Classic Chicken Divan

Though it depends on what you mean by classic.

We talked about the real classic Chicken Divan in the entry for Waffles Divan. As a brief refresher, NYC’s Divan Parisen started serving their signature dish in the 1930s. Sliced poached chicken breast was layered over a bed of broccoli, and then a sauce–which was possibly Mornay sauce, possibly hollandaise, or possibly some combination thereof–poured over and broiled just before serving.

So if “classic” means “original,” then no, this isn’t that.

Traditional French cuisine recognizes five mother sauces:

  • bechamel (roux plus milk)
  • veloute (blonde roux plus light stock)
  • espagnole (brown roux plus brown stock)
  • hollandaise (oil and butter emulsion), and
  • tomato (uhm… tomato).

These sauces then form the backbone of the all the varied sauces recognized by formal French cuisine.

Moray sauce is a variation of bechamel. So one of the peculiar things about the original, 1930s Divan Parisien recipe is that the sauces involved could have been from two different families of mother sauce, which is sort of odd.

So on this recipe card… it uses a roux-thickened chicken stock, enriched with cream. That is unquestionably something in the veloute family. So with two of five mother sauces to choose from, this recipe chooses yet a third unrelated sauce.

But is it “classic?” It is, if you grew up eating the casserole version of Chicken Divan that was popularized in the 1950s and 1960s. As I always say, all cuisine is personal, and only personal authenticity matters. If this is what you remember, then of course it’s classic.

From the box of D.W. from Cedar Falls, Iowa.

Classic Chicken Divan

2 (10 oz.) pkgs. frozen broccoli [but see note below]
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1/4 cup all purpose flour
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup whipping cream
3 Tablespoons cooking sherry
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
3 chicken breasts cooked and thinly sliced [in?] slices

Cook broccoli in boiling slated water. Drain.

Melt butter; blend in flour. Add chicken broth. Cook and stir till thick.

Stir in cream, sherry, salt and a dash of pepper. Place broccoli crosswise in 12x9x2 inch baking dish. Pour 1/2 the sauce over. Top with chicken slices.

To remaining sauce, add Parmesan cheese. Pour over chicken. Sprinkle with extra Parmesan cheese.

Bake.

Yesterdish suggestions: First, a word about the broccoli: I’m not strictly sure what was intended by the characters written on the quantity of broccoli. Because packages is plural, I’m guessing they mean two 10-ounce packages, which are the standard “brick of frozen vegetables” you find in the freezer case.

I’d suggest a baking temperature of 375 degrees for about 45 minutes.



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