My mom tells me that she sometimes made Chicken Divan Casserole for us when we were growing up. I am not about to call my mother a liar, but somehow the food memory didn't dig itself very far into my brain, so this isn't a dish I would have thought to seek out a recipe for and make... A couple weeks ago, though, a friend mentioned some pangs of nostalgia for the Chicken Divan his mom had made for him when he was young...and what kind of friend would I be if I didn't try to make a version of this classic for him? (I know the pictures of the finished dish are a little scrappy, but it's comfort food so I wasn't about to mess around with fancy plating...)
When broaching the subject of Chicken Divan, my friend asked if casserole was beneath me, to which I replied "Of course not! I love casserole!"... but I that was sort of a lie. I do love casserole, but I can't really bring myself to make a recipe that involves vats of mayo and cans of Cream of Whatever soup at this point in my life (as most recipes I saw for Chicken Divan do...). I'm not saying such things aren't delicious, it just feels dirty and wrong to even ponder using them anymore... The best-looking recipe I found is from the 2006 edition of Joy of Cooking. A copy of the recipe with the modifications I made is posted here. The pictures below are from a double-batch, with half going into a 9" x 9" baking dish and the rest distributed among six 12-ounce ramekins (because I like making individual portions).