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~ Gobble Gobble: Divine Parisien-Style Turkey Divan ~

IMG_3838Turkey divan is a spin-off of chicken divan -- an all-American casserole invention. At this time of year, with Turkey Day just around the corner, it is, obviously, a very tasty use for leftover turkey. That said, by using quick-to-cook stovetop-poached or oven-roasted turkey tenderloins, it is a truly wonderful alternative if you want to serve turkey in a non-traditional way for a more laid-back or take-to-a-potluck feast.  Make no mistake, we're not talking "cream of canned any kind of soup" thrown into a casserole dish.  This dish is indeed real-deal creamy, comforting and divine.

IMG_5784While we're all familiar with whole, bone-in turkey and whole bone-in turkey breast or breast halves, we're not all as familiar with turkey breast tenderloins.  Weighing anywhere from 8-ounces to 1-pound each, these 7 1/2"-8" long, plump pieces of turkey are the tenderest part of the turkey. I love them, and use them occasionally, because, quite frankly, an entire turkey or a turkey breast all-to-often yields more turkey than needed, or takes more time to cook than I've got.  There's more. Trust me when I tell you, a poached or roasted turkey tenderloin served with mashed potatoes, gravy, a green vegetable and cranberry sauce is as wonderful as any oven-roasted turkey dinner.   

6a0120a8551282970b0240a4c5194e200dDivan refers to a baked casserole containing poached all-white-meat chicken (or turkey) and blanched broccoli florets enrobed in béchamel sauce (it's called Morney sauce if cheese is added). It was invented in the 1940's and was a popular, medium-budget entrée on the menus of fine-dining restaurants and country club catering menus during the 1960's and 70's, which is where I encountered it.  When I got married in 1974, it was one of the first meals I cooked out of Betty Crocker's Cookbook (p. 306), which was my first cookbook and a bridal shower gift, then afterward, from the 1975 edition of The Joy of Cooking (p. 264), which I purchased myself.

Divan-ParisienDivan is classic American. It was created in the 1940's in the Divan Parisiene Restaurant of New York City's Chatham Hotel by a chef named Lagasi.  He had entered his dish in a contest, and, after winning money for it, it became the hotel's signature dish.  In French the word "divan" means an elegant meeting place or great hall, and it was this meaning that caught the attention of the owners as they searched for a name implying continental elegance.  In America, the word "divan" had come to mean "sofa", and, in the 1940's and 50's, in the Divan Parisien restaurant, diners ate at tables that were drawn up to small sofas (divans).  (Photos of Chatham and Parisien courtesy of Card Cow.)

6a0120a8551282970b017c321a8a6d970b-320wiWhen I was a young bride and just starting to entertain, chicken divan (dī-van) was one of my favorite go-to all-occasion casseroles.  It is great served for brunch, lunch or dinner.  It can be baked in one large casserole and served family style, or, it can be baked in individual-sized casseroles and served at a fancier gatherings too.  There's more.  It can be served with or atop toast points,  buttered noodles or steamed rice -- buttered noodles are my favorite.

Note:  The following recipe fills a 2-quart casserole (11" x 7" x 2"), and, when served with toast points, buttered noodles or rice, will easily feed a family of six people. In the event you've got hungrier mouths to feed (teenagers), a bigger crowd, or want leftovers (they reheat great in the microwave), do the math, double the recipe, and, bake it in a much larger 4-quart casserole

6a0120a8551282970b01b7c8baafe2970bFor the casserole:

1 1/2-2 pounds boneless, skinless turkey tenderloins  

1  pound frozen broccoli florets, preferably medium-large, not chopped broccoli

3  14 1/2-ounce cans chicken broth, or 5 1/2-6 cups homemade stock, for poaching chicken and broccoli  (Note:  Plain, nicely salted water can be substituted, but I like the added flavor that stock or broth lends to the chicken and the broccoli.  There's more.  I don't waste a bit of it, meaning:  I don't pour it down the drain.  I add some water to it, to get the necessary amount needed, and, I boil my egg noodles in it too.)

