NOSTALGIC 60’s CHICKEN DIVAN RECIPE

If a woman had small children back  in the 1960’s, she was probably a stay at home mom.  At the time, I lived in a Chicago suburb,  surrounded by women who did not work outside the home.   They had coffee klatches and bridge parties, and entertained  on the weekends.  The mainstay of any dinner party was usually some type of make ahead casserole, never mind the calories. Now that the weather is turning cool,   you might want to try this nostalgic 60’S Chicken Divan recipe.

The recipe for Chicken Divan had two stages:  The day before, you stewed the bird,  cleaned it off the bone, chopped it up, and saved the broth. This procedure was described in the 1942 edition of the Woman’s Home Companion Cook Book:

STEWED CHICKEN:

Wash the the bird and place it whole in a heavy kettle.  Add cleaned giblets if desired. Cover with water (about 6 cups).  For flavor, add a small carrot, an onion, a stalk of celery.  A small amount of thyme or marjoram may be added, along with a bay leaf.

Cover and simmer gently over low heat 2 hours or until the chicken is tender and meat begins to loosen from the bones. Remove from heat & let it cool breast side down in the stock. While still lukewarm,  skim off fat and remove chicken. Discard skin and bones; slice or dice the meat.  StraIn the stock to use in gravy, sauces, etc. Store chicken and stock in the refrigerator until ready for use.

The next morning after stewing the chicken,   the  60’s housewife cleaned her house and polished her good silver.  Now she was ready to prepare the casserole for the dinner party that evening.  It could be made ahead and kept in the frig until baking after the guests arrived.

CHICKEN DIVAN:

1 stewed chicken, cut in slices..

2  10 oz packages frozen broccoli

2  cans condensed cream of chicken soup

1 cup mayonnaise

1 teaspoon  curry powder

1 cup shredded cheese

1 cup bread crumbs

1 tablespoon melted margarine.

Cook and slice chicken. Cook broccoli until tender; drain. Arrange broccoli in 11 ½ X 7 l/2 X l 1/2 inch baking pan; place chicken on broccoli. Combine soup, mayonnaise, curry powder and cheese; pour over chicken. Combine bread crumbs and butter; sprinkle over casserole. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes.  Makes 6 -8 servings.  If desired, a side dish of your favorite  rice makes a good accompaniment.

Or, if you’re planning to do it ahead,  put the casserole in the refrigerator  until ready to bake.. It may take a few minutes longer to cook before it reaches 160  degrees and is ready to serve.

If you’re a  21st century, working mom, you can simplify this recipe by  substituting  4  poached chicken breasts and cutting them into bite sized pieces. Or, you can use 3 cups of diced, leftover turkey or chicken.

Nostalgic Chicken Divan made with stewed chicken is  still one of the tastiest, easiest, least expensive  recipes you will find.  Stewed chicken also makes delicious chicken and noodles.

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