This Chicken Divan is my contribution to the collection of comfort foods for the Food Network. This week’s theme is our favorite chicken dinners. From fried chicken and chicken salad, to Thai chicken satay and chicken and dumplings, it is a love affair with poultry this week. I love what everyone came up with!
I chose a classic dish from the Fifties once considered the height of haute cuisine. I think it is time for a do-over. In the original version, poached chicken and boiled broccoli are coated with a cheesy bechamel sauce. It tends to be pale and boring looking, not vibrant and enticing.
For my newly interpreted version I have added a lot more vegetables and roasted them to boost flavor. Seasonings in the cream sauce add dimension, flavor, and much needed color. Turmeric is a natural way to add lovely yellow tones to your foods – a much less expensive option than saffron. I added a little more than I wanted so my sauce is quite bright. You can add as little or as much as you like for just the right shade.
Most of the vegetables stand up to the hot oven and soften beautifully. But if you put the broccoli in at the same time as everything else, it will be overcooked and limp. So, I chose to add it about halfway through the roasting, helping to keep it bright green and al dente.
If you have children or other family members who do not care for broccoli, you can substitute another vegetable, but I’ll bet this creamy cheese sauce will have everyone asking for seconds – even your pickiest eaters.
Although it sounds like it would be a heavy sauce, it is actually quite light because most of the liquid is chicken broth. Using Parmesan is a lower fat choice of cheese that packs a punch of flavor. And there is only enough cream added to smooth out the texture and add a touch of indulgence.
If you want a more casual and easier version, you can turn it into a casserole. Use cooked chicken either from a grocery store rotisserie chicken or an earlier meal you cooked. Turn this into a casserole by steaming or sautéing the vegetables, tossing with cooked and chopped chicken and some of the sauce. Pour this into a baking dish, sprinkle with some Parmesan and pop in the oven until the sauce is bubbling and the chicken is warmed through. You can pass the remaining sauce at the table or keep it in the refrigerator for another meal.
The Artist and I enjoyed this tribute to both of our mothers. Our childhood meals had a lot of recipes made with canned soups and heavy sauces. This rendition of Chicken Divan was packed with vegetables and the thyme added a nuance that beautifully complemented the other flavors.
Thanks for stopping by and be sure to check the other recipes in the collection – they are listed below. I hope you enjoy this meal and have a fabulous weekend!
Key Ingredients for Improved Chicken Divan:
- Butter, flour, chicken broth, cream
- White wine, thyme, lemon zest, turmeric, Parmesan
- Carrots, celery, poblano peppers, onion, garlic, cauliflower, broccoli
- Boneless chicken breasts, fresh lemon juice
If you want, you can make roasted potatoes at the same time and have a full meal. Just cut the potatoes into cubes and toss with a little olive oil and seasonings. Thyme and/or rosemary would be good choices. Cook the potatoes in a separate baking pan and serve alongside the chicken other roasted vegetables.
How to make Improved Chicken Divan:
- Make a white sauce with chicken broth, cream and wine
- Reserve 1/3 of the sauce and add Parmesan to the remaining sauce
- Toss all the veggies except the broccoli and place in a baking pan; top with the chicken and roast 15 min
- Put the chicken on a plate, add the broccoli and plain sauce, tossing to coat evenly; add chicken back to the pan and cover with the cheesy sauce, sprinkle with remaining cheese and return to the oven until chicken is done
- Broil a couple of minutes until golden brown and bubbling; remove from the oven, tent with foil and let rest 10 minutes
- Scoop some veggies onto plates, top each with a chicken breast and drizzle with remaining cheesy sauce; serve hot.
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Use a gluten-free flour blend or combine 3 tbsp rice flour or sorghum flour with 1 tbsp cornstarch.
