Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Chicken Divan and a Memory

When Mary, over at One Perfect Bite, posted a recipe for Pink Grapefruit Salad Dressing a few weeks back she couldn't have known what a strong memory it would invoke in me.  Back in the day,  not long out of college and working at The Pentagon, I was the "career woman".  Certainly (and sadly) not the "woman in the kitchen"!  Fortunately, I was the recipient of numerous dinner invitations from many of the Air Force officers (I was a civilian) with whom I worked.  Even though most of the wives kept the home fires burning with delicious food on the table for their fighting men, they were also quite interesting and fun to be around.  I began to think that I might enjoy spending a little time in the kitchen myself.

Two meals still stand out because they were so different from what was served at my mother's table and they were simple enough for me to prepare.  One was a homemade chicken pot pie (and that's for another day).  The other was Chicken Divan.  

The chicken divan, served by the wife of the colonial who was the head honcho in the office, was accompanied by a fresh citrus salad with a dressing very similar to Mary's.  Please visit Mary for this refreshingly delicious dressing.

The Chicken Divan, which seemed very complicated to me at the time, is really quite simple.  

Here's the recipe as I remember it:

Dee Dee's Chicken Divan

4 cups steamed broccoli flowerets
2 cups cook chicken breasts, cubed
1 can (10 3/4 ounces) condensed cream of chicken soup 
1/2 cup milk
1 cup shredded Cheddar or Swiss cheese
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
2 Tbsp melted butter
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1.  Lightly butter a 12" au gratin dish (or similar oven-proof dish) and scatter the chicken and broccoli about.
2.  In a small bowl, whisk the soup and milk together until well blended.  Pour the mixture over the broccoli and chicken.  Evenly sprinkle with the cheese.  Stir the bread crumbs into the melted butter and distribute evenly over the dish.  Sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese.
3.  Bake in a preheated 450 degree oven until hot and bubbling.

This was served with rice when I first had it.  I think it is quite nice with just the salad.