Chicken Divan and A test to see how old you are.
Test Question #1 – are you old enough to remember this dish from the glory days of the casserole?
Test Question #2 – are you old enough to remember fancy potluck and progressive dinners?
Test Question #3 – why don’t we make these delicious dishes anymore?
Let’s revisit some of these recipes. They’re full of good stuff – broccoli, chicken, creamy sauce.
Resurrect the Potluck!
According to the big yellow Gourmet Cookbook, Chicken Divan was created at the Divan Parisien restaurant in New York in the 1950s. I’ve adapted the recipe just slightly and made a few steps easier with the help of the microwave.
Here’s what you need:
Chicken Breasts, Shallot, Broccoli, Butter, Parmesan or Romano Cheese, Chicken Broth, Flour, Heavy Cream, Sherry, Olive Oil, Flour, Salt & Pepper.
The original recipe calls for boneless, skinless chicken breasts to be cooked in a pan. I had bone in, skin on chicken breasts and opted to cook them in the oven to keep the chicken moister and to cut down on the fat added to the dish.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Season the chicken breasts with a bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper and bake for 40 minutes until golden brown and the juices run clear.
When the chicken is done, set it aside for a few minutes so that the juices can reabsorb into the meat.
Increase the heat of the oven to 375 degrees.
I took the liberty of adding a shallot to this recipe and I think it adds a very nice flavor boost to the sauce. Finely chop 1 large shallot – about 1/4 cup.
Rinse a head of broccoli, remove most of the woody stem, and cut the flowers into 3-4 inch spears. Put the broccoli and a tiny bit of water in a microwave safe bowl, cover with plastic wrap and microwave for 3-4 minutes until bright green and slightly tender.
Set the cooked broccoli aside while you make the sauce.
Melt 1/2 stick (4 Tablespoons) of butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the shallot and saute for a few minutes until tender and fragrant but not browned.
Stir 5 Tablespoons of flour into the shallots and butter to make a roux. Turn the heat down to medium low so that the roux doesn’t get too brown.
Cook for a few minutes until the flour has been incorporated completely into the butter.
Add 2 cups of chicken broth – either homemade or the low-sodium variety from the store and whisk to remove any lumps.
The sauce will bubble and thicken as it cooks. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook the sauce, stirring occasionally for 10 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat and stir in 1/4 cup sherry.
PLEASE be sure to use real, drinking sherry and not that stuff that’s called “cooking” sherry. If you buy it in the wine section, you’re getting the real thing. If it’s found near the vinegar, don’t do it!
Season the sauce with salt and pepper.
Now for something a bit odd. I’ve never done this for a sauce but it seems to work. Beat 1/2 cup of heavy cream until stiff peaks form.
Using a spatula, gently fold the whipped cream into the sauce. You want to stir gently enough to keep as much air in the whipped cream as possible (sort of like making a souffle or something with egg whites) but still stir enough to combine all of the ingredients.
Place your steamed broccoli spears in a 2 quart (I’m using a 9×13 inch dish) casserole pan. You could also make individual Chicken Divans if you had small ceramic ramekins or oven proof dishes.
Pour half of the cream sauce over the broccoli.
Grate 1 cup of Parmesan or Romano Cheese on a fairly fine holed grater.
Stir 1/2 cup of the cheese into the remaining half of the cream sauce.
Pull the chicken meat away from the skin and bones with your fingers and cut it into thin slices.
Arrange the chicken in the casserole dish over the broccoli and sauce.
Pour the remaining sauce with cheese over the top of the chicken using a spatula to try to cover all of the areas with sauce.
Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup of grated cheese over the top of the casserole.
Creamy, cheesy, chickeny goodness. With broccoli too!
Bake at 375 for 15 minutes until hot and bubbly around the edges. Turn the oven to broil and cook, WATCHING CLOSELY SO IT DOES NOT BURN, for 5 minutes to develop a lovely crusty top.
I served my Chicken Divan on a small bed of rice pilaf. Add a green salad and dinner’s ready!
Chicken Divan. It’s comfort food gone bonkers!
Here’s the recipe: