One of the new items for my blog this year is going back and re-visiting some of my earlier recipes and making them again to see how the recipes stand up now and if I would change anything about them today. My first Chicken Divan post on July 12, 2014, (click for link to original blog post) was part of my To-Go meals.
My To-Go meals were a HUGE part of our life for a long time because we were traveling to rehearsals, classes, and practices so much that I was giving everyone dinner in the car. I had to have meals that traveled well and didn’t have a lot of mess. This was one of those dishes.
I had chicken thawed the other night and was looking for a recipe when I remembered this dish. It was all ingredients I had on hand so it was a perfect time to try this!
Now, Chicken Divan generally has almonds and a Mornay sauce (cheese sauce). Since my family wasn’t eating almonds yet the first time I made this casserole I left them out. You can add sliced almonds mixed with a bit of butter over the top instead of crackers if you like.
This recipe has held up well! I wouldn’t change a thing other than I would say this is more a medium difficulty recipe more than an easy. The only reason being the number of pans required to make the meal if you are cooking it everything from raw. A pot to poach the chicken, a pot to steam the broccoli, a skillet to make the cream sauce, a casserole dish to bake it in and a pot to make the pasta or rice, if desired. That’s a lot of dishes! Leftover chicken and broccoli work great for this dish so if you are making some a day ahead just add extra to make this casserole.
You do not need to serve the dish over rice or pasta but you can if you wish. I ate it for lunch the next day without any added starch and it was filling and delicious by itself.
2 large heads of broccoli, cut into bite size pieces, florets and tender stems only
2 -4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
6 tablespoons butter, divided
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 stalks of celery, thinly sliced
4 tablespoons flour
2/3 cup mayonnaise
- 2 Tablespoons Dijon Mustard
3 cups half-and-half
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded (or more to taste)
salt and pepper
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 sleeve round butter crackers, crushed
- If chicken is not cooked already poach the chicken in a large pan of water with 2 teaspoons of garlic powder. Once chicken is cooked remove from pan and allow to cool before cutting it into bite size pieces.
- While the chicken is cooking, steam the broccoli in a pan with about 1″ of water. Cook until just bright green. Do not overcook or it will become mushy when you cook it with the casserole. You want it al dente or slightly crunchy.
- Preheat oven into 350 degrees. Spray a 13 x 9 pan with non-stick spray.
- Saute the onion and celery in 1 TBSP of butter until softened and onions are turning translucent.
- Add 3 TBSP of butter to the saute pan when the onion and celery is cooked. Once it is melted sprinkle the flour over the butter. Stir continually until a paste is formed and it turns lightly brown.
- Slowly add in the half and half to the flour mixture continually whisking to keep smooth. Allow milk to come to a simmer (but not boil!) and stir continually once it is simmering for about 10 minutes until the mixture starts to become thick. This will feel like it is never going to happen and then once it starts it happens very quickly so watch the mixture carefully.
- Once the mixture has thickened remove the pan from heat and stir in the mayonnaise and Dijon mustard. Taste and season well with salt and pepper to taste.
- Add broccoli to the bottom of the casserole pan. Sprinkle the cooked chicken over the broccoli. Then pour the white sauce over the entire pan spreading it evenly over the entire mixture. Sprinkle the cheddar cheese over the top of the casserole.
- Melt 1 TBSP of butter in a small bowl in the microwave. Add the crushed crackers to the butter and stir well. Sprinkle crackers evenly over the top of the casserole.
- Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until heated through. Let the casserole rest for 5 minutes after removing from oven to set.