Chicken Divan

Succulent chicken breast and tender broccoli are coated in a creamy cheese sauce in this ‘80s casserole staple.

  • Serves


  • Cook

    1 hour 30 minutes


By SAVEUR Editors

Updated on February 12, 2024

Before the stately Hotel Chatham (designed by Warren & Wetmore, the same firm behind Grand Central) was razed in 1966, Anthony Lagasi, chef at its Divan Parisien restaurant, forever changed the way Americans viewed chicken and broccoli. By the early 1940s, Lagasi had debuted a dish that bathed and baked the otherwise bland ingredients in a rich bechamel sauce, creating the casserole we now know as Chicken Divan. In Lawton Mackall's Knife and Fork in New York (Doubleday & Company, 1949), chicken divan is described as a "runaway success dish year in, year out…sliced chicken breast on broccoli in a sherry-laced sauce of cheese and cream, browned and brought to table bubbling hot." Although Divan Parisien's original recipe was never divulged, the restaurant’s maître d’hôtel hinted that Lagasi used poached chicken. SAVEUR's version, which is adapted from Crazy for Casseroles (The Harvard Common Press, 2003) by James Villas, sautés the poultry instead.

Featured in: “The Age of Casseroles,” by Irene Sax in the December 2006 issue.


  • 1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 large head broccoli (about 2 lb.), stemmed and broken into 1-in. florets
  • 5 Tbsp. unsalted butter, divided
  • 1⁄4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3 Tbsp. dry sherry
  • 1 pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1⁄2 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, divided
  • 1 cup slivered almonds
  • 1⁄2 cup heavy cream


Step 1

Season the chicken with salt and pepper. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat the oil until it shimmers, then add the chicken and cook, turning once, until golden and cooked through, 13–15 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and allow to cool slightly before cutting, against the grain, into ¼-inch-thick slices. Set aside.

Step 2

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of generously salted water to a full boil. Add the broccoli and cook just until bright green and barely tender, 2–3 minutes. Drain into a colander, rinsing well under cold running water to stop the cooking, then set aside.

Step 3

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 375°F. Rub the inside of a 2-quart casserole dish with 1 tablespoon butter and set aside.

Step 4

In a medium pot over medium heat, make a roux: Melt the remaining 4 tablespoons butter, then when the foam begins to subside, whisk in the flour and cook, stirring continuously, for 1 minute. Gradually whisk in the stock, followed by the milk, then cook until thickened, about 10 minutes. Whisk in the sherry, nutmeg, and half of the Parmigiano-Reggiano until smooth, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat, season to taste with salt and black pepper, and set aside to cool slightly.

Step 5

Meanwhile, in the prepared casserole dish, arrange the reserved broccoli in a single layer and sprinkle with the remaining Parmigiano. Arrange the reserved chicken slices evenly over the broccoli and sprinkle with the almonds. In a large bowl, beat the heavy cream to soft peaks. Gently fold the whipped cream into the reserved sauce, then pour the sauce over the chicken. Place the casserole on a large baking sheet to catch any drips, then bake until golden brown and bubbling, about 30 minutes.

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