Broccoli issues, cured

If we eat it or if we don’t eat, I always buy more broccoli, and why buy one when you can buy two? If I’m feeling especially like my mother skills are lacking or the cold is coming or I am overwhelmed by the wall of green in the vegetable aisle, broccoli is my crutch. The problem with broccoli is that it falsly promises to hold on to life for you until you are ready for it. So it sits, losing vitamins and chutzpah in the back of the drawer while everything else gets cooked until it has nothing left and has to be put out of its misery. That’s what happened last week. This week I am making creamy dreamy Chicken Divan, and I’m making it early. Hello New Year.
Heat up your oven to 375 degrees. Rub a small pan that will hold two chicken breasts with a little olive oil. Salt the breasts (on the bone for more flavor) and give them a grind of freshly ground black pepper. Rub some olive oil over the tops. Roast until just done, about 20-25 minutes. Remove from the oven.
Bring a pot of water to the boil. Add a little salt and a tab of butter. Cut up a head of broccoli into small flowerets; peel the stems, slice them thinly, toss with a little of your olive oil that sends you over the edge and salt and eat them as you cook. Add the flowerets to the water; simmer just until tender and still green, about 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon onto paper towels. Butter up a 2 qt. casserole dish. In a saucepan, melt 3 tablespoons of butter, and when it has just meltted, add the same amount of flour. Whisk over very low heat, until the mix tastes like baked shortbread. Add a little salt. Turn off the heat. Add 1 cup of milk minus 2 tablespoons, just a little bit at a time, stirring between each pour until smooth. As soon as it looks more liquid than like sour cream, get it back on the fire. Over a medium flame, whisk constantly, adding about a cup of chicken stock and 2 tablespoons of sherry, until the sauce is slightly thickened. Take off the heat. Add a handful of grated parmesan, a grating of nutmeg and whisk gently to melt the cheese. Taste for salt. Season your broccoli with a little salt and layer it in the casserole. Sprinkle on a handful of cheese. Roughly shred the chicken breast, removing the skin and bone and any weird bits. Set that on top of the broccoli. Sprinkle over 3/4 cup of slivered almonds. Lightly beat a 1/3 cup of heavy cream, just until thickened. Fold it into the sauce, and pour over the top. Bake uncovered for about half an hour until bubbling and golden brown.

One thought on “Broccoli issues, cured

  1. I just want to add that loved the chicken divan so much, I made it AGAIN! But this time, I used a shortcut. I had no more stock on hand, so I just used the drippings from roasting the chicken breasts (with skin and bone). I transferred them to anothe container, stuck the container in the freezer for a few minutes, then scraped off the fat from the top, and added the rest to my bechamel. I had no more sherry, and no wine, so I did without. I had no more slivered almonds, so I just sliced up a handful of whole almonds with skins. Still delicious. Jonathan said he would have like some pasta in there or rice, but I say no way. It was perfect over thinly sliced, buttered and toasted ciabata.

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