Make Ahead Chicken Divan is the perfect dish to serve at a dinner party or anytime for that matter. Tender chicken and fresh broccoli are cooked in a luscious white sauce and topped with Parmesan cheese and paprika. It’s a breeze to put together and is absolutely delicious, especially when paired with yellow rice with peas. Your guests will think that you slaved all day in the kitchen!
Make Ahead Chicken Divan is one of my old-old recipes. I often served it at dinner parties when I didn’t have much time. Because it was made ahead of time, I could pull it out of the refrigerator and pop it into the oven while the guests were enjoying appetizers. Thirty minutes later, it was time for dinner!
Ingredients for Make Ahead Chicken Divan
I used the following ingredients for this awesome dish: Chicken breasts, Kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper, unsalted butter, fresh broccoli, all-purpose flour, milk, sour cream, freshly grated Parmesan cheese and paprika. The paprika is optional. However, I sprinkle it on for color contrast with the white sauce and green broccoli!
Pre-Cooking the Broccoli and Chicken
First, I started by giving both the broccoli and the chicken a head start. I steamed the broccoli for about 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, the broccoli had turned a brilliant green. If you don’t have a steamer basket, you can boil the broccoli in some water for several minutes and drain it well.
Next, I sprinkled the chicken with some salt and pepper. Then, I placed it in a skillet set over medium heat with some melted butter. I cooked the chicken on both sides for about 3 minutes per side. After I removed the chicken from the pan, I cut each piece in half. This makes it easier to serve.
Making the White Sauce
The last step before putting the Chicken Divan together was making the white sauce. I started by melting some butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Then, I added some flour and whisked the mixture until it was smooth. I let the roux cook for a minute or so to get rid of the raw flour taste. However, I made sure that the flour didn’t start to brown.
After that, I added the milk and whisked the sauce until it started to thicken. This took several minutes. Next, I added some salt, pepper and sour cream. I continued whisking the sauce for another minute or so to make sure that everything was well combined.
Finishing the Make Ahead Chicken Divan
With all of the components ready, I started building the Make Ahead Chicken Divan. First, I arranged the broccoli with the florets facing out in a casserole dish that I had sprayed with non-stick spray. Then, I place the chicken in the middle of the casserole dish. Next, I poured the white sauce over the chicken. Finally, I sprinkled on some freshly grated Parmesan cheese and paprika.
The Chicken Divan can be made in advance up to this point and refrigerated until you’re ready to bake it.
I placed the Chicken Divan in a preheated 350° F oven for about 30 minutes until the sauce was bubbly. While the casserole was baking, I made some yellow rice with peas to serve with the Chicken Divan. I cooked the rice according to the package directions. When the rice was done, I added the frozen green peas and gave the mixture a stir.
I served the Make Ahead Chicken Divan with the yellow rice with peas, my Crusty French Bread and a chilled Chardonnay. Talk about good. Yum!
Make Ahead Chicken Divan
- 1 pound chicken breasts skinned and boned, seasoned with salt and pepper
- 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
- 12 ounces fresh broccoli stalks
- 3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 cups milk
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 2 Tablespoons sour cream
- 3 Tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Paprika for color, optional
- Preheat oven to 350º F.
- Lightly brown chicken breasts seasoned with salt and pepper in 1 tablespoon of the butter, about 3 minutes per side. Set aside. (See Tip 1)
- Steam broccoli for 5 minutes. Set aside. (See Tip 2)
- To prepare cream sauce, heat remaining 3 tablespoons of butter in a saucepan. Add flour, and cook 2 minutes over medium heat, making sure that the flour does not brown. Gradually add milk, whisking or stirring constantly. Cook and whisk until mixture comes to a boil and is thickened and smooth. Add 1 teaspoon of salt, ¼ teaspoon of pepper and 2 tablespoons of sour cream. Whisk until well combined.
- Arrange broccoli, with the florets facing out in a casserole dish sprayed with non-stick spray. Place chicken in center of casserole dish. Pour sauce evenly over chicken. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and paprika. (See Tip 3)
- Bake at 350º F for 25 to 30 minutes or until bubbly. Serve with yellow rice and green peas, crusty French bread and a chilled white wine such as chenin blanc or chardonnay. Yield: 4 servings. (See Tip 4)
Chula's Expert Tips
- I like to cut the chicken breasts in half after they're cooked to make it easier to serve the Chicken Divan.
- If you don't have a steamer, you can boil the broccoli for 3 to 4 minutes and drain well.
- May be prepared in advance up to this point and refrigerated.
- This is also delicious with Mushroom Risotto.