Chicken Divan is one of my all-time favorite meals. When I was growing up, everyone got to pick their favorite meal to have for their birthday dinner. Mine was always chicken divan. My mom would play around with the recipe, too, and no matter what she added, it was still my favorite dish. Now, as an adult living in the South, I have had so many iterations of chicken divan at potlucks with interesting additions like curry powder or even raisins, but I always come back around to my version - I think it's the best ;)
First, make 2 servings of rice using your usual method. I don't own a rice cooker so I make it on the stove: bring 2 cups of low-sodium chicken broth to a boil, add in a pinch of salt, a dash of Italian seasoning, and then 1 cup of rice. Immediately turn the stove to low, put on the lid, and turn the stove off after 18 minutes. That is my fool-proof method for making rice.
While the rice is cooking, bake a chicken breast rubbed with a 1/4 tsp of garlic powder, 1/4 tsp Italian seasoning, and 1 tbsp dijon mustard in the oven on 350 for 15 minutes*. Chop up one small head of broccoli and steam in the microwave for 4 minutes.
When I make this, I bake the chicken in the oval-shaped dish above before removing it to the cutting board. I re-spray the pan with cooking spray and add the rice to this dish. This saves me time and is less to clean up later while also preserving all of those flavors from when I cooked the chicken and transferring them to the rice!
*If you don't want/have the time to bake a chicken breast, you can definitely use leftover chicken or pick up a rotisserie chicken on your way home and just use the meat of one breast.
Then make the basic sauce to mix into the chicken and broccoli. Like I mentioned earlier, there are so many variations of this recipe out in the world, so feel free to play around with this part! This is where you can really add your unique touch - like I do with horseradish, here. Roasted garlic would be a great addition, or even a splash of fish sauce! Either would add a funky umami flavor.
For this mixture, combine 1/4 cup mayonnaise (Duke's is THE. BEST. Don't let anyone tell you different), 1 tbsp dijon mustard, 1 tsp prepared horseradish, and 1-2 tsps to taste of lemon juice*, and a sprinkle of salt.
*I used the bottled lemon juice because I didn't have any fresh lemons. That's another great thing about this recipe - you most likely have all of these ingredients at home all the time. The chicken breast I used was one I had previously frozen in an individual Ziploc bag after buying a big pack of them at the store. You can always use frozen broccoli if you don't have any fresh, and everyone has rice, right?
Dice or shred the chicken breast, add to the broccoli (make sure you drain out any water leftover from steaming), and pour on the sauce!
This is going to be so creamy and tangy. It's making my mouth water all over again just looking at these photos!
If you're mixing all of this together and it still seems a little dry, alternate adding each of the sauce ingredients 1 tsp (horseradish, lemon, or dijon) or 1 tbsp (mayo) at a time until you get a creamy consistency and the same flavor is maintained.
Next, pour the creamy chicken and broccoli mixture on top of the rice. See how this is glossy and creamy without being too gloopy? This is what you're aiming for. However, if you like yours a little thicker, be my guest! Like I've said, this is totally a dish you can customize to your liking. Have fun with it!
These are your last three ingredients: shredded cheddar (I had mild on hand, but I usually prefer sharp), Italian breadcrumbs, and cooking spray - use whichever flavor you like. We are just going to layer these on top!
Then top with breadcrumbs and spray lightly with cooking spray so the breadcrumbs brown nicely.
Bake at 350 (keep your oven on from cooking the chicken) for 25 minutes until the top is brown and bubbly and the cheese is melted.
This is the perfect size for two people or if you're just feeding yourself, have half for dinner and save the other half for your lunch the next day! You could double this recipe as well to feed a family of four. A simple salad on the side is the perfect accompaniment but if you just want to eat this by itself...I won't tell anyone.
Here's the recipe!
Food that maximizes flavor and minimizes effort and time.