Thursday, November 29, 2012

Chicken Divan, gluten free

A friend of mine who is gluten free asked me a while ago to make him some Chicken Divan.  I had only had this dish once when I was a gluteny person, and honestly I didn't like it!  But I like my friend, so I decided to try.  The dish my friend's mom always made was the normal American housewife version using cream of chicken soup and mayonnaise and some lemon juice.  I do have a gluten free cream of chicken soup powder mix I have made, and I could have tried that, but I decided to do some research.  I found out that Chicken Divan was originally made using a Mornay sauce made with sherry.

The first time I made it, I just used the basic mornay sauce recipe with cheddar cheese and salt and pepper.  It was good, but somewhat bland.  My friend called his mom and she said she used a little curry powder in hers.  So I tried it again with curry powder, and added just a bit of onion powder.  I also decided to use some Italian cheese blend to amp up the flavor.

This is what we came up with and we are both very happy with it.  It isn't much like his mom's but it's very very good! (I think much better than the Chicken Divan I had years ago)

(printable recipe)
2-3 boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into small chunks
1 quart water
¼ cup salt
1 teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon curry powder
Stir together the salt and the seasonings with the water.  Add the chicken breasts to the brine solution and refrigerate for 3-4 hours.
Heat 2 Tablespoons oil over medium high heat.  Add the drained chicken and sauté until just cooked through.  Remove the chicken from the pan and make the Mornay Sauce
Mornay sauce
1/3 Cup cooking sherry
1 1/3 cup chicken stock
½ teaspoon curry powder
 ½ teaspoon onion powder
Salt and Pepper to taste
Combine in Sauce pan and reduce over medium heat until half the volume.  Pour out of pan and set aside.
¼ cup butter
¼ cup gluten free flour blend (I like to use 2 parts sweet rice and 1 part tapioca, it gives the best flavor/texture)
Melt the butter in the pan and then whisk in the flour, cook for a couple minutes so you won’t have the raw flour taste, but don’t brown it.


Remove pan from heat, whisk back in the reduced stock.  Add 2 cups half and half, whisk until smooth.  Return to heat and cook until just bubbly, then remove from heat.  Stir in 1 cup shredded Italian cheese blend, and 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese.
1 bag frozen broccoli florets (family size) and ½ bag cubed hash browns.
Stir together the broccoli, potatoes and chicken, and put in a large casserole dish.  Pour the sauce over the top and top with ½ cup shredded cheese.
Bake in 350 oven for 45 minutes.