Monday, July 9, 2012

Chicken Divan? Divine!

Chicken Divan, Caesar Salad and Homemade Bread --YUM!
It doesn't get any more old fashioned than Chicken Divan. I suspect that originally the word was DIVINE pronounced with some kind of hokey French accent, but I really don't know. There are lots and lots of recipes out there for this dish, many including sour cream, cream of something soup or mayonnaise. Since I am not a big fan of mayo, I've never included it in any incarnation of the recipe. This is a very basic, layered casserole version of the dish that can be made a day or two ahead of time and reheated before serving. One of the nice things about this recipe is that you can use leftover chicken, buy a rotisserie chicken and pull off the meat or cook up 2 or 3 of those boneless, skinless breasts from the big box stores.
I remember my mother and my grandmothers serving this dish at luncheons and showers back in the 60's and 70's (I've included a picture of the stylish ladies below). Ladies love it but men do too! Even my college age son (see the Italian kid from a previous post here) gave it a thumbs up when I made it recently. I like that you get protein, vegetables and starches all in one dish.
This dish has always been one of my favorites, so I see no reason not to include it in my dinner rotation, even if it is not as chi-chi fusion as many dishes now in style. If you haven't made this in a long time or have never made it, give it a try. It's not that hard to do and comes out looking and tasting fairly elegant, in a timeless, old fashioned kind of way! NOW, the biggest problem could be: What is it exactly-- Chicken DI-van or di-VAN? I don't honestly know, but I do know it's pretty darn good, almost you might say, divine.

Chicken Divan
2 - 3 c. cooked chicken, cut into bite size pieces
2 c. cooked rice**see Cooks Note
1 bunch broccoli florets, about 2 c., steamed
Cheese Sauce (recipe follows)
3 slices crisp cooked bacon

First, make your cheese sauce:
3 T. flour
3 T. butter
3/4 c. milk (lower fat is fine)
1/4 c. dry white wine
2/3 c. cheddar or Gruyere cheese plus a little more for topping
salt and pepper

Melt the butter and whisk in the flour. Pour in the milk and wine and continue whisking over medium heat until the sauce bubbles and thickens. Add the cheese and a pinch of salt and pepper. Taste the sauce and correct the seasoning.
Spray a 9X9" baking dish (or a 3 quart oval or round) with a little cooking spray. Layer in the cooked rice, chicken and broccoli in a fairly attractive pattern. Pour over the cheese sauce and sprinkle with a little more cheese.
At this point you can refrigerate the dish (covered) for up to 2 days. Be sure to bring it to room temperature before you bake it! Bake at 350 degrees for 35 - 45 minutes until hot through and bubbly. Top with crumbled bacon. Serves 6.
**Cooks note: Other ways to serve this dish include over toast points or English muffins. When served over toast or muffins, a sliced tomato is often included before layering on the chicken, broccoli and sauce. My family likes the bacon on top but that is an optional thing.

My timeless and elegant Grandmothers, in the middle, with my stylish newlywed parents, 1953

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