• 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 bunches broccoli, cut into florets
  • 3 boneless chicken breasts
  • 2 large heads broccoli, stemmed and broken into florets
  • 5 tablespoon salted butter, plus a little extra to butter baking dish
  • 1/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 tablespoons dry sherry
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (I like using Slap Ya Mama in place of salt in this recipe)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

I love turning the calendar from August to September, don’t you? This year the changing of the season brought me back to times when we homeschooled our children. September welcomed a new beginning with a new school year before us. One of the things I also enjoy about this time of the year is decorating our home; “nesting” I call it. My mother also loves decorating her home for the fall and she does a wonderful job.

This is the first year both of my boys are away at college and my sons were not here to help me get the boxes from the attic and get things in place – something we enjoyed very much. The chilly and somewhat wet weather also had me craving casseroles. When my husband Mike and I first began dating twenty-two years ago, I made him a dish my godmother once made me. Similar to Chicken Divan, her dish included chicken breasts, broccoli, condensed Cream of Chicken soup, evaporated milk and Parmesan cheese. I decided to make this meal again, but without the help or salt of condensed soup, so Saturday I finished up my chores, got my dinner and dessert in the oven and began my fall decorating. With brownies in the oven

Our home smelled of chocolate and sugar! What could be better? The Chicken Divan smelled, well, divine and Mike and I were ready to enjoy our meal together! With autumn candles burning, all my chores behind me and the quiet of our home, Mike and I enjoyed our meal together and then sat to read the rest of our evening together until our son Nathaniel surprised us with a visit. He was happy to see I had made brownies. It was the perfect ending to a great day! I sent him back up to school with bags of homemade goodies for brother and friends.

Chicken Divan

Butter a 9 x 13-inch baking dish and set aside.

Place broccoli florets into a large pot of salted boiling water. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until barely tender, 2–3 minutes. Drain and place in a large bowl of ice water. This stops the cooking process and keeps the color a very nice bright green. Place broccoli in your buttered 9 x 13-inch casserole dish and set aside.

Place the chicken breasts in the same water and cook for about 8 to 10 minutes or just until cooked. Remove from the boiling water and let cool on a plate while making your cream sauce.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Melt remaining butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Gradually pour in stock and milk while whisking constantly. Cook until very thick, about 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper, sherry, nutmeg, and 1/4 cup of the cheese; stir 1/2 cup of cheese until it melts, about 1 minute. Remove sauce from heat and let cool slightly.

Arrange chicken evenly over top of broccoli and sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup of cheese.

In a large bowl, beat the heavy cream to soft peaks; fold into sauce. Pour sauce over chicken. Bake for about 30 minutes or until golden brown and bubbling. We like to eat our Chicken Divan with steamed rice.