Does anybody remember Chicken Divan? ("Chicken Divan" is French for "Chicken Sofa," or "Couch Chicken," if that helps to jog your memory.)
We had some leftover rotisseried chicken, and a pretty bunch of broccoli from the garden, and if that doesn't say Chicken Divan, then maybe it says chicken soup, or chicken-broccoli salad, or chicken-broccoli pasta, or...
But no. We wanted the Chicken Divan. And what better place to look up a retro recipe than the Joy of Cooking?
Except the 1997 version of Joy of Cooking is free of Chicken Divan. It has been expunged. Hopelessly passé, I guess.
I had to refer to my previous edition of the Joy, which I'm glad I kept. It's the version with instructions on how to clean and hang venison, how to cook squirrel, how to concoct "quick soups" (hint: a can opener will be necessary).
Ta da! There it was. Chicken Divan. Basically, cooked chicken layered in a casserole, covered with slightly steamed broccoli, and drowned in a cheese sauce, aka Sauce Rebecca de Mornay. In a twist new to me, this old recipe suggested building the casserole atop a layer of buttered toast (optional), and I liked the idea. All your basic food groups in a single pan. Bake for half an hour, and you got a meal that will last you all day long.
Cranky was totally game for this dish. But he dreaded to think how bland it was going to taste.
It didn't taste bland. At all. First of all, the rotisseried chicken is first-rate, and is heavily seasoned with herbs. Second, the broccoli from our garden is sweet and rich and vivid — terroir de Marin.
Finally, the Rebecca de Mornay sauce was made with two, no, three kinds of cheese, and jacked up with a teensy hit of habanero powder.
Was it old-fashioned? I guess so, but I say Bring Back Chicken Sofa!