The Best Turkey Divan Recipe: A Classic Made the Way It Should Be

After decades of sliding into disfavor (thanks to the likes of condensed soup and processed cheese), it’s time to give Turkey Divan back its good name! Made with a great cheese and a true Mornay sauce, my Turkey Divan Recipe reclaims the dish’s status as one of the best recipes ever for leftover turkey. 

Authentic and Easy Recipe for Turkey Divan

Authentic and Easy Recipe for Turkey Divan

The Late, Great Younker's Department Store. Click here for my ode to working in the famous tea room.

The Late, Great Younker’s Department Store. Read my ode to working in the famous tea room.

I first came across Turkey Divan when I was working in one of the long-gone restaurants of Younker’s Department Store  in Amerique profonde. Made by layering steamed broccoli with sliced chicken breast, with a rich cheese sauce amidst the layers, it was one of those wonderful American classics that were the mainstays of department store tearooms and old-school hotel dining rooms. 

American, you ask? Divan sounds kind of French.

Indeed, according to what research I could find, the recipe was the specialty of the Divan Parisien, a French restaurant in a New York Hotel (the long-gone Hotel Chatham, near Grand Central Station).

Wait–is it Divine or Divan? Is it turkey or is it chicken?

It’s Divan. And the original recipe was for chicken, but someone along the line discovered that it worked beautifully with turkey, too.

What does Divan mean, anyway?

According to my Oxford French-English Dictionary, divan means divan. Yes, as in a davenport. But it’s a Parisian davenport, mind you. I can only guess that the restaurant’s name, “Divan Parisien,” was supposed to bring to mind an elegant place to sit yourself down. And, looking at a vintage postcard, it looks like the place was all about divan-style seating.

Divan Parisien

And yet, Turkey Divan is not elegant in a complicated, rococo way. In fact, the term “polished simplicity” comes to mind whenever I taste a great version. (I always say no one does polished simplicity quite like the French–and this dish is definitely French-inspired).

Turkey Divan begins with one of the most simple-elegant things in the culinary world: a white sauce (a béchamel). When was the last time you stopped and really tasted a white sauce? I did, the other day when I was testing this recipe, and I was thrilled once again by the magic that happens when a warm paste made of melted butter and flour turns milk something so rich and wonderful.

For this recipe, you add a great cheese (and nearly any great cheese that melts well will do); the white sauce becomes a cheese sauce. Or, in French cooking terms, a béchamel becomes a Mornay.

Seriously? It’s as good as all that? Whenever I’ve tasted Turkey Divan, it’s been kind of…..ordinary.

Well, here’s what happened: Over the years, our mothers and grandmothers started substituting cream of mushroom or chicken soup instead of making a white sauce. Condensed soup is to béchamel what Velveeta is to a Vermont Cheddar.

Process cheese (aka Velveeta)? Condensed soup? Let's not judge....but we can do better!

From my mother’s BH&G Casserole Cookbook. Process cheese (aka Velveeta)? Condensed soup? Let’s not judge….but we can do better! (PS: Let the record show that the book also offered a classic, scratch-made version.)

Still, I’m not judging here: If I’d grown up cutting heads off chickens, sweeping Dust Bowl dirt from my floorboards three times a day, and scratching every bit of food I could from the grit of a substinance farm in the anything-but-Martha-Stewart 30s and 40s, by the 1950s, I would have looked at condensed soup as a beacon of salvation from the drudgery of all that work. I would have been first in line for an electric can opener.

And if buying cheap process cheese meant that you’d be able to save enough money to finally afford that beautiful readymade dress in the Younkers window after years of sewing your own clothes, well, pass me the Velveeta.

But now that we have the time and (if we’re blessed) the resources to get back to scratch cooking, it’s time to get back to making the Mornay sauce. And making Turkey Divan in the legendary way.

Here are some step-by-steps to this great dish; just skip below if you want the recipe.

1. Gather up your ingredients (see recipe listing below). You can use broccoli, which is classic, but I love broccolini (pictured in the center).

Ingredients for Turkey Divan.

Ingredients for Turkey Divan.

2. Make a White Sauce (a Béchamel), and then turn it into a cheese sauce (a Mornay) with your favorite flavorful melting cheese.

What cheese to use in Turkey Divan or Chicken Divan: Both Comté and Cheddar work beautifully here. You can also use Gruyère, Asiago, Fontina, Gouda (though not hard-aged Gouda), Muenster, Havarti, and Monterey Jack. I would not use blue cheese for this. You could use Brie or Camembert if you cut off the rind.

A white sauce becomes a cheese sauce (that is, a Béchamel becomes a Mornay). And it's a wonderful thing. You've simply forgotten.