4  tablespoons salted butter (1/2 stick)

a scant 1/8  teaspoon ground cloves

a scant 1/8  teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 1/2  teaspoons sea salt

1/2-3/4  teaspoons white pepper

1 cup small-diced yellow or sweet onion

1/4  cup Wondra Quick-Mixing Flour for Sauce and Gravy

2  tablespoons dry sherry  

2  cups heavy cream, half & half or whole milk, your choice

1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) grated Gruyère cheese

no-stick cooking spray, for preparing casserole dish

For the topping:

2 tablespoons salted butter, melted

1/2 cup French-style breadcrumbs or panko

For serving:

toast points, buttered egg noodles or steamed white rice, your choice

IMG_5803 IMG_5803 IMG_5803Step 1.  Poach (photo #1) or roast (photo #2) 1 1/2-2 pounds turkey tenderloins according to my directions provided in the links, cool until meat can be handled comfortably with the hands, then pull it into bite-sized pieces.  The alternative is to use turkey breast leftover from your Thanksgiving feast.

IMG_3738 IMG_3738 IMG_3738 IMG_3738~Step 2.  Return the saucepan of remaining stock to a simmer and add the frozen broccoli florets. Adjust heat to a steady simmer and partially cook it, until it is just thawed, 1 1/2-2 minutes.  Using the same Asian spider or large slotted spoon, transfer it to a colander and rinse it under cold running water, to halt the cooking process.  Allow to drain thoroughly, giving the colander an occasional shake every five minutes or so for about 15 minutes.  Set aside.

IMG_3754 IMG_3754 IMG_3754 IMG_3754~Step 3.  In the same saucepan, melt the butter over low heat, then, using a large spoon, stir in the spices (ground cloves, ground nutmeg sea salt and white pepper).  Add the onion and increase heat to medium and cook until onion is tender, about 1 minute.  

IMG_3766 IMG_3766 IMG_3766 IMG_3766 IMG_3766 IMG_3780 IMG_3780~Step 4.  Stir in the flour. Stirring constantly, cook for 1 full minute.  The roux will be very pasty.  Add the sherry then the cream (milk or half & half) and adjust heat to simmer.  Continue to simmer, stirring constantly until nicely-thickened but drizzly, about 2 minutes.  Lower heat to low and stir in the Gruyère.  Stir constantly until a thick Mornay sauce has formed, about 1 more minute.  Remove from heat.

IMG_3755 IMG_3755 IMG_3755 IMG_3755~Step 5.  Place the pulled turkey pieces and blanched broccoli florets in a large bowl.  Add all of the hot Mornay sauce to the bowl.  Using a large rubber spatula, gently fold in the sauce, until everything is evenly enrobed in sauce.  Do not over mix.  Do not risk breaking the turkey or broccoli into smaller pieces.  Using the spatula, transfer all of the mixture to an 11" x 7" x 2" casserole that has been sprayed with no-stick spray.  Set aside while preparing topping.

IMG_3798 IMG_3798~ Step 6.  In a 1-cup measuring container, melt 2 tablespoons of butter in microwave.  Stir the 1/2 cup of breadcrumbs into the melted butter.  Using your fingertips, sprinkle the topping mixture evenly over the entire top of the casserole.

IMG_3814 IMG_3814~ Step 7.  Bake on center rack of 350° oven, until golden brown on top and bubbling around edges, 25-30 minutes.  Remove from oven and rest 15-20 minutes prior to serving.  Use rest time to make toast points, cook egg noodles or steam rice.

Turkey, broccoli & Mornay mixture in 11" x 7" x 2" casserole:

IMG_3804Casserole w/breadcrumb topping & ready to go into oven:

IMG_3809Golden & glorious after baking in 350° oven 25-30 minutes:

IMG_3822Place toast points, buttered egg noodles or steamed rice into the bottom of six 8"-9" round or oval au gratin dishes.  Portion & place turkey divan atop each portion & serve immediately:

IMG_3848Gobble Gobble:  Divine Parisien-Style Turkey Divan: Recipe yields 6-8 hearty servings.

Special Equipment List: 4-quart saucepan, preferably nonstick; Asian spider or large slotted spoon; colander; cutting board; chef's knife; hand-held box grater; large spoon; large rubber spatula; 11" x 7" x 2" casserole; 1-cup measuring container; ordinary tablespoon

6a0120a8551282970b01b8d2c31f90970cCook's Note:  Another great use for poached or roasted turkey tenderloins is ~ The Classic Kentucky Hot Brown Turkey Sandwich ~. Simply known as "the hot brown", or "Louisville hot brown", this Kentucky ope-faced sandwich is a culinary legend.  Invented in 1926 by Fred K. Schmidt at The Brown Hotel in Louisville, unlike many other famous sandwiches, this one was no accident.  It was specifically created, from some carefully-selected, well-thought out ingredients, to please his hungry late-night crowd.  It was a sort-of spin-off of the British Welsh rarebit and Scotch woodcock (using a smooth, creamy fondue-like "cheese sauce on toast").

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2019)


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