I promised I would get the Chicken Divan recipe out last week. I suppose not so much promised but definitely said I would. I gave my word. And I didn’t follow through. I truly believe in the strength of words and the actions that follow them. That being said, I am sorry I didn’t follow through.
To be as open and honest as possible, I’ll give you the low down on what happened.
Every year we go to Victoria around this time for a hockey tournament that Ben plays in. It is one of my favorite weekends of the year. We had flown up this year late on Thursday night and their first game wasn’t until 2p on Friday; so my game plan was to wake up and work for about 6 hrs, get up this blog post, and then head over to their first game.
Then rest of the weekend would be ours to enjoy - to eat good food, wander around the beautiful city, and linger in the immense comfort of being surrounded by close friends. My plan was solid and I packed accordingly. I brought my computer, my beloved notebook, and my fine point set of pens; all I ever need to get the job done.
The one thing I forgot? The fricken’ Chicken Divan Recipe!!
I could, no lie, just tell you this recipe off the top of my head. I mean, I have been eating it for 25 years!! And cooking it for the last 10 years. I could seriously just head on over to your house and whip it up!! BUT for me to TEACH YOU how to make it, I would need my notes. I would need exact measurements. I would indeed need my chicken scratch Chicken Divan Recipe that I left at home.
On top of forgetting the one thing I truly needed, I woke up Friday morning with a migraine. And for those of you who also suffer from migraines, you know how debilitating they can be. Daylight is too bright, the light in the room is too bright, noise is SO loud - all noises are too much, and it HURTS, everything just hurts. Your shoulders ache, your neck is tight, and nothing makes you comfortable. It is miserable.
My migraines have this special ability to creep into the right side of my face. The right side of my face goes numb and I get this insanely intense shooting pain behind my right eye. The pain shoots through my arm all the way down to my fingertips and it shoots through my right leg making it all the way down to my toes. I have seriously contemplated just chopping off the entire right side of my body at times. It hurts like hell.
So instead of writing my blog, going to hockey games, and enjoying the beautiful city of Victoria, I simply slept all day with a cold towel laid over my eyes. I did go out to eat thinking food and fresh air may be my cure but both times I ended up right where I started: Back in bed.
It is amazing to me what a migraine can do to you…
Take for me, for example. My brain is CONSTANTLY CHURNING. From the minute I get out of bed to the minute my head hits the pillow at night, it doesn’t shut up. I am constantly thinking of (and writing down) lists of things to do, milestone markers, task lists, items to buy, books to read, ideas I have, places to go, where to vacation, blog ideas, recipes to make, what to eat for lunch, what to snack on later, what I’m feeling for dinner, my dreams, my goals, my future aspirations… THERE IS A CONSTANT, NEVER-ENDING CHATTER IN MY BRAIN.
But when I get a migraine, my brain instantly shuts the f*&% up. I mean it, complete and utter silence. Seriously, I can be in and out of sleep all day long and not hear a peep from my brain.
I register the pain and how much I agony I am in, but I don’t think about it. My migraines have a way of turning off my brain and it doesn’t turn back on until it’s ready. There is nothing I can about it. So, without a recipe and a heavy migraine in tow, I decided to postpone this post until today. Such is life.
So without further ado, let’s chat Chicken Divan!!
My dad’s mom, my Nanny, used to always make this dish when we were growing up. My brother and I could not wait to go over to Nanny’s house for dinner just knowing that her Chicken Divan would be served. It was hot and heart-warming, cheesy and salty, easy to pile on your plate and absolutely impossible to ever get enough. Plus, my mom never made casserole dishes like this at home; so for us, it was a real treat.
When I was diagnosed with Celiacs, I learned quickly that many canned soups were no longer suited for my diet. This wasn’t an extreme bummer to me as I enjoyed making soup; my real concern was Chicken Divan. How was I going to continue making Chicken Divan? Nanny always made hers with canned Cream of Mushroom Soup…
As with everything, I started making my own Cream of Mushroom Soup. However, as per usual, I couldn’t help myself, I just had to put a twist of my own on it all!!
I started making Mushroom & Sun-dried Tomato “Soup” and then used that in my Chicken Divan. Given that the “soup” was far more like a gravy, I started using it as one! For those of who were fans of the original RylieCakes, back when it was a brick and mortar bakery, I used this gravy recipe on Saturday mornings when we made Biscuits and Gravy. IT WAS TO DIE FOR!!
We even had customers who just purchased tubs of the gravy!! They said they would use it as a sauce on pasta or dumped over chicken! So keep that in mind when going through these recipes, your end game doesn’t have to be Chicken Divan. Your options are open!!
