Divine Chicken Divan
Last week, I roasted one 6-pound, $7 chicken and created 4 separate dishes and 16 meals, beginning with the roasted chicken, the ensuing stock, a Chicken and Dumpling Soup made from the stock a luscious Chicken Divan casserole, and four substantial chicken sandwiches enhanced with a homemade Nutty Whole Grain Bread. That’s going the distance in the economical and no waste cooking department, which was, and for the long-haul is, my most intense cooking ambition these days. Along with keeping things delicious, of course.
Here’s the original post for the roast for easy reference:
It was cold last week and like most of us in the snowy, Northern Hemisphere, I was in the mood for some soothing, creamy, savory comfort food. Chicken Divan, something a Facebook friend aptly described as ‘legacy fare,’ came to mind. Named after the restaurant where it was created in the Chatham Hotel in New York City, divan is a French word meaning ‘meeting place’ or ‘grand hall.’ In addition to being descriptive, like all French words, it sounds prettier than many English words and its base is a mother sauce, a Bechamel turned cheesy, also known as a Mornay sauce. Classically, it’s prepared with broccoli and mushrooms, but I kept broccoli out of the equation (mostly because I didn’t have any to use) and beefed up the mushroom ratio with dried porcini macerated in warm, dry vermouth which was later added to the Mornay. The end result was stunning and doubles as brunch (I served it to friends as such with a side of roasted asparagus), lunch, dinner or a midnight snack.
A word on bread crumbs and mushroom feet:
Unless you are one of the rare few that seldom has a nub of baguette or left-over bread hanging around, there is no reason to ever buy bread crumbs at the grocery. Store the bread bits and pieces in the freezer and crumble them in the food processor as you’re ready to use them, as in the topping for this casserole. Same goes for most types of cheeses (except soft cheeses), which I freeze and use in forgiving dishes such as a casserole or omelet frequently. In cooking school, we were taught not to use the feet of mushrooms in dishes, except in stock, but I disagree. Except for some very tough mushroom types, such as shitake, they are perfectly palatable. With all mushrooms (except morels which are another story), clean them simply by rubbing them down with a damp paper towel or clean kitchen towel to remove excess dirt.
Divine Chicken Divan
(Makes 10 generous portions)
1 ounce dried wild porcini
1/2 cup extra dry white vermouth
3/4 cup chicken stock (from roasted chicken – see link above – or best quality commercial chicken stock)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
8 ounces, or 2 1/2 cups crimini mushrooms, halved and thinly sliced, feet-on
1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
For the Mornay:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose
2 cups whole milk
Reserved strained liquid from the porcini mushrooms
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
2 cups grated Gruyere cheese
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Compiling the casserole:
Shredded meat from the 1 chicken breast and one leg/thigh from the roasted chicken, skin and bones removed – approximately three cups
5 scallions, finely chopped
1 1/4 bread crumbs
2 tablespoons butter, halved
Preheat the oven to 400F. Place the porcini, vermouth, and chicken stock in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce to a simmer, cook 3 minutes and set aside, at least 10 minutes. Meanwhile, heat two tablespoons butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chopped onion, stir to coat, and cook over medium low heat until softened, 5 minutes. Add the chopped crimini, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Stir to coat and saute until softened, five minutes. Set aside. Meanwhile, strain the liquid from the porcini through a coffee filter into a small bowl and set aside. Coarsely chop the porcini and add to the mushrooms in the saute pan and set aside.
Prepare the Mornay. Melt the two tablespoons butter in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Add the flour and stir to combine with a wooden spoon. Cook 1 minute, or until blond and barely bubbling. Add the milk, reserved strained porcini liquid, bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer over medium low heat. Cook, stirring, five minutes or until thickened. Season with the nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Remove from the heat and stir in the Gruyere and Parmesan cheeses until melted.
To compile the casserole, use 1 tablespoon of the butter to rub down the sides and edges of a 4-quart casserole dish. Arrange the shredded chicken meat on the bottom. Scatter with the chopped scallions and reserved mushrooms in the saute pan. Pour the warm Mornay sauce evenly over the top. Separately, melt remaining tablespoon of butter in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the bread crumbs and toast lightly, stirring to coat. Top the casserole evenly with the browned bread crumbs. Bake 30 to 40 minutes until golden, fragrant and bubbling. (Note: Can prepare/compile ahead, refrigerate overnight, and bake just before serving. Also, reheats well in oven or microwave after baked).
Happy cooking! Look for the Nutty Whole Grain Bread and Chicken and Dumpling Soup recipe next week. In the meantime, please remember to keep this upcoming cookbook writing retreat and Folly Beach spring wellness vacation in mind and by all means, tell your friends about it. We still have spots open. Beckie and I would love to see you there! It’s going to be delicious, fun, and educational.
Bull Street Gourmet has a way of following me around, or maybe it’s the other way around. When I lived in Harleston Village, in the heart of College of Charleston country several years ago, the original corner shop, rife with gourmet sandwiches, other-worldly chicken salad and nicely priced wines, popped up to the delight of many, including me. A small, casually elegant space, it fit (and still does) the neighborhood’s culinary needs nicely and in a price-range that was friendly to all, especially student budgets.
Last fall, young owner Justin Croxall bravely flexed his entrepreneurial muscle and expanded, in a big way, adding a much larger location near the corner of King Street and Broad Street in the heart of downtown and just a few blocks away from my new (well, new/old) house. It was a smart move, and one that was done very well. This stretch of King is growing with smart little shops (like Heirloom Books across the street) and increased foot traffic with accompanying appetites. And, aside from nearby Fast & French and Brent’s, there are precious few places around to satisfy them.
The “new” Bull Street is bigger and brighter than the old one and has a lot more to choose from. Visitors can grab a basket and shop from a vast array of imported cheeses, wine, pasta, sauces, fresh fruit and vegetables and more, all arranged on sparkling stainless steel shelving. Fresh bread is delivered daily from Normandy Farms and Bull Street knows how to fill them. The smoked duck club ($10) is stuffed with juicy, deeply-flavored duck confit, smoked duck ham, smoked gouda and pickled onion and finished off with the peppery bite of arugula. The celebrated chicken salad, made with chicken roasted in-house and cut into fat cubes is just as good at this location, with the crunch of roasted almonds and the bite of dried cranberries all bound together with a pale pink, punchy, cranberry salad. A cornucopia of salads and soups are also on the new menu here.
However, what I love most, are the breakfast sandwiches. An artsy crowd can regularly be found here in the early hours of any given day, sipping coffee and breaking into these warm, made-to-order beauties. The BYO breakfast sandwich ($6) can be made exactly the way you like. You pick the bread (croissant, bagel, biscuit or English muffin), you pick the way you want your eggs cooked (scrambled, hard, poached, egg whites only if you like), and you pick your meat of choice (my favorite is the salty, thick country ham), and you pick your cheese of choice (cheddar, Swiss, provolone or gruyere). They come out of the bright, spotless open kitchen hot and ready to start your day.
The tables are constantly cleared and cleaned by the friendly staff who get the food out in a hurry, but without leaving customers feeling rushed.
It’s hard to leave empty-handed with a fat choice of excellent condiments, pickles, olives, and imaginative sauces, like a bright green walnut pesto to toss in imported pasta from Bull Street’s well-stocked shelves.
Bull Street also has an extensive catering menu and the Super Bowl is just days away. Indeed, Bull Street Gourmet has a history of being in the right place at the right time and doing things right every time. I’m personally very happy to have them in the neighborhood.
Bull Street Gourmet & Market
120 King Street, Charleston, SC 29401