No “cream-of-Something”, no artificial flavors, no preservatives – just creamy, tasty chicken goodness! That’s the secret behind this classic chicken divan recipe I made the other night for friends. I checked my freezer and had 4 nice chicken breasts, so a chicken divan casserole sounded perfect. It bakes in the oven without a lot of fuss, so I can enjoy the guests while the oven does all the work.
I’d bought 4 large bone-in chicken breasts on sale at the market a while ago, and had been rolling around in my head what I wanted to do with them. When I decided on Divan, I knew I’d have to de-bone and skin these breasts to make the recipe work. When I do it, I just dig a finger into the bone at the base of the breast and give a good yank – when you know the right spot, you can pull it right off the bone. But if you need to see how to do it with a knife, here’s a simple video:
Now for the rest of the ingredients:
Classic Chicken Divan
- 2 medium bunches of fresh broccoli, separated into bite-size pieces
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced or whole.
- 1 Tbl oil
- 4 Tbl butter
- 3 Tbl flour (I used unbleached all-purpose)
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1/2 cup dairy (milk, 1/2 and 1/2, yogurt – all will work well. I used 1/2 and 1/2)
- 1/3 cup white wine or sherry
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (or a mix of whatever strikes you. I like the sharpness of cheddar to accent the creamy dairy.)
- salt and pepper
- dash of nutmeg
If you have a covered casserole like the Le Creuset pictured above – that’s ideal. Or spray a 9X13″ baking pan with oil.
Preheat the oven to 325F
Steam the broccoli for about 4 minutes until it turns bright green. Set aside.
Saute the breasts in hot oil until lightly browned – about 4 minutes per side. Do not overcook. Drain.
Slowly add the broth to the roux, then the wine and dairy, whisking over low heat until the sauce thickens. Add a dash of nutmeg (and by “dash” it means “less than you can measure in your tiniest measuring spoon.”) Finally, stir in all but 1/4 cup of the cheese until it’s melted and smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste (I used about 3/4 tsp of salt and 1/4 tsp pepper).
Place the breasts in the baking dish. Top with broccoli. Pour the sauce over the top and add the remaining cheese. Cover with lid or foil and bake for 35 to 45 minutes – removing the lid/foil for the last 10.
I made some rice, using my remaining chicken stock for liquid, and sauteed some zucchini with lemon pepper for a side. An easy dinner for four, and I was able to do it while having wine and conversation!
I love using my Le Creuset casserole for making this dish. There’s no fussing with foil (whereupon I always burn myself trying to put it on/take it off). The heavy lid works perfectly to keep the chicken moist, and when you want to brown the top a bit, you just take it off! Couldn’t be simpler. Get one at Amazon:
And as always, leave me a comment or variation on this recipe. It’s always fun to see what others have come up with.