When it comes to leftovers, it often seems that the husbands rather than the children don’t want to eat yesterday’s meal. (But as I’m fond of saying, this is the meat and potatoes of another post.)
My dear readers, perhaps you’re old enough to remember that ladies’ luncheons in the 1960s always served chicken divan. The dish was named for the Divan Parisien Restaurant at the Chatham Hotel in New York City, where it was created. However, most of us are probably more familiar with the “quick” version using creamed soup, which was the result of a soup company’s marketing campaign to make homemakers’ lives easier.
It doesn’t take much effort to make this meal look new and downright elegant to boot, especially if you’ve been scratching your head to use up any rotisserie or leftover chicken. This dish will make it look like you just cooked them fresh today, and you might just want to serve it to company soon.
Chicken and broccoli divan is one of my favorite recipes from the past. The first time I was fortunate to eat this delightfully easy meal was at the home of my niece, Kerry. She even informed all of us beforehand that she had nothing in the house to prepare, but then she pulled off a superb dinner that appealed even to my somewhat picky eater of a husband, Bill.
If you have leftover rice, you can make a wonderful vegetarian version of this dish known as Risi e Formaggio (or rice and cheese casserole), which originated in Bergamo, Italy.
Chicken and Broccoli Divan
Chef’s note: You may use any leftover cheese in this recipe with equally delicious results. If you have any cheeses that are getting dry or there’s only a little bit left, simply grate them up and add to the ricotta. No waste, my friends. You know I share your concern on this.
This recipe serves 4 but doubles easily.
4 tablespoons butter, melted, plus more for greasing the baking dish
3 tablespoons flour (or use arrowroot to make this gluten-free)
1½ cups milk (if you like, you may replace ½ cup of the milk with broth or vegetable stock)
Sea salt and pepper, to taste
Pinch or two of freshly ground nutmeg
¼ cup mayonnaise
1 cup ricotta cheese
½ cup grated mozzarella cheese
Stalks of cooked broccoli
2 cups cold leftover or rotisserie chicken or turkey (or use 2 cups cooked rice to make this dish vegetarian)
½ cup grated Parmesan or Romano (or a combo of both)
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter a large but shallow casserole or baking dish. Set aside.
- Make a roux by blending melted butter in flour. Add milk, stirring constantly until it is thick and smooth. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Remove from heat.
- Add mayonnaise, stirring well. Combine egg and ricotta cheese, then add to the mixture. Next, add the mozzarella.
- Arrange the broccoli stalks in the bottom of baking dish. Cover with the chicken or turkey, then pour the ricotta sauce over it.
- Sprinkle Parmesan or Romano generously over the top.
- Bake 25 minutes or until bubbly, and serve immediately.
Image from iStock/IslandLeigh.