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour or gluten-free flour blend
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp white pepper
- 3 cups chicken broth
- 1 cup whipping cream
- 6 tbsp dry white wine or dry vermouth
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 4 tsp grated lemon zest
- 1 tsp turmeric, optional (adds a lovely yellow color)
- 3/4 cup Parmesan or shredded Monterey Jack cheese, divided
- 2 tbsp organic olive oil
- 4 carrots, cut into 1/2-inch coins
- 3 celery stalks, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
- 2 poblano peppers, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
- 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, halved lengthwise
- 1/2 cauliflower, cut into small florets
- 1/2 bunch fresh broccoli, cut into pieces
- 3 tsp dried thyme
- Kosher or fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 6 boneless chicken breasts
- 2 tbsp organic olive oil
- 3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves or dried thyme
- Kosher or fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Make the Sauce: Melt the butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Sprinkle the flour over the top and whisk it in until smooth. Add salt and pepper. Cook 3 to 5 minutes, whisking constantly, until the roux just starts to turn color. Whisk while you slowly pour in the chicken broth and cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly until sauce thickens and bubbles. Whisk in the cream and wine. Add the thyme, zest and turmeric, whisking until evenly distributed and the sauce is smooth.
- Remove from the heat and ladle 1/3 of the sauce into a bowl. Set the bowl next to the stove. Add 1/2-cup of the Parmesan to the sauce left in the skillet, whisking until the cheese has melted and the sauce is smooth. Move the skillet to the back of the stove.
- Roast the Vegetables and Chicken: Drizzle a little of the oil over the bottom of a 9x13-inch baking pan. Add the carrots, celery, poblano peppers, onions, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper, reserving the broccoli. Stir and toss them until they are coated with the oil. Spread them out into an even layer. Lay the chicken breasts over the top of the vegetables, leaving a little room between each one. Drizzle with the olive oil and lemon juice. Sprinkle with the thyme and season lightly with the salt and pepper. Place the pan in the oven and roast for 15 minutes.
- Finish the Dish: After 15 minutes, transfer the chicken to a plate. Add the broccoli to the pan and pour the plain sauce in the bowl over the vegetables, tossing to coat evenly. Place the chicken back on top of the vegetables. Spoon about half of the cheesy sauce over the top of the chicken pieces, being careful to cover any exposed surfaces. This will help protect it from drying out in the oven. Sprinkle the chicken with the remaining 1/4-cup of cheese. Set the rest of the sauce back on the stove and keep warm, covered, stirring occasionally.
- Return the pan to the oven and continue baking for another 10 to 12 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer registers 158°F to 160°F when inserted in the middle of the chicken breasts. If you are using thin pieces of chicken, they may take less time.
- Pull the pan from the oven and turn on the broiler. Place the pan under the broiler with oven door ajar, and cook until golden brown and bubbling, about 2 minutes. Remove from the oven, cover loosely with foil and let rest 10 minutes. This gives the chicken time to finish cooking and the juices to be reabsorbed back into the center of the meat.
- To serve, scoop some of the roasted vegetables onto each plate and prop a piece of chicken on them. Drizzle with the remaining cheesy sauce and serve hot.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 485Total Fat: 25gSaturated Fat: 11gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 123mgSodium: 1009mgCarbohydrates: 25gFiber: 3gSugar: 4gProtein: 36g
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This recipe is part of Food Network’s weekly #ComfortFoodFeast. See the links below for inspiration and check out our Pinterest page for recipes from the whole series!
- Feed Me Phoebe: Easy Vietnamese Chicken Pho with Bok Choy & Herbs (Pho Ga)
- The Lemon Bowl: Thai Chicken Satay with Sriracha Hoisin Peanut Sauce
- The Heritage Cook: Chicken Divan with Roasted Vegetables (Gluten Free)
- Creative Culinary: Maple Whiskey Chicken with Bacon
- Dishing with Divya: Chicken Bones and Vegetable Soup
- Elephants and the Coconut Trees: Whole Roasted Tandoori Chicken
- Taste with the Eyes: Fabulous Filipino Chicken Adobo
- Napa Farmhouse 1885: Chicken with Spinach & Artichoke Dip Sauce
- Red or Green: Spicy Chicken, Rice & Black Bean Bake
- FN Dish: Classic vs. Creative: Your Pick of Top Chicken Comfort Foods
This post was first shared in Mar 2015. The article was updated in 2020.