Sunday, January 15, 2012

Chicken Divan, Lightened Up


This is traditionally a much heavier dish that has been lightened up considerably by Gina at skinnytaste.com. While my only problem with her recipes is a total lack of salt, this is easily rectified and ends up making this recipe taste great.

This is also one of those dishes that would benefit from making the individual components throughout the day, then combining everything for the casserole at dinner time.
Chicken Divan, Lightened Up
(from here)

1 lb broccoli (2 large heads) chopped
24 oz boneless skinless chicken breasts (or 18 oz cooked)
1 tbsp butter
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 shallot, minced
4 tbsp flour
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup milk
2 oz white wine
6 oz shredded reduced-fat swiss (divided)
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
salt and fresh ground pepper
cooking spray

==

Put a pot of water on the boil and get it going. Add a tablespoon of salt to season the water.

We're going to blanch the broccoli for 3 minutes then shock it in cold water to stop the cooking process.

In the meantime, get your broccoli cut up. I left it pretty big for the cooking and cut it up smaller for the casserole later.

When your water is at a strong boil, toss in your broccoli.


Cook for 3 minutes.

It should stay a nice, bright green.


Shock in a bowl of ice water.

Remove it from the water after 60 seconds so it doesn't get too waterlogged.

Chop the broccoli into small, bite-sized pieces and set aside for now. You can do this way ahead of time if you want.


==

Weigh out your chicken. I had breasts and tenders to make the weight.


Cook the chicken any way you want. I prefer a thin layer of grapeseed oil in a skillet.

Season the chicken with salt and pepper as they cook.


Pull the chicken when it's "just cooked" or even slightly under-done.

Since we're going to be baking the casserole, it's ok if it's a little under. If we cook it all the way now, it'll be dry and mealy in the casserole and that's no good.

Set the chicken aside for now. Don't slice it yet. You can stash this in the fridge too, for service later.


Since I cooked my chicken at dinner time, I had a nice pan with stuck on deliciousness to work with.

Toss in the butter and olive oil and get the heat to medium.


Throw in the garlic and shallots and sauté for 60 seconds, scraping up the bits where you can.


Sprinkle over the 4 tablespoons of flour and stir well to combine.


Cook until the flour darkens slightly. Just to a flaxen, gold color.

Don't worry if stuff starts sticking. Just turn the heat below medium.


Add the cup of milk, cup of chicken broth (mine was homemade this time!) and 2 oz of white wine.

Boost the heat to medium/high and stir well to combine. You might want to use a whisk.


Heat until you begin to see bubbles forming in the sauce and it has thickened considerably. It's not going to be super-thick like batter, but it'll be much thicker than milk.


Remove from the heat and add 3 oz (half) of the swiss cheese. I used slices and diced it up for easy melting.

Whisk to combine.


Season with salt and pepper. I used a bit of each.


I "shredded" my swiss cheese slices by cutting them into thin slices (julienne).


==

Ok, preheat the oven to 350 and let's start building the casserole.

Place the chopped broccoli into a 9x13 dish.

Give it a shake of salt and pepper.


Pour over half the sauce.

Give it a little stir to combine.


Slice up your chicken and add it over the top. Again, it's ok if it's slightly under-cooked (though the picture makes it look more pink than it was).

Season with a little salt and pepper.


Pour the remaining sauce over top and add the rest of the swiss cheese.


Add the 1/4 cup each of parmesan cheese and bread crumbs.

Spray with cooking oil and bake for 30 minutes at 350F.


Remove when bubbling and golden brown.


This casserole turned out really good. My daughter loved it and the sauce/cheese combination worked out really well together. If you didn't tell me that it was a lightened up version, I wouldn't have known. It was creamy, crunchy and savory. The wine and shallots added a decidedly French element to it that was very pleasant. Overall, it was a nice casserole that everyone ate up.


Enjoy!

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