of those old recipes to suit your modern way of cooking. Please share any fun things you find!

  4. Pingback: The Clara Project: favorite vintage recipes. | writes4food | recipes and wisdom from a Midwestern kitchen