This recipe is based on one used in the dining cars of Southern railroads during the 1920s.  The railroads in the South at that time were known for delicious fare prepared fresh on board with ingredients collected along the route.

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

½ cup finely chopped onion

1/3 cup finely diced celery, preferably with tender leaves included

¾ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

½ teaspoon dried thyme

1 small bay leaf

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

¼ cup chicken stock, giblet gravy or milk

1 cup half and half

1-1/2 cups chopped cooked turkey

¾ cup jarred chestnuts

1 tablespoon cognac or brandy (optional)

corn griddle cakes for serving


  1. Heat the butter in a 12 to 14 inch saute pan until melted and foaming. Add the onion, celery, salt, pepper, thyme and bay leaf.  Stir well to coat the vegetables, and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes. stirring often, until the vegetables are wilted and tender but not colored.
  1. Sprinkle the flour over and stir well.  Cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly, then, off heat, slowly stir in the chicken stock (or other liquid), followed by the half and half.  Return the pan to the heat and bring to a gentle simmer.  Simmer for 1 minute, and taste for seasoning; you will most likely need more salt, unless you added gravy or stock that was highly seasoned.
  1. Add the turkey and chestnuts and simmer until heated through. Taste again for seasoning.  Add the optional booze and cook 1 minute longer to burn off the alcohol.
  1. Serve hot, spooned over toast, thin cornbread, or (best of all) corn griddle cakes.

from Edna Lewis and Scott Peacock, The Gift of Southern Cooking

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