Sunday, September 25, 2011

Chicken Divan - without the can of soup!

My grandma's recipe for Chicken Divan goes like this: place thawed frozen broccoli and cooked chicken in a casserole dish. Combine a can of cream of mushroom soup, some spices, mayo, milk and pour the mixture over the chicken&broccoli. Heat in an oven until hot and sprinkle with paprika. Easy, but don't you wonder: what is in that can of soup?  You don't want to know. Even if the ingredients are organic and fabulous, a recent study found BPA in the can liners of kids foods- never mind non-kid marketed soup!

Since I was creeped out by the ingredients in canned soup, I developed my own recipe. If you've never made a roux before, do not fear, it is simple and can be 'fixed' with lots of whisking, even if it seems hopelessly lumpy. I usually use a pre-cooked chicken bought at the market, and strip the meat off the bone the night before, putting the meat in the fridge overnight. If you are feeling decadent you can substitute heavy cream for half the milk. If you are feeling vegetarian you can substitute tofu for the chicken. Cube tofu and fry in a tiny bit of oil, so each side is a bit crispy before using.

In the Netherlands, you can find Worchester sauce at Jumbo in Veldhoven, and my friend tells me the AH XL has it. The American Goodies store in Amsterdam also has it. Don't leave this out, as it imparts a 'kick' to the flavor of the dish.

Chicken Divan

·       A large bunch of broccoli, cut into bite sized pieces, cooked aldente (about 350 g)
·       Cooked chicken (2 or 3 breasts) or a combination of dark & light meat cut into pieces
·        2 cups chicken broth (500ml)
·       ¼ cup unsalted butter, cut into chunks (60g)
·       1/3 cup flour (60g)
·       ½ cup mayonnaise (125ml)
·       ¾ cup milk (187 ml)
·       1 tsp curry powder   (2g)
·       ½ tsp cinnamon
·       1 ½ Tbsp Worchester sauce (24g)
·       2 packed cups grated gruyere cheese (200g)
·       Paprika to sprinkle on top
·       Optional, but recommended: 1 Tbsp lemon juice & 3 Tbsp dry white wine & 1/3 cup grated Parmesan

Prepare chicken broth with boiling water and a bullion cube, or open your favorite box broth. In a large saucepan, melt the butter over low heat, add the flour and cook the mixture (roux), stirring with a whisk for 2 minutes. Slowly add the broth, stirring (mixture will clump, just keep whisking) and bring the mixture to a boil and stir often for approx 10 minutes.  You now have gravy. Fold the mayonnaise, milk, curry powder, cinnamon, Worchester sauce, Gruyere cheese and if using the lemon juice, wine and Parmesan cheese into the mixture and stir until the cheese melts.
Using a 2 quart casserole dish (or a 9x13 baking pan), spread the cooked chicken pieces, top with the cooked broccoli, and pour the gravy mixture over the top. Sprinkle with paprika. Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes. Can be kept in a 175 degree oven for up to an hour. Just before serving, place under the broil if desired.

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