Chicken Asparagus Divan is a spring-inspired twist on a retro dinner party favorite! It's creamy, cheesy, luxurious and perfect for a spring special occasion!
Are you ready for some retro? I am in love with classic recipes and feel they don't properly get their due. Too often with a classic, people roll their eyes and say things like "My mother always made that."
Well, didn't mom always know best? Here's to mom!
History and Origin of Chicken Divan:
Many know Classic Chicken Divan best with fresh or frozen broccoli as the base. Here in the South, the creamy sauce is generally made with canned soup and some mayonnaise and sour cream mixed in then topped with breadcrumbs or crushed potato chips.
This version is closer to the preparation that originated in the Divan Parisien Restaurant in one of New York’s fine hotels around 1950 and became their signature dish. Eventually, it caught on throughout the country and it became popular to serve at home dinner parties.
Asparagus takes the place of broccoli in this spring-inspired twist!
How to make Chicken Asparagus Divan:
- Start with fresh asparagus. Drizzle it with a little oil, season with some salt and pepper and roast it lightly at 375 degrees for approximately five minutes.
- Place in a baking dish.
- The classic preparation for Chicken Divan is made with a Mornay sauce. Mornay sauce is simply a béchamel with cheese added--generally a blend of Gruyère and Parmesan. You can use either cheese or the two combined. I prefer to use Gruyère because it melts so beautifully.
- Top with simply roasted chicken.
- Pour the hot Mornay sauce over the top...
- Pop the Chicken Asparagus Divan in the oven for just a little while so the chicken heats through and the sauce gets hot and bubbly...
- Also holding true to the classic preparation is a topping of lightly toasted almonds, either sliced or slivered. I like to toast them in a dry skillet on the stovetop over medium heat, keeping a close eye on them at all times because they can burn quickly.
For more beautiful chicken recipes suitable for a dinner party, be sure to check out my:
- Chicken Meatballs Marsala with Baked Parmesan Polenta
- Chicken Pinot Noir with Wild Mushrooms and Fresh Basil
- Chicken Scallopine with Roasted Vegetable Ratatouille
- Gratin-Style Pesto and Goat Cheese Stuffed Chicken with Roma Tomatoes
- Chicken Marrakech with Jeweled Couscous
- Crab-Stuffed Chicken Breasts
Chicken Asparagus Divan
- 2 small boneless skinless chicken breast halves - (approximately ¾ pound)
- 2 tablespoons canola oil - divided, plus more for the pan
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 bunch asparagus - medium width, about 1 pound, tough ends trimmed
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- ⅓ cup dry sherry - or dry white wine
- 1 ¾ cups half-and-half
- ⅔ cup grated Gruyere cheese - or Parmesan cheese, or a combination
- ¼ teaspoon ground white pepper
- Pinch nutmeg
- ¼ cup sliced almonds - lightly toasted
- Chopped fresh parsley
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Drizzle chicken breasts with 1 tablespoon oil and season with salt and black pepper. Bake for approximately 20-25 minutes or until no longer pink (165 degrees in the center). Let cool slightly.
- Place asparagus on a baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon oil, season with salt and black pepper and place in the oven for the last 5-7 minutes of the chicken baking.
- Meanwhile, melt butter over medium heat. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly for 2 minutes (do not let flour brown). Add the sherry or wine, stir, then slowly add the half-and-half, whisking constantly until smooth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer until thickened, about 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in the cheese, whisking constantly until melted and smooth. Remove from heat and add white pepper, nutmeg.
- Lightly oil a 13 x 9-inch baking dish. Arrange the asparagus spears so that an even amount of tips are on opposite sides of the baking dish.
- Cut each chicken breast in half horizontally, then slice diagonally into strips. Place between the asparagus spears. Pour sauce over chicken and partially over the asparagus.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes or until heated through and bubbling. Top with almonds and chopped fresh parsley. Serve immediately.
These are estimated values generated from a nutritional database using unbranded products. Please do your own research with the products you're using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.
Jane Fitzsimmons says
Can I prepare and freeze it?
Hi, Jane, Thanks so much for your question. I'm not too sure how this would do frozen; my concern is the asparagus. Asparagus cooks so very quickly and will soften up even more after having been frozen. It also has such a tendency to shrink. How about substituting broccoli instead? Just give it a super-quick blanch (20 seconds), ice it and pat it dry. If you really wanted asparagus, you could make the chicken and sauce and freeze that. (Leave almonds off.) Then, when wanting to serve, thaw that and place it over lightly roasted asparagus, top with the nuts and heat through. Thanks again and hope this helps!
EA The Spicy RD says
You had me at asparagus! Yum!!! My mom made something similar growing up, and it was one of my favorite recipes. This looks so creamy and delicious-the perfect comfort food!
Thank you! Hope you enjoy!
Jacqueline Debono says
I have never had chicken Divan. It sounds yummy especially with asparagus. Going to pin for later!
Thanks, Jacqueline! Hope you enjoy!
Ben Myhre says
Such a beautiful dish! I love your description and both the history bit and talking about that sauce. Good stuff!
Thanks, Ben! I'm a bit of a food history nerd and love classic recipes. Thanks again!
I love that this gets away from the canned soups I always think of with chicken divan. That creamy, dreamy sauce is calling my name right now and making me so excited for dinner!
Thanks, Mackenzie! No canned soup for this girl! Hope you enjoy!