For Father's Day my husband chose to forego grilling on the likely chance that I would be forced to involved him in the coal lighting and cooking process. Instead he wisely chose one of his favorite casseroles, Chicken Divan which he knows I am more than capable of preparing without any assistance from him. This retro comfort food is a casserole that consists of chicken chunks, broccoli, and a decadent sauce which can be layered ahead of time and then topped with cheese and buttered cracker crumbs before baking. It is a dish that my husband's mother used to make for his family and is one that we still enjoy today.
According to Wikipedia, Chicken Divan was first served in the 1950's at a New York restaurant called Divan Parisienne. The word divan means meeting place which is fitting for this dish that is often served at church suppers or potlucks. I bet the original recipe did not involve cans of Campbell's condensed soup, but the smart homemakers of decades gone by adapted the original labor intensive Béchamel sauce for a quicker version. I love the freshness and tang that the lemon juice adds and the slight bite of the curry in contrast to the creamy sauce which is perfect over rice.
It seems that everybody from Paula Deen to the nice lady down the street cooks a variation of Chicken Divan. Some folks include almonds and white wine and others shred the chicken as opposed to cutting it into chunks. The recipe that I made is from a version that I copied onto a 5x7 index card decades ago. I am not sure of its source, but it serves as a great launching off point. It can easily be adapted by adding more curry, increasing the amount of sauce, or substituting turkey instead of chicken. Either way by following the simple steps below a tasty and homey casserole will be ready to share with family and friends.
|My original faded recipe is copied in my swirly cursive onto a 4 x 6 card.|
|Layer steamed broccoli in the bottom of a buttered casserole dish. |
If your family includes a broccoli hater like mine does,
only place broccoli on half.
|Top broccoli with chunks of cooked chicken or turkey. Leftovers work great.|
|Slather decadent sauce on top of chicken and broccoli.|
|Sprinkle shredded cheddar cheese on top of casserole.|
|Crush crackers in a zip-lock bag. I use Ritz, Saltines, or whatever I have in the pantry.|
This is a great time to involve the kids.
Melted butter can be added directly into baggie and mixed.
|Bake and enjoy!|
Chicken Divan Recipe
2 - 10 ounce bags of frozen broccoli florets, or less to taste
2 cups cubed cooked chicken or turkey
2 - 10 3/4 ounce cans Campbell's cream of chicken condensed soup
1 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon curry powder, or more to taste
1 cup crushed cracker crumbs
1/2 cup butter, melted
- Butter a 9x13 casserole.
- Steam broccoli and layer in the bottom of the buttered casserole.
- Layer chicken or turkey on top of broccoli.
- Mix cream of chicken soup, mayonnaise, lemon juice, and curry powder until well blended.
- Slather broccoli and chicken layer with sauce.
- Sprinkle sauce layer with shredded sharp cheddar cheese.
- Crush crackers in a gallon zip-lock bag. Add melted butter to baggie and mix until crackers are coated.
- Spread cheese layer with buttered cracker crumbs.
- Bake, uncovered at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until topping is slightly browned and edges are bubbly.
- Serve over steamed rice.
Linked to the following inspiring blogs: