Friday, April 4, 2008

April 4: Chicken Divan

Today is my mother's 68th birthday. Happy birthday, Mary. You don't read this and with any luck you'll never know that such a thing as a blog exists, let alone that I write one, but happy birthday nonetheless.

I have an enormous soft spot for retro food, old-fashioned comfort food that my grandmother made when my mother was young. Lots of it needs to be remodeled, desperately--way too much of it is heavy, canned, full of salt and high-fructose corn syrup, fattening, and no longer that interesting.

I have to admit that despite my disinterest in most of what they do, Cook's Country has a recipe in it for Chicken Divan. Their description of the original dish sounds fussy to a really unnecessary degree: "The original recipe from New York's famed (and now defunct) Divan Parisien restaurant dates back almost 100 years and required a whole poached chicken, boiled broccoli, and a sauce made with bechamel sauce, hollandaise sauce, Parmesan cheese and whipped cream." Yikes.

Yeah, no wonder there's usually so much canned soup involved in most renditions of Chicken Divan. I am just not into either option. But Cook's Country just really looks like they have a great take on this sucker--it looks opulent and delicious and fabulous. I am planning on trying this over the weekend.

Modern Chicken Divan

3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/2 pounds broccoli, stalks discarded, florets cut into bite-sized pieces
2 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 medium shallots, minced
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup dry sherry
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese
3 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3 tablespoons unsalted butter

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat broiler. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add broccoli and cook until spotty brown, about 1 minute. Add 1/2 cup broth, cover, and steam until just tender, about 1 1/2 minutes. Remove lid and cook until liquid has evaporated, about 1 minute. Transfer broccoli to plate lined with paper towels; rinse and wipe out skillet.

Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in now-empty skillet over medium-high heat until smoking. Meanwhile, season chicken with salt and pepper and dredge in flour to coat. Cook chicken until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to plate.

Off heat add shallots to skillet and cook until just beginning to color, about 1 minute. Add remaining 2 cups broth and cream and scrape fond from bottom of pan. Return chicken to skillet and simmer over medium heat until cooked through, about 10 minutes. Transfer chicken to clean plate and continue to simmer sauce until reduced to 1 cup, about ten minutes. Add sherry and Worcestershire and simmer until reduced again to one cup, about 3 minutes.

Stir in 1 cup parmesan. Whisk yolks and lemon juice ina small bowl, then whisk in about 1/4 cup sauce. Off heat, whisk egg yolk mixture into sauce in skillet, then whisk into butter.

Cut chicken into 1/2 inch thick slices and arrange on broiler-safe plate. Scatter broccoli over chicken, and pour sauce over broccoli. Sprinkle with remaining parmesan cheese and broil until golden brown, 3-5 minutes. Serve.

1 comment:

merseydotes said...

I love Chicken Divan, but my recipe comes from the cookbook of the Junior League of Lafayette Louisiana and does use cream of something soup and shredded cheddar cheese. This would definitely be a step up in the taste department.