Chicken divan. Here is your chance to feel empathy; I'd never heard of chicken divan until I was in my mid-twenties. Apparently, it's a well-known, American dish made by households regularly. Being an American myself, I suppose my lack of knowledge about the dish was pretty sad. Confessions lighten the soul. I'm going to attribute my lack of experience to the fact that growing up if something had mayonnaise in it (or looked like it did) my mother would not touch it, smell it, and would gag at the simple sight of it. She and mayo weren't allow to occupy the same room. My taste buds must have been inherited from my father. Anyhow, it was my mother-in-law, who ultimately shared her version with me after making it for us one day. This version is a tasty combination of family versions with my own twist. The rest of my family uses cream of chicken or mushroom soup in their versions. If I can avoid using canned soup, I do.
This recipe will show you how to make chicken divan WITHOUT cream of mushroom or cream of chicken (or cream of whatever) soup.
If you want to read more about the origins of chicken divan, check out the wiki page. I was curious too.
I prefer to cook the chicken myself, but in a hurry I'll use store-bought rotisserie chicken and rip it with my bare hands into bite-size pieces. I picked up some "meat claws" online, which I occasionally use to help with shredding. They make me look like Wolverine from X-Men. Either way I cut it, I want to ensure that I look as bad ass as possible while ripping the meat off the bones. Bass-heavy rock music playing in the background always helps get one into the ripping/shredding mood too. Food for thought.
When cooking the chicken myself, I chop up six chicken thighs into bite-sized pieces and sautée them in a skillet on medium heat in a little bit of olive oil (about 2-3 tbsp), 1 tbsp of minced garlic, and salt and pepper to taste. Once the chicken is no longer pink, I set it aside in another bowl.
Sautéing it in the skillet leaves tasty morsels on the bottom of the pan, which is perfect for adding additional flavor to your sauce. Once the chicken is out of the skillet, I add in the butter, allow it to melt, and stir in the flour. Once the flour is cooked, I stir in the chicken broth and the milk. We're essentially making a creamy chicken soup which translates into the store-bought cans of soup. The extra work is worth it, plus, you get to brag.
After the sauce is allowed to simmer for a couple minutes it will begin to thicken, then I add in the seasonings. Once it's the consistency I want, I turn off the heat and stir in one cup of the cheese. I allow it to cool for a few minutes while I work on the bread since I don't know how my mayo or sour cream will react if I throw it in there while it's so hot. It would probably be fine, but I treat my mayo and sour cream with respect and listen to its needs.
So...while the sauce is cooling, I begin to butter my bread. I prefer Italian bread since it's a bit denser, but I have gone the ghetto route and used leftover sandwich bread without complaints from the consumers. It's hard to deal with though. It's all delicate and prissy and rips easily (no meat claws needed for this step...just sayin'). Beggars can't be choosers. If I'm too lazy to hit the store for dense bread (or goths forbid, make my own bread), then I need to suck it up and use the fluffy stuff. Tangents aside, I cut the bread into bite-size pieces that will fit nicely on top of the chicken divan like pieces of a puzzle.
Since wrestling with the bread takes about five minutes, the sauce is ready for the sour cream or mayo. After I incorporate that, I add in the broccoli (it's okay if it's frozen), and the chicken. I use big pieces of broccoli so it's easy to pick out for the non-broccoli eaters. I stir everything to coat it and transfer it into a casserole dish.
Once it's in the casserole dish, I do my buttered bread jig-saw puzzle, and top it with more cheese. Then, I pop it in the preheated oven for about 25-30 minutes.
I had to shoo my kids away while taking all the pictures. You'll have to forgive the image quality. I made all this with the five of them running circles around me dancing with forks like we were in Lord of the Flies. They can't get enough of the creamy sauce that soaks into the toast. It's the best part.
I know there are a ton of chicken divan with broccoli recipes out there, thanks for checking this one out. What's your favorite part of this version? I know...it's the thought of one of my kitchen elves getting a hold of my meat claws isn't it. It's alright. Once that happens, you'll see pictures on Facebook.
p.s. Despite how awesome I might appear online, mistakes happen. If you happen to spot one on this recipe, save your fellow cooks a disaster and let me know by using the contact form.
Chicken Divan with Broccoli
- Preheat oven to 375℉.
- If using raw chicken: sautée bite-sized chicken pieces in olive oil over medium heat (seasoned with 1 tbsp minced garlic, salt, and pepper -to taste) until no longer pink. Alternatively, use prepared chicken: such as store-bought rotisserie chicken. Set aside in a separate bowl.
- Once the chicken is cooked and set aside, melt 3 tbsp of butter in a skillet over medium heat. Have the flour and chicken broth ready. After the butter is melted sprinkle the flour into the skillet fully incorporating it into the butter. Cook until golden in color (about 30 seconds to a minute).
- After the flour is cooked, slowly whisk in the chicken broth until it becomes smooth, and almost gravy-like in texture.
- Slowly add in the milk while continuing to whisk. Allow the mixture to come a simmer, then add in the seasoning: curry powder, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, and lemon juice.
- Continue to allow the mixture to simmer for another few minutes until begins to thicken. Turn off the heat. Then, stir in 1 cup of the cheddar cheese.
- While the sauce is cooling, begin to butter the bread. Cut into small bite-sized pieces. (Note: buttering the bread it optional, but recommended.)
- To the cooling sauce, stir in 1 cup of mayonnaise or sour cream.
- Once the sauce is completely combined, add in the desired amount of broccoli and the cooked chicken. Stir to coat.
- Transfer the sauce, broccoli, and chicken into a 9x13 casserole dish, spreading it out evenly. Create a top layer with the pieces of buttered bread.
- Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top of the layer of bread.
- Place in the preheated oven and cook for 25-30 minutes.
NOTE: Please allow it to cool before eating...this will be calling your name, but is HOT. Leftovers taste even better, so don't eat it all in one sitting.
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