Comfort in a Casserole Pan: Divine Chicken Divan
I did not grow up on casseroles. My mom is lactose intolerant and back in the pre-vegan-fad-world there were not a lot of options when it came to cheese and milk product replacements. Needless to say, creamy, rich dishes such as pasta alfredo and cheesy casseroles were not the norm at my house. I also grew up in NY, where you were more likely to be eating Italian dishes or Chinese takeout than hearty country-style dishes.
My husband, on the other hand, grew up in Oregon with a very traditional American food kind of family. Family cookbooks that were passed down to me feature recipes such as Tamale Pie, retro jello molds, homemade bread, and casseroles. The best one of them all though is TURKEY DIVAN.
Now, I haven’t made the dish with turkey because I usually make other things with our leftovers from Thanksgiving. I don’t typically roast a turkey either these days- it just takes too long. My solution: grocery store rotisserie chicken. It is the best way to get this dish on the table quickly, and 1 chicken can make a double batch of chicken divan or a batch of soup the following day.
What could be more classic American than a chicken, rice, creamy sauced casserole? Chicken divan features a layer of rice, followed by broccoli and chicken, all topped with a lemony sauce with a hint of curry. When my mother in law and I first made this dish together, we used chicken that we precooked from scratch, and fresh broccoli that we chopped and boiled prior to assembling the casserole. Of course, that was delicious, but I find that my chicken shortcut and using frozen chopped broccoli cut down on cook and cleanup time.
- 3 cups cooked rice
- 1 13 oz package frozen chopped broccoli (thawed)
- 1/2 rotisserie chicken (meat removed and cut into bite sized pieces)
- 1 23 oz can cream of chicken soup
- 1 cup mayonaise
- 2 lemons, juiced (may need more or less according to taste and how juicy the lemons are)
- 3 Tbsp curry powder (add more or less according to your taste)
- 1 16 oz package grated cheddar
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 9x14" or similar sized pan with cooking spray. Arrange the rice, broccoli and chicken in layers (pictured above).
In a separate bowl, mix together the cream of chicken soup and mayo until well combined. Gradually add the lemon juice and curry, tasting as you go, until it is lemony enough for your taste and has a nice zip from the curry. (I like it heavy on the lemon and curry, but you may like it milder.)
Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until bubbly. Remove from the oven, remove the foil and top with cheddar cheese. Continue to cook until the cheese is melted and slightly browned, about another 10-15 minutes. Serve with a fresh salad and bread, as desired.
For this recipe, I usually use plain white rice. I have made it with brown rice too, adding a bit of fiber to the dish and making it *slightly* healthy-ish.
One of the best things about being a blogger is sharing recipes that I LOVE with my readers. This one is a frequent request in our house and I’ve never met a person who didn’t love it. My husband’s aunt has even confessed that she can barely resist licking the plate when she makes it! I hope you love the recipe as much as we do- be sure to rate it and leave a comment if you do!