This is my favorite vintage casserole from growing up. It is so yummy, but I also love the origin story.

The Divan Parisien was a well-known and very fancy restaurant in the early 1900’s. It was located in Chatham Hotel in NYC. The restaurant was ruled over by the famous French chef, Chef Lagasi. His signature dish in the restaurant was “Chicken Divan.” Diners would often ask and try to get the recipe to take home. The Maitre d’ started to give enough hints that versions of it started to be made. This dish became so well known that it started showing up in cookbooks in the 1950’s and 60’s.

No one knows for sure, but according to personal accounts, the original was poached chicken breast with steamed broccoli covered with a cheesy bechamel or mornay sauce then topped with breadcrumbs, or ripped up pieces of bread that would toast on top. After it came out of the oven it was plated and served over rice.

My mother used to do it closer that way when I was little. Her recipe card says to “boil a whole chicken with parsley for 1-2 hours. Pull the meat off of the bones.” SO GLAD we have evolved and made this recipe easier!

The original recipes that showed up in print mid-century used a sauce on top made up of cheese, cream of chicken soup and mayonnaise.

There are several ways in which this recipe has evolved over the years within our own family.

  1. We now put the rice in the dish as the first layer, rather than serving it over rice.
  2. Rather than poaching and prepping a whole chicken, use an already used rotisserie chicken, or leftover chicken from another meal, or you can simmer a few chicken breasts in broth.
  3. I use Greek plain yogurt in place of the mayonnaise.

I often cook the rice, chicken and broccoli earlier in the day so they are ready to go later on. This dish can be time consuming but it is easy. The most involved part is mixing up the sauce, which only has 7 ingredients.

Layer the rice, broccoli and chicken. Then make the sauce and spread it over the top.

As I mentioned above the bread crumb topping is different in the varied versions. We’ve always done breadcrumbs. I like to use seasoned Progresso breadcrumbs OR even better is Panko crumbs tossed together with a little salt and Italian seasoning.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. No side dish needed, as this one dish meal has protein, vegetables and carbs all ready to go. However, I love it with a salad and some fresh, roasted green beans or asparagus on the side.

Chicken Divan

This chicken main dish originates from the Divan Parisien restaurant at Chatham Hotel in NYC in the early 1900's. Chef Lagasi kept a tight lid on the recipe. The original was something like chicken and broccoli pieces covered in a bechamel or mornay sauce and served over rice. By the 1950's and 60's this signature dish had become so well known that it started showing up in American cookbooks. There are many versions of this recipe. I've enjoyed a few. This is the version my mom always made.
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Course Entree, Main Course
Cuisine American, French
Servings 1 9×13 dish


  • cups rice, uncooked I prefer basmati
  • 3 cups water
  • 2-3 cups chicken, cooked and shredded into large pieces or chopped
  • 3 cups broccoli, cut into bite sized pieces


  • 1 cup Greek yogurt, plain or mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 2 cans cream of chicken soup
  • 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup chicken broth

Crumb top

  • ½-1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp Kosher Salt


  • In a small pot with a fitted lid, bring the water to boil. Add in the raw rice. Turn the heat down to low, fit the lid on tight. and set a timer for 12 minutes. Turn the heat off when the timer goes off. Let it sit till needed.
  • Rinse and cut up the broccoli. Put the broccoli in a small pot that has a fitted lid. Add enough water for the broccoli to just be sitting in it. The broccoli should NOT be submerged. Fit the lid on and turn the heat on high. Once there is steam, and the water is boiling. After 3-4 minutes, test with a fork. The broccoli needs to be fork tender, but not mushy or crunchy. Drain the water off.
  • Lightly spray a 9×13 dish with oil. Spread the rice out in an even layer.
  • Spread the broccoli over the rice, and the chicken over the broccoli.
  • For the sauce, mix all the ingredients except the broth, in a large mixing bowl.
  • Slowly add the broth while stirring. You may not need or wish to add all the broth. You don't want it too runny. The broth's purpose is to thin it a little, so it spreads easier. I almost always add all the broth.
  • Spread the sauce over the other 3 layers.
  • Use a fork to blend the Panko with seasonings. Evenly sprinkle the crumbs over the top.
  • Bake at 350° for 30 minutes.
Keyword broccoli, chicken, dinner, main dish, casserole, family dinner, rice