Chicken Divan is a chicken casserole made out of broccoli, almonds and Mornay sauce. It’s one of the staple dishes cooked at home during the 1960’s when it started to become popular. Today making this is quite different unlike how it used to, now recipes out there uses mostly ready-made flavours and enhancers to make it really tasty without having to waste time making them hence ingredients like mayonnaise, sour cream, cream of chicken and cheddar cheese are used.
Chicken Divans roots started during the 1950’s in a restaurant called Divan Parisiennne Restaurant in the New York Chatham Hotel where it is served as their signature dish. It was created by a chef named Lagasi initially as an entry to a contest which won and since then it was served at the restaurant he is working for. Divan in French means “meeting place” or “great hall”, in giving such a name it implied continental elegance hence it attracted some diners to order it.
Today we will be making it as classic as I can so we will be back to basics in using as raw the ingredients may be.
- 2 boneless skinless chicken breast halve, sliced into bite sized pieces
- 1 large broccoli, cut into florets
- 1 cup slivered almonds
- ½ cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated
- 1 cup good chicken stock,
- 1 cup milk
- ½ cup cream
- 3 tbsp sherry
- a pinch grated nutmeg
- ⅓ cup butter
- 4 tbsp flour
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 4 tbsp bread crumbs
- 2 tbsp butter, melted
- ½ tsp dried parsley
- Season chicken with salt and pepper, set it aside for 15 minutes.
- In a bowl combine topping ingredients together. Set aside.
- Prepare a pan, heat oil then cook the chicken pieces until slightly brown and just cooked around 5 minutes. Remove from pan then set aside.
- In a pot add boiling water then place broccoli florets, gently simmer for 2 minutes. Drain then rinse with cold running water to stop it from cooking.
- Using the same pan you used to cook the chicken, add the butter and melt in medium heat. Once melted add the flour and cook while stirring for 1 minute. Gradually pour chicken stock and milk while whisking to make a thick sauce.
- Add the sherry, nutmeg, half of the cheese, salt and freshly ground black pepper then stir until cheese melts, cook for around 8-10 minutes in low heat.
- In a casserole combine broccoli, chicken, almonds and remaining cheese.
- Whip the cream until it forms soft peaks then fold into the prepared cheese sauce. Pour this mixture over the chicken and broccoli. Top with the prepared toppings.
- Place in a 190C preheated oven and bake for 30-40 minutes. Once cooked remove from oven then serve.