It’s time to start thinking about dinner, isn’t it? The Chicken Divan dish was popularized at the Divan Parisian Restaurant in New York’s Chatham Hotel. There is some disagreement about when exactly it was invented though. Some sources say the early 20th century, but others say 1950s. It was apparently invented by a chef named Lagasi but I haven’t yet been able to find any sort of independent verification of that. Postcards of the restaurant date from as early as 1945. It is now long gone, but it’s former address was 17 East 45th Street, putting it in between Madison and 5th Avenue. It was a short walk to Rockefeller Center, Grand Central Station, and the New York Public Library among others.
But, let’s call it what it is, right? This is a chicken & broccoli casserole. Even though it was the signature dish at the restaurant, it became more commonly made in home kitchens with cream of chicken soup & potato chip crumbs. It was historically made with a mornay sauce – a cheesy cream sauce of Gruyere and Parmesan cheeses, chicken and broccoli. Here it is made with gravy and Parmesan cheese.
2 c broccoli florets
2 jars of chicken gravy
1/2 c grated Parmesan cheese (divided)
12 slices or 2 (breast)
1 c slivered almonds
Steam broccoli. Heat gravy to a boil. Add nutmeg. Stir cheese until melted. Remove from heat. Place broccoli in buttered 1 qt casserole. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Place chicken over top evenly. Sprinkle with almonds. Pour sauce over all. Bake 350º 25-30 minutes.