Chicken Divan (Or as we call it, Chicken Divine)

My first experience with Chicken Divan was when a friend talked me into trying it.  We were having lunch in a restaurant that specialized in a variety of crepe dishes, so my encounter was not the usual presentation.  I was intrigued but still skeptical when my dish arrived, but I had to confess it did look and smell amazing.  Light golden crepes, lightly drizzled with the same creamy Mornay sauce that spilled from the ends, revealed juicy grilled chicken breast strips swimming alongside broccoli, mushrooms and toasted almonds. It was almost a religious experience. At first bite, I was hooked. It’s said to have been the signature dish and named for the Divan Parisienne Restaurant, once located in New York City in the early twentieth century.  Typically, it is prepared as a casserole and ingredients vary as it’s been adapted over the years, but the basics remain the same:  Chicken, Mornay sauce (which is a Bechamel, or white sauce, with cheese added-usually half Gruyere & half Parmesan), broccoli & almonds.  Not for the cholesterol impaired, it usually boasts somewhere around 70 mg of cholesterol and approximately 18 gr. of fat (6g, of which is saturated fat) and between 400-600 calories, depending on ingredients. I rationalize serving it by focusing on the 25 g of protein and not making it too often. 

This is  one of my favorites, mostly because it’s delicious, takes minimal prep time and can be made almost entirely from leftovers.  Because of it’s simplicity, you can get creative and add other ingredients if you choose.  Occasionally, I throw in some scallions, mushrooms, water chestnuts, minced leeks, cashews or a splash of Dijon mustard in the sauce.  Adding a little curry is also encouraged as it yields a wonderfully unique taste.  I think some of the best dishes are the ones we discover by experimenting and I rarely make this one the same way twice.  Serve it alone with a wonderful salad (it may offset the calories, but don’t quote me on it) or over rice or pasta.  No matter how you play with it, it’s sure to be a hit.

 

Chicken Divan (Or as we call it, Chicken Divine) by Vicky Akins a.k.a. @writerchick47
2 bunches fresh, stems trimmed & separated or 2 (10 oz.) pkgs. frozen broccoli
½ c. butter
½  c. flour
4 c. chicken broth
1/2 c. whipping cream or Half and Half
3 tbsp. white wine
1 tsp garlic powder
Salt to taste
¼ tsp nutmeg
White pepper, to taste
1/4 c. grated/shredded Parmesan or Romano cheese
4-5 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked or approx. 3-4 c. any leftover chicken, de-boned, skin removed.
(Chicken may be cooked by whichever method you choose.  I prefer grilled or roasted.) 

Topping

2 c. seasoned bread crumbs
¼ c. butter, melted
¼ c. grated or shredded parmesan or romano cheese

*Combine topping ingredients & set aside.

Slice or cube chicken & set aside.
Steam broccoli until nearly done. Drain and set aside. (You can also use leftover broccoli if it’s still firm)
Melt butter and gradually add flour. Stir constantly with a whisk. Do not brown flour but cook on medium-low for 1-3 minutes. Gradually add chicken broth and stir until thick. Gently whisk in cream or Half and Half, salt, pepper garlic powder, nutmeg and add cheese. Place chicken pieces and broccoli in baking dish. A 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking dish works best.  Pour sauce over top, lightly mix, then sprinkle with crumb mixture and bake uncovered in 350 degree oven for 20-30 minutes.

 

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