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.
This recipe is 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 enjoyed the appetizers. Thirty minutes later, it was time for dinner!
Ingredients: Here’s What You’ll Need
Chicken Divan is a delicious dish made with chicken and broccoli cooked an a yummy white sauce.
- The Chicken: I like to use skinless and boneless chicken breasts in this dish. Usually I brine the chicken for a couple of hours in a mixture of a quart (4 cups) of cold water, ¼ cup of Kosher salt and ¼ cup of granulated sugar. You’d be amazed at the difference that brining makes to the chicken!
- The Broccoli: Generally, I use fresh broccoli florets in this recipe. However, you could also use frozen broccoli florets.
- The White Sauce: The white sauce or bechamel sauce is pretty standard: unsalted butter, all-purpose flour, milk, salt and pepper. However, I like to add a bit of sour cream to add some richness to the sauce.
- The Rest of the Ingredients: To enhance the taste, I added freshly grated parmesan cheese sprinkled with paprika for a color contrast with the green broccoli.
Pre-Cooking the Broccoli and Chicken
First, I started by giving both the broccoli and the chicken a head start.
- I cooked the broccoli in boiling salted water for about five minutes until it was crisp-tender.
- After five minutes, the broccoli had turned a brilliant green. I drained the broccoli and added it to ice water to stop the cooking. Then, I drained the broccoli well.
- Next, I cut the chicken breasts in half and sprinkled them with salt and pepper. Then, I cooked the chicken in melted butter over medium heat for about three minutes per side.
I removed the chicken to a plate and moved on to making the white sauce.
Here’s How I Made 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 until the sauce was thick and bubbly.
Here’s How I Finished 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, surrounded by the broccoli.
- Next, I poured the shite sauce over the chicken, leaving most of the broccoli uncovered.
- Finally, I sprinkled on some freshly grated Parmesan cheese and paprika.
The Chicken Divan can be made in advance up to this point, covered with aluminum foil 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 baking the casserole, 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!
Frequently Asked Questions
You can make this recipe up to a day in advance, covered with aluminum foil and refrigerated. You will need to increase the time in the oven by 5 to 10 minutes.
This dish was named after the Divan Parisien Restaurant in the Chatham Hotel in New York City where it was the signature dish in the 20th century.
Leftovers, if any can be covered and refrigerated. I generally reheat the leftovers in the microwave for several minutes.
Tips and Tricks
- I don’t know about you, but I’ve gotten tired of tough chicken in recipes. Therefore, I brined the chicken for this recipe for several hours. I use a simple brine consisting a quart of cold water mixed with ¼ cup of Kosher salt and ¼ cup of granulated sugar. You would be amazed at the difference brining makes
- Sometimes I will steam the broccoli for about five minutes rather than cooking it in salted water.
- I like the broccoli florets to be roughly the same size for appearance. If I use frozen broccoli florets in this dish, I trim the broccoli of any tough stems.
- This dish serves four. Therefore, I generally will use 12 broccoli florets. Each serving contains three broccoli florets.
- Rather than serving this dish with yellow rice with green peas, sometimes I’ll serve it with mushroom risotta, which is delicious.
Other Make Ahead Dishes
Many of my recipes, like the Chicken Divan can be made ahead of time. If you’re busy like I am and are interested in other make ahead recipes, you’ve come to the right place.
- Make-Ahead Vegetable Tian
- Make Ahead Cottage Pie
- Make-Ahead Broccoli Rice Casserole
- Best Ultimate Make-Ahead Creamy Macaroni And Cheese
- Easy Cheesy Make Ahead Zucchini Gratin Casserole
- Make Ahead Duchess Potatoes (Easy and Delicious)
- Make Ahead Muffin Tin Macaroni and Cheese Cups
- Make Ahead Spinach Artichoke Tartlets (An Easy Appetizer)
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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 florets (about 12) (See Tip 1)
- 3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 cups milk
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 2 Tablespoons sour cream
- ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Paprika for color, optional
- Preheat oven to 350ºF. Spray 2 ½ quart casserole dish with nonstick spray. Set aside.
- Cut chicken breasts in half. Lightly brown chicken breasts seasoned with salt and pepper in 1 tablespoon of butter, about 3 minutes per side. Set aside. (See Tip 2)
- Cook broccoli in boiling salted water for 5 minutes. Drain and add to ice water to stop the cooking. Drain well; set aside. (See Tip 3)
- To prepare cream sauce, heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add flour, and cook for 2 minutes over medium heat, ensuring that the flour does not brown. Gradually add milk, whisking or stirring constantly. Cook and whisk until the 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 the prepared casserole dish. Place chicken in the center of the casserole dish. Pour sauce evenly over the chicken. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and paprika. (See Tip 4)
- Bake at 350ºF for 30 minutes or until bubbly. Serve with yellow rice and green peas, crusty French bread, and chilled white wine such as Chenin blanc or chardonnay. Yield: 4 servings. (See Tip 4)
- May substitute frozen broccoli florets for fresh broccoli. Ensure that the florets are roughly the same size and have been trimmed of any tough stalks.
- Rather than boil the broccoli, you can steam it.
- May be prepared in advance up to this point, covered, and refrigerated.
- This is also delicious with Mushroom Risotto.