But keeping on the Chicken Divan gravy train here :)
After making my fantastically flavorful, veggie filled gravy, the rest is easy peasy. You’ll add some spices, broccoli, and chicken to it, throw it all in a casserole dish, smother it in cheese, and bake it up. It really is THAT EASY. And ridiculously delicious. It’s a win-win.
Typically I’d give a few different options for protein substitutes or veggie swap-outs but I’ve honestly never made this recipe with anything else.
It is a classic around here and to change the basics would be a sin.
I will say though, that this is a great make ahead meal. Once the casserole is assembled, you can cover it with foil and refrigerate overnight or even a few days before baking. I’ve also been told it freezes quite well, however, I have never tried it myself.
I feel like Chicken Divan was apart of so many people’s childhoods so if you have any stories you’d like to share, I’d love to hear them!! Comment below!!
Lick the Bowl - It’s Gluten Free,
Mushroom + Sun-dried Tomato Gravy
(Yield: 12 blue scoops, I typically use 1 to 2 blue scoops
per serving when making Biscuits and Gravy)
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 lb mushrooms, quartered
8.50 oz sun-dried tomatoes, drained and thinly sliced (or buy thinly sliced)
4 oz onion, finely diced
4 sprigs rosemary
3 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp tapioca flour
2 Tbsp cornstarch
3 cups whole milk
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2 tsp sage
In large stockpot, place olive oil, mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, onion, and rosemary. Sauté over medium-high heat until mushrooms start to turn golden brown and all liquids have evaporated. Stir occasionally so nothing cooks to the bottom of the pan. Remove veggies from pot and set aside while making roux.
Place pot back on stove over medium heat and add butter. Once melted, whisk in tapioca flour and cornstarch. Cook for approximately 2 minutes until roux starts to turn golden brown.*
Slowly pour in whole milk while whisking mixture quickly. Continue to whisk until thoroughly incorporated and then adjust heat to low and allow sauce to thicken slowly. Whisk occasionally.
Once sauce has thickened to the consistency you are looking for, add salt, pepper, and sage. Taste test and season more if needed.
Remove pot from heat and add mushroom mixture back to pot. Remove rosemary stems as you do this. Use gravy as a Cream of Mushroom Soup base in all your favorite recipes, in the following Chicken Divan Recipe, or as a gravy to top biscuits, chicken, or whatever your heart desires!
*Step 2,3, and 4 can also be done in a separate pot and then poured over the mushroom mixture when done.
Not Your Grandma’s Chicken Divan
(Yield: 8 hearty servings)
1 oz butter
1.50 lb chicken, cut into bite-size pieces
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
1 batch RylieCake’s Mushroom + Sun-dried Tomato Gravy
8 oz mayonnaise
2 Tbsp curry
1 Tbsp sugar
1# broccoli, frozen or fresh
12 oz Tillamook sharp cheddar, shredded
QS fresh parsley, for topping
2.50 cups uncooked rice
Preheat oven to 350°F. Use convection bake if you have it. Spray 9-by-13-inch casserole dish with cooking spray.
Place a large stockpot over medium heat. Once warm, add butter and allow it to melt. Once melted, add chicken and season with salt and pepper. Cook until chicken is just cooked through. Do not over cook; chicken will still bake for another 20 minutes. Once done, remove chicken from pot with silted spoon and set into prepared dish making one even layer.
Make RylieCakes’s Mushroom + Sun-dried Tomato Gravy using same pot.
While gravy is cooking, prepare broccoli. I usually use frozen broccoli in a microwaveable bag. That way I can simply steam it in the microwave and toss the broccoli straight into my casserole dish. However, if you are using fresh broccoli, steam or blanche it until tender and then toss it into prepared dish. However you cook it, make an even layer broccoli over chicken layer.
When gravy is done, remove from heat and add mayonnaise, curry, and sugar. Stir to combine and then pour entire mixture over chicken and broccoli. Using a spatula, smooth gravy out so that it covers the entirety of the casserole dish.
Smother casserole with cheddar and bake for 20 minutes. At the end of 20 minutes, turn your oven over to broil and broil casserole on high for 3 to 5 minutes until cheese really starts to bubble and turn golden brown. Remove casserole from oven and let cool slightly before topping with fresh parsley and serving.
While casserole is cooking and cooling, cook rice according to package.
To serve, place a heaping scoop of rice into a bowl or onto a plate and smother with Chicken Divan. Dive in and eat your heart out :)