Sorry for disappearing for a bit there. Pregnancy and family coming to town and, oh, being diagnosed with gestational diabetes derailed my normal food blogging activities. The diabetes diagnosis is kind of surprising and kind of not – on the one hand my mom developed it when she was pregnant with my little sisters, but on the other hand I come from a naturally thin family and I’m typically ambivalent about sweets, so I guess maybe my chances of having it were kind of 50/50. Anyway, it’s ironic how diabetes has managed to increase my food obsession while sucking 95% of the fun out of it. I eat on a timer now, measure my portions, and test my blood four times a day to see if my carefully planned foods are cooperating with my pancreas. I went out to a Mexican restaurant on Wednesday and ate three chips from the bottomless basket. Three. And I cheered when I tested my blood sugar afterward and found out I got away with it.
To be honest, I’m making it sound worse than it is, but I want you to forgive me for being absent, and maybe fawn over me a bit. Pregnant ladies are allowed to ask that I hear.
But now to the topic at hand: chicken divan. I think chicken divan is one of those mutant foods that started out as a 1950’s classy hotel dish and morphed into something very different as it worked it’s way into home kitchens. I grew up eating the cream soup version with generic yellow curry powder, mayo, broccoli, and cheese – it shouldn’t work at all, but it does, and I love it. This recipe is my (successful! IMO) attempt at recreating that nostalgic flavor while omitting the “cream of” soups. I thought about getting rid of the mayo too, but it just isn’t the same without it.
This casserole freezes awesomely and reheating is straightforward: right out of the freezer and into a low oven for about two hours. The end result is spicy, creamy, crunchy, and delightfully melty-mushy in the way only sauce covered, cooked-forever broccoli is (it’s a thing, I swear).
I can totally have this for a diabetes dinner too, with liiiiike a half cup of brown rice. Yaaay…?!
Real Food Chicken Divan
makes 6-8 servings, or one 9×13 casserole
-1 lb. chicken breast, cooked and diced or shredded
-1/4 cup butter
-1/4 cup flour
-1 Tbsp yellow or madras curry powder (I like the hot kind, but use what you prefer)
-2 cups chicken broth
-1/2 cup sour cream
-2 tsp lemon juice
-1/4 cup mayonnaise (Hellmann’s is my favorite here)
-salt and pepper, to taste
-1 lb bag frozen broccoli florets (if you use fresh instead, add 1/2 cup extra broth to the sauce)
-2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
-panko breadcrumbs tossed with a bit of melted butter or olive oil and a dash of paprika
1. Cook your chicken (if it isn’t already cooked). I like to poach mine gently in salted water or chicken broth, dice it up, and use the cooking liquid (with a little bouillon if necessary) as the broth to make the sauce.
2. In a sauce pan or skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add flour and curry powder and stir well. Add chicken broth and whisk until the sauce is thickened.
3. Remove the sauce from the heat and add sour cream, lemon juice, mayo, and salt and pepper to taste.
4. In your casserole dish, spread broccoli (leave it frozen if you’re freezing the casserole, microwave and drain it first if you plan to serve immediately), layer the chicken, and pour the sauce over everything. Blanket with cheese (!) and top with breadcrumbs.
5. Cover with plastic and freeze for up to 3 months (brick style is smart!), or bake immediately for 30 minutes in a 350F oven.
6. To cook from frozen, remove plastic and cover the casserole with aluminum foil. Bake in a 300F oven (covered! don’t forget or it will dry out) for about two and a half hours, or until a thermometer inserted in the center reaches 165F, removing the foil for the final 30 minutes of baking. Serve over white or brown rice.