A white sauce becomes a cheese sauce (that is, a Béchamel becomes a Mornay). And it’s a wonderful thing. You’ve simply forgotten.

3. Layer Your Ingredients: The broccoli or broccolini should be cooked until just tender; the turkey should be warm (heat it gently in the microwave). The sauce should still be warm. This is key, because you only run it under the broiler for just a few minutes. PS: I like using Individual Gratin Dishes for these, but a larger gratin dish will work too. Just be sure whatever dish you use is broiler safe.

1. A layer of broccoli 2. A little white sauce 3. A layer of turkey 4. More white sauce

1. A layer of broccoli
2. A little white sauce
3. A layer of turkey…

 

4. More White Sauce 5. A layer of cheese and a little paprika.

4. More White Sauce
5. A layer of cheese and a little paprika.

 4. Broil until nicely bubbly and a little bit brown.

Voilà.

Voilà.

Here’s the recipe, friends!

5.0 from 1 reviews
The Best Turkey Divan Recipe: A Classic Made the Way It Should Be
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4 servings
 
If you don't have individual gratin dishes, you can use an 8x8 or 9x9 casserole, or even a round baking dish. Just make sure it can stand the heat of your broiler. You may need to broil the larger casserole longer, but do watch constantly.
Ingredients
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1½ cups 2% or whole milk
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ⅔ cup grated Gruyère, Comté, Vermont Cheddar, or another great semi-firm cheese you love that melts well
  • 1 1-pound head broccoli, cut into 1-inch florets, cooked and drained* or 1 8-ounce bunch broccolini, cooked and drained.*
  • ¾ pound sliced leftover sliced turkey
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese or other great grating cheese of your choice. Or, you can simply add more of the cheese you used in the sauce.
Instructions
  1. Melt butter. Add flour and cook, stirring, until mixture bubbles. Remove from heat; gradually blend in milk and cream. Add cayenne and salt. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture is thickened and begins to boil. Add Gruyère and cook, stirring, until cheese is melted.
  2. Warm the broccoli or broccolini and the turkey in the microwave. Divide broccoli or broccolini amongst 4 individual gratin dishes, spreading out into 1 layer. Pour about ¼ cup sauce over each dish. Layer turkey atop the broccoli; cover with the remaining sauce. Sprinkle with Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.
  3. Broil about 4 inches from heat for about 5 minutes or until cheese is browned, watching constantly. Serves 4.
  4. • To cook broccoli florets: Cook in about 1 inch of boiling salted water for about 6 to 8 minutes or until just crisp-tender. To cook broccolini: Trim ends. Cook in 1 inch boiling salted water for about 4 minutes or until just crisp-tender.

 

Links you might enjoy:

• Five French ways with leftover turkey: A great casserole, crêpes, vol-au-vents, and more.
• Five French ways with leftover ham: Croque monsieur, soufflé, French pizza, and other ideas.
• Great Gift Ideas for the Cook: Help support this site by checking out some of these epic gifts.
• Three good, inexpensive sparkling wines: These would be my choice for serving with Turkey Divan.
• Swiss Chard Salad: Looking to go light + healthful with your leftovers? Make this great winter salad, which is great with turkey.

Print Friendly

Epic Holiday Gifts for the Cook

Hello. As holiday shopping season begins, I’m here to help. I have hand-picked a few select gifts for your favorite cook, Francophile, or food lover. Rest assured, I’ve kept the list short and sweet—everything here is something I own and love myself.

 

PicMonkey Collage

Scroll down to view three categories: Splurges, Moderately Priced Gifts, and Stocking Stuffers. Note that all prices were correct as of 11/14/2014; they may have changed since that date. Happy shopping!

SPLURGES

 

1. The Wüsthoff Set: The Ultimate Gift for Artisanal Cheese Fans

Enjoy a little German craftsmanship with your French cheeses with the Wusthof Gourmet 3-Piece Cheese Knife Set with Cheese Board ($99.95). I especially adore the soft-cheese knife–it’s the one with the holes in in the blade. Use it for washed-rind and bloomy rind cheeses (like Camembert, Epoisse, et al.); the cheese won’t stick to the knife. The offset knife is stellar for cutting firm and semi-firm cheeses, while the cheese plane lets you cut those ultra-thin slices from favorites like Comté and Gruyère.

PS: If you want, you can just purchase the Soft Cheese Knife ($89.95), my favorite of the three. It would be a lovely stocking-stuffer for the cheese-lover in your life. But frankly, for $10 more, I’d go for the set.

 

2. The French Braiser: A Must for Winter Cooking

The Le Creuset Braiser. Available in a multitude of legendary colors.

