Have you noticed that I am really getting into a groove here with these comfort food make-overs? Today I made Chicken Divan– about 100,006 times more healthy with no mayonnaise and a ton of creamy yummy flavor. This casserole is made entirely from-scratch with fresh broccoli!
You know how when you shop while hungry you buy all sorts of random stuff? Bad idea! Well how about when you shop somewhere you don’t normally go? That’s equally as bad.
This past weekend Jase, the girls and I went to a store we don’t normally shop at. I had a humungous list, with stuff for work, stuff for the school week, stuff for dinner… It was epic. So this was destined to be a long shop.
We made it out in about an hour with everything on our list (except inexplicably milk and half and half.) And we also ended up with about a thousand things that weren’t on our list!
Part of that is due to the fact that the hubby was along and no matter where we shop, he loves to act like his 8 year old self and put junk food into the cart while I am not looking. And then pretend he doesn’t know where the Sriracha Wasabi Peas came from…
But it was also a super long and note worthy experience because when you’re not just going through the usual “one of these, two of these. I always buy this thing.” You end up looking around and see a whole world of groceries to discover and try. Which can be cool.
But it can also be sad. Because what I also noticed and was struck by, was the massive amount of processed food-products in the middle aisles of the grocery store. The packages of noodle bake kits and not real food convenience meals with maltodextrin used to keep the food-product particles in perfect suspension. It was depressing.
You know what would cheer us up after all that? What would give us hope? Some comfort food! That’s made entirely from scratch and healthier. Enter this no-mayo Chicken Divan!
How to Make Healthy Chicken Divan
Chicken Divan is a broccoli and Chicken casserole in creamy gravy that’s enriched with mayonnaise. It is crazy yummy, but normally mega high in calories. I had to play around with this healthier formula a bit because I wanted to make it without the added calories of mayonnaise, but I wanted it to seem rich and saucy like traditional Chicken Divan.
I decided that I wanted to try to make the chicken and the vegetable sauce in one pot, so I first seared the chicken to brown it, and to increase the flavor of the sauce. Next I sautéed the garlic and onion in the skillet with the fond from the chicken. Then comes sherry, which always makes recipes taste a million times more comfort-foody in my opinion. I thickened the broth with a basic flour slurry. Then finished it with a small yet vital amount of sour cream. (Just a ¼ for 6 servings—worth every gram of fat!) Parmesan seals the deal. Oh my gosh you guys! You have to try this.
But wait, there’s more! Did I really just say that?
It was the broccoli that was an issue. Getting that soft- soaked in gravy texture, with-out making it yucky soft. That’s where I stumbled. After a couple tries, I ended up finding that if I zapped it in the microwave quickly to soften it ever so slightly it cooked more quickly but didn’t get mushy. It cooks more in the oven as the breadcrumb topping browns, and the end result is that classic tender broccoli texture everyone knows and loves about chicken divan.
This is comfort food my friends. Spoon this over egg noodles and you’ll never glance at another processed meal kit packet again.
PS. Folks in the Vermont area, please join me for a book signing at Phoenix Books in Burlington on November 26th!
This Chicken Divan is a healthy comfort food make over made with no mayonnaise. The chicken and tons of broccoli are cooked in a creamy sauce in one pot. Ready in under 1 hour it’s the perfect cozy Winter dinner!
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil divided
- 1 pound boneless-skinless chicken breast cut into bite-sized chunks
- 1 large onion diced
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- ½ teaspoon dry thyme
- ¼ cup sherry
- 2 cups chicken broth divided
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese divided
- ¼ cup sour cream
- 2 pieces medium crowns Broccoli chopped into small (about 6 cups)
- ½ cup water
- 3 tablespoons panko
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees Coat a 2 ½ quart baking dish with cooking spray.
- Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook, stirring once or twice, until browned on the outside and just cooked through, 7 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a plate and tent with foil.
- Return the skillet to medium heat and add 2 teaspoons oil. Add onion, garlic, salt, pepper and thyme and cook, stirring often until the onion is softened and starting to brown slightly, 3 to 4 minutes. Add sherry, increase heat to high and simmer, scraping up any browned bits (fonuntil the sherry is almost completely evaporated, 1 to 3 minutes.
- Stir in 1 ½ cups broth and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Stir the remaining ½ cup broth and flour in a small bowl to make a slurry. Gradually whisk the slurry into the simmering vegetable mixture. Bring to a simmer, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat. Stir in 1/3 cup parmesan and sour cream. Stir in the chicken and any accumulated juices.
- Meanwhile, place broccoli and ½ cup water in a microwave safe bowl. Cover with a layer of parchment and then a layer of plastic wrap and microwave until the broccoli is bright green, about 2 minutes. Carefully remove cover, drain broccoli.
- Add the broccoli to the chicken mixture. Mix thoroughly. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish. Top with the remaining 1/3 cup Parmesan. Mix the remaining 1 teaspoon oil with panko and paprika in a small dish. Sprinkle over the casserole. Bake until hot all the way through and the top is golden, 15 to 22 minutes.