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~The Retro History of Divine Divan Chicken Casserole~

6a0120a8551282970b01b7c8bab6f0970bWhen I moved into my first apartment in 1974, Chicken Divan was the second meal I cooked -- lasagna was my first.  I didn't choose it randomly, it was a dish I loved to eat when I was growing up.  It was on page 306 of my bright red Betty Crocker's Cookbook.  "Betty" and the The Joy of Cooking were the only cookbooks I owned at the time and both served me, and continue to serve me, well.  Both contained wonderful recipes for my Divine Divan -- Betty Crocker's recipe was a bit less complicated, but, it was scratch-made (no cream of anything soup or mayonnaise).

6a0120a8551282970b01bb095d8e5e970dChicken divan is a baked casserole containing poached white-meat chicken and blanched broccoli florets enrobed in creamy béchamel sauce (it's called Morney sauce if cheese is added).  This rich-and-decadent creamy casserole was invented in the 1940's and was a popular, medium-budget chicken entrée on the menus of fine-dining restaurants and country club catering menus during the 1960's and 70's, which is where I originally encountered it. Chicken Divan 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 to serve at a fancier gatherings.  It can be served with toast points, buttered noodles or steamed rice -- noodles are my favorite.

6a0120a8551282970b01b8d243f1e0970cChicken divan is classic American. It was created in the 1940's in the Divan Parisienne 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, I have been told that in the Divan Parisien restaurant, diners ate at tables that were drawn up to small sofas (or divans).  Photo courtesy of Card Cow.

Try my Classic & Comforting Chicken Divan Casserole:

6a0120a8551282970b01b8d2447c33970cTry my Creamy & Comforting Retro Tuna Noodle Casserole too:

6a0120a8551282970b01b7c8b89322970b"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2022)


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