Chicken Divan = Revisit the 1950s Dinner Hour

Take a trip down memory lane to the 1950s and you might remember ducking under the desks in school for practice drills for a nuclear attack by the Soviets. Elvis Presley becomes the king of Rock and Roll and the “Church” condemns his hip swiveling moves. (Oh boy!) Dinner was not something that people did once in a while, nor was it Take Out, frozen, or packaged. People ate dinner together nightly.

Ironically, this week I heard a report how a Columbia University study showed that families that eat dinner together at least 3 times a week have less of a problem with obesity. They also eat less junk food.  Best of all, they talk to each other.

Time Magazine has a great article on the benefits of family dinners.

“Family dinner in the Norman Rockwell mode had taken hold by the 1950s: Mom cooked, Dad carved, son cleared, daughter did the dishes.”

“A meal is about civilizing children. It’s about teaching them to be a member of their culture. Read more:,9171,1200760-2,00.html#ixzz1LKmBJ6z0

Many times I heard Bill, the Sunday Chef, say to his children when they were small, “The only responsibility I have is to make sure you are civilized.”  I used to laugh inwardly at his seriousness, but admired his idealism.  Bill cooked great dinners even then.  Little did I know, how important this idea was.

His kids are culinary sophisticates. (Does your kid ask you for home made French Onion Soup for their birthday?)

This recipe comes to you directly from the source of all things dinner and rich and satisfying. Thanks to the chef for reviving a 1950’s casserole – Chicken Divan.  Brilliant.  (Don’t think about the calories. The portions are small.) Serve with a salad.

Dessert: : Pineapple Upside Down Cake.  (Made by moi.)



Serves 6-7

5 tablespoons of butter

Chopped shallots (Green onions)

2-2 lb Heads of broccoli stems removed

4 Chicken breasts sliced

2 cups of chicken broth

12 slices of cooked chicken breast

1 package of slivered almonds (1 Cup)

1 cup of grated Parmesan Cheese

1 cup of half and half

Pinch of nutmeg

3 tablespoons of dry sherry

½ cup of heavy cream


Sauté chopped shallots in 5 tablespoons of butter. Then coat the baking dish with butter/shallots.

Cook Broccoli in a steamer. Next arrange the broccoli on bottom of baking dish. Top with ¼  cup of Parmesan.

Poach slices of chicken in chicken broth (2 cups) put cooked chicken on top of broccoli.

Cover with 1 package slivered almonds.

Reduce chicken stock to 1 cup.

Then make a roux: melt 4 tablespoons of butter and add 4 tablespoons of flour.  To the roux add 1 cup half and half + 1 cup chicken broth from poaching.  Add ½ cup Parmesan cheese, pinch of nutmeg and 3 tablespoons of dry sherry. Cook until thick.

Beat ½ cup heavy cream into stiff peaks. Fold into cheese sauce. Cover chicken with the sauce. Top with 1/4 cup Parmesan. Bake 30+ minutes at 375.

This is an easy-make-ahead dinner that can be popped in the oven right before serving and it’s Divan. (Sorry. Couldn’t help myself.)

Chicken Divan (pronounced deevAHn) is named for a by-gone New York restaurant.  I know, because I ate there in the mid 1950’s.  The Divan Parisien Restaurant was at 33 East 48th Street and Chicken Divan was its specialty.   The banquettes that lined the walls were not exactly couches, but at the time I assumed they formed the “divan” that inspired the name of the restaurant.  Not so.  The word “divan” is of Turkish origin and has several meanings, ranging from the Sultan’s council chamber to the kind of furniture (e.g., elaborate couches) one might find there.  In English the word almost always refers to furniture, but in French it can also mean a special meeting place.  It seems to me the restaurateur wished his place to be a place for important people to congregate and enjoy French food Parisian style.”- J. J. Schnebel retrieved from:

Your comments and recipes are welcome.

About kunstkitchen

Visual artist and writer hunting words, languages, visions, and insight in my kitchen - connecting Art (Kunst) and culture and slow food cooking. Credits: Do not own a microwave oven and never have. Do not own a food processor. Chopped veggies in a Zen monastery for a weekend. (Seriously) Classically trained artist. Paint and draw with traditional materials. Live in the Northland where it's six months of winter. Appreciate the little things in life. Sharing food and art experiences and the lessons that my talented and generous friends have given me.
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