Anyone who has been very, very good over the year deserves one of these wonderful enamel cast-iron braising pans from either Staub or Le Creuset. In fact, I love these pans so much that I wrote a book about them! (See my Braiser Cookbook.)

Braising is a “low and slow” cooking method for transforming less-expensive cuts of meat into rich, succulent meals. Coq au Vin, Boeuf Bourguigon, Blanquette of Pork, Osso Bucco are all braises, as are a slew of great everyday recipes, like pot roast and beef stew. With its tight-fitting lid, wide base, and shallower-than-a-Dutch-oven sides, the braising pan is simply the best choice for this cooking method.

The Staub Braiser: Not as many color options, but these are beautiful pans.

The Staub Braiser: Also a Beauty

Whether you choose a Staub or Le Creuset pan may depend simply on which color you like best. Staub comes in a rich red or deep green color; Le Creuset’s colors are legendarily varied. Both would make inspiring additions to the French-food-loving cook’s kitchen.

Le Creuset Enameled Cast-Iron 3-1/2-Quart Round Braiser. Pictured above, this size is perfect for recipes that yield 4 to 6 servings. Currently, it’s on sale for $249.95 (regular price: $360).

Staub Enamel Cast-Iron Braiser. Pictured at right, this pan holds 4-quart, so it, too is perfect for recipes that yield 4 to 6 servings. ($249.99)

Le Creuset Enameled Cast-Iron 5-Quart Round Braiser. (Not pictured here). Those who entertain often will appreciate this size. I use mine when making recipes for 8 or more diners. Currently priced at $294.95 (suggested retail price is $420).

If that’s too spendy, scroll below for info on the Lodge Braiser.

 

3: My Favorite Slow Cooker


Truth be told, I wasn’t that great of a fan of the slow cooker until I started cooking with the Cuisinart 3-in-1 Four-Quart Slow Cooker ($113.39). I love the way you can brown and sauté ingredients directly in the cooker before switching it over to the slow-cooking mode. But what I love even more is that once the food has cooked for the set time, the cooker will switch to “keep warm” mode. That’s a boon to anyone who’s endured a mushy and overcooked slow-cooked meal. Find the 4-quart cooker ($116.99) at amazon.com.

By the way, these babies are great for cooking many of the French soups, stews, and braises we love in winter. You’ll be seeing more and more French slow-cooker recipes from me in coming weeks.

MODERATELY PRICED GIFTS FOR THE FRENCH FOOD LOVER


4. French Café Apron from Jessie Steele

I bought this cute Jessie Steele Café Toile Apron ($27.21) a few years ago, and I always get compliments on it. I wear it to dress up denim jeans and a black turtleneck for my casual gatherings. It’s also cute enough to slip in and out of when you’re wearing that little black dress for your more stylish gatherings. The bow—which I found a little too cute for my tastes—is attached with a safety pin and easily removable. Also look for other Jessie Steele Aprons for Women.

Great gift idea: Combine this gift with a great French cookbook….hmmm, I wonder which one….

 

5. The Lodge Braiser

True, the Lodge Color Enameled Cast Iron 3-Quart Covered Casserole (Braiser)is not made in France; in fact, it’s made in China, but it’s designed by a time-honored American company (Lodge, which has been making cast-iron cookware for over 100 years).

So, if you don’t want to splurge for French pedigree with the Staub or Le Creuset, I can recommend this braiser. It’s made of enamel cast-iron, just like the French pans; see my review for more information. (PS: This company doesn’t call it a braiser; instead it’s referred to a the Lodge Color 3-Quart Casserole, but take my word for it–it’s a braiser!). PS: For some reason, the Blue braiser is less-expensive ($55.99) than the red casserole ($85.84).

 

6. A Signed Copy of The Bonne Femme Cookbook

Because readers have asked, for a very limited time, I’m offering signed copies of my book. I’ll personalize them whatever way you wish, and send them to you via US Mail. I’m only going to do this until December 12, because frankly, after that point, schedules will heat up and I might not be able to get it to you by Christmas. The cost is $35, via PayPal, which includes the book, personalization, shipping, and handling. If you want me to gift wrap it and send it direct to the recipient, the cost is $40. Get more details by emailing me directly at wemoranville[at]aol[dot]com.

Don’t need a signed copy? Simply buy it at Amazon.com.

 

 

 

 

7. A Terrific New Madeleines Cookbook

 Do you—or does someone you know—own a Madeleine pan? I do, and I must admit I don’t use it as often as I’d like to. Frankly, I just don’t have that many occasions to serve little French tea cakes, even though I love them.

