Broccoli and cheese kinds of casseroles have gone and gotten a terrible name for themselves in the foody kingdom. In the foody kingdom people eat only lamb and arugula. Or home grown foods. Or "real" foods. Or any of a number of foods that I am truly not opposed to in any way. But sometimes when you consider what the average American is beginning to eat (hint: rhymes with dig smac or at the very best brozen finner) on a very very, almost daily basis, you remember that maybe sometimes it's okay if one of the foods in tonight's dinner didn't come from the farmer's market or have less than five ingredients in its ingredient list. Sometimes it's doing pretty good to turn out an actual dinner from your actual oven that did not come from a box (pizza, take out, or frozen dinner). Sometimes it's okay to hearken back to an earlier time when your frazzled mother/grandmother, who did not own a dishwasher and/or dryer, managed to flop some sort of fairly nutritious food onto the table every night. And sometimes it's good--wholesome even--just to run with that. Today we're running with that.
And--truth be told--we could be doing so much worse. This recipe contains 2 large heads of broccoli, cheddar, chicken, and (here's its whole food undoing) mayonnaise (which could potentially be subbed out with or cream cheese to good effect, though I haven't tried it). It can be served over rice, farro, or barley to very very good effect. It's easy to pull together (it was one of the first foods I learned to make when Kip and I were first married and I didn't cook at all), has a definite comfort food aspect to it, and did not come from a box of any sort.
You made it with love. It didn't take your whole day. It tastes really really good. And you can enjoy it hot with those you love. Do so.
P.S. Don't ask me why it's called chicken divan. It just is.
makes 1 9x13 inch pan
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
3-4 chicken breasts
2 large heads broccoli
2 C mayonnaise
1/2-1 C chicken broth (unsalted)
3-4 C shredded cheddar cheese (I prefer sharp, but Kip likes this best with medium)
salt and pepper to taste
Boil chicken breasts in water. Shred. (Alternately you could use some that you'd already roasted or cooked another day--you'll need a couple cups of it shredded.).
While your chicken is boiling, chop your broccoli and shred your cheese.
When chicken is done, take it out and shred it. Hold onto the water you boiled it in.
Put shredded chicken, broccoli, and half the cheese in a 9x13 inch pan. Add mayonnaise and mix it around. It will be a little thick.
Here's where you use that water you boiled the chicken in. Thicken it by boiling it and then adding a bit of cornstarch (1 Tbsp) mixed with 2 Tbsp water. Pour this into the boiling broth, stir, and let it thicken a bit. Pour some of this over your chicken/broccoli/cheese/mayo mixture. It will loosen it up and make it just a bit runnier. That's what you want--not soup, but not something super thick either. It'll look like this when all mixed in.
If you used chicken you already had or accidentally threw out your water, use a bit of low-sodium chicken broth, thicken it a bit, and throw it on.
Spread in pan. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Cook at 375-400 degrees until cheese is melted and bubbly and edges are beginning to brown (20-30 minutes).
Serve over rice, farro, or barley.