When ever I hear the words chicken divan I imagine Audrey Hepburn in white gloves, smiling gently and talking to friends about flowers and the books they’ve read. It always just sounds so elegant — and it’s supposed to be. It was the brain child of a chef at New York’s Divan Parisienne restaurant in the early 1950s and was nothing like the squishy, salty stuff that passes for Chicken Divan now.
Chicken Divan has turned into a comfort casserole and I just think a name like that deserves a fancier dish. So, this is how I think Chicken Divan should look. Elegant, beautiful, fancy but so easy that it’s mindless. I like easy recipes, don’t you?
Of course you do.
You know, in the 1950s and 60s people were much less casual than they are now. You never called an adult by their first name, you always changed clothes when it was time to go shopping — even if it was just to the grocery store. Church meant hats and gloves. Family dinners were an every night thing. I miss it, I really do. I don’t know that we have gotten better by becoming more relaxed. I saw someone come to church a few Sundays ago in Dorm Pants and flip flops. I am not joking. A couple of decades ago that girl would have found herself being dragged to the altar by a couple of grannies with beehive hair-dos. It was sort of like the bouncers in a club – they were the A Team. If you came to church inappropriately dressed you were definitely going to meet Jesus one way or another — the altar or the morgue. I always kind of thought the altar was less painful of the two.
I miss frilly aprons and cloth napkins and tables that have two forks next to each plate. We have lost something in our race to become more relaxed. It’s called class.
You won’t find mushy veggies, too much salt, or weird additives in this dish. It will take you about thirty minutes to make and the flavor will knock your socks off. Here’s what you do. Take the afternoon off and watch Breakfast at Tiffany’s or some other completely elegant Audrey Hepburn movie. You know, to get yourself in the right mind set. Then whip this up and just revel in the feeling of eating something amazing.
After all, if it’s served in puff pastry it has to be good, right?
- 1 package frozen puff pastry shells, baked according to package directions and hollowed out
- ½ pound of broccoli, steamed until crisp tender and then chopped
- ¼ cup unsalted butter
- ¼ cup red bell pepper, chopped
- 1.4 cup celery, chopped
- 2/4 cup onion, chopped
- ¼ cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 5 tablespoons flour
- 2 cups chicken broth
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 3 tablespoons white wine
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan or cheese of choice (gouda is perfect!)
- 1½ pounds boneless chicken breasts
- Poach the chicken breasts in the chicken broth until done.
- Remove the chicken and dice it.
- Reserve the broth.
- Melt ¼ cup butter in a saucepan.
- Add the onion, celery, and bell pepper.
- Saute until just tender.
- Remove vegetables from the pan.
- Add the other ¼ cup butter and melt it.
- Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes.
- Add the broth, wine, and cream.
- Stir over medium heat until the sauce thickens.
- Stir in the Parmesan or other cheese.
- Add the broccoli, lemon, chicken, and vegetables.
- Spoon into the puff pastry shells and serve hot.