That’s why I adore this new book: Madeleines: Elegant French Tea Cakes to Bake and Share($14.50): It offers tons of creative ways to use that Madeleine mold that go beyond tea cakes. Sure, there are sweet options, like Tahitian Vanilla, Chai Tea, Browned Butter, Almond Macaroon, and of course, amazingly luscious chocolate. But what intrigues me most are the savory Madeleines, which are an inspiring way to beautify a soup or stew supper. These include Gruyère and Rosemary Madeleines, Buttery Cornbread Madeleines, Herbes de Provence Madeleines, and Brie-Stuffed Madeleine Puffs, among others.

It’s a brand-new, just-out-this-season book, and I’m really excited about it. (PS: There’s a crabby review on Amazon about this new book, but don’t let that deter you–the same reviewer dissed my cookbook, too. So what does she know? )

PS: If you are in the market for a Madeline mold, the author of this book recommends nonstick molds. I found a great one on sale at Amazon: Bellemain 12-Cup Nonstick Madeleine Pan. As of this writing, it’s on sale for $8.95 (regular price: $19.95).

 

STOCKING STUFFERS  FOR THE FRENCH FOOD LOVER

 

8. Small Silicone Spatula—Great for Crêpes and French Rolled Omelets! 


If you know someone who loves cooking crêpes and omelets, tuck this absolutely fabulous Le Creuset Small Silicone Spatula ($9.16) into a stocking (or tie it into the ribbon of a larger gift). The flexible top end gets right under a crêpe so you can loosen it perfectly and flip it like a pro. I can’t make crêpes without this cutie!

 

 

9. Piment d’Espelette from the French Basque Country


I adore Piment d’Espelette–I often use the spice in eggs, fish, chicken, and pasta dishes. It’s made from a dried chile grown exclusively in the French Basque country. But it isn’t just any chili pepper: While some dried chilis are more about the heat than anything else, the Piment d’Espelette is mostly about everything else: It’s beautifully warming, richly spicy, and lightly fruity—with a tinge (rather than flare) of heat as its backdrop. It’s a great stocking stuffer for anyone who loves both French and Spanish food. ($15.35)

 

10. Fleur de Sel

I once interviewed chefs about why they love Fleur de Sel; “You can taste the sea in it!” said one. “It tastes more ocean-y,” said another. Indeed, Fleur de Sel, a natural, flaked sea salt, really does something remarkable to foods. It’s a great finishing touch, but I also simply love sprinkling it on meats before roasting–I love the way it won’t entirely melt into a roast chicken, for example, giving a little bit of texture and pop of flavor to the bird.

Le Saunier De Camargue Fleur De Sel Sea Salt ($10.68) is the brand I always put in my suitcase and bring back from France. I especially like the pretty packaging. Note, however: Be sure to tell the recipient what Fleur de Sel is. I gave some to [let’s let this person remain anonymous], and when I visited her house, she had it in her bathroom. She was using it as bath salts….eeeeks!

PS: I’d love to hear what’s on your gift wish-list this season! Please share.

Please note that any purchase you make through links on this page will help support my website—and it won’t increase your costs whatsoever. Add one, two, or a few of my items to your cart and keep shopping, if you wish—I’ll get a little credit for anything you buy when you get to Amazon through one of my links. Thanks so much for supporting Chez Bonne Femme. 

 

Print Friendly

My Chicken Blanquette—French Chicken Stew—in the Slow Cooker

Here’s French method for cooking chicken in the slow-cooker. It’s based on a classic French recipe for “blanquette.” And guess what–I’ve solved the problem of flabby skin on slow-cooked chicken. Read on!

French Chicken Stew for the Slow Cooker, based on a French Blanquette of Chicken

French Chicken Stew for the Slow Cooker, based on a French Blanquette of Chicken

Recently, on my Facebook page, I asked readers what kind of French recipes they’d like me to develop. Many of you said chicken, but added that you’ve always wondered how to avoid flabby skin on your slow-cooked chicken.

Well, here’s how: Take the danged skin off!

What about flavor, you ask?

No problem: Use the cut with the most flavor: thighs. Boneless, skinless chicken thighs are the way to go, mes amis!

I ask you: Who needs chicken skin when you have a chicken recipe with a flavorful, wine-laced, touch-of-cream-enriched sauce with mushrooms? That’s the secret here. After all, chicken blanquette was never meant to be made with skin-on pieces, so it’s not like we’re stinting on anything.

My little kitchen in my little town (Collioure).

My little kitchen in my little town (Collioure).

History of this recipe: I originally developed this recipe for the Better Homes and Gardens “Soups and Stews” book-a-zine. It was a plum assignment: When the editor contacted me, to develop some French stew recipes, I was actually in France, staying in a little vacation rental by the Mediterranean Sea. The weather had just hit a cold spell, and I was craving something warming and hearty—but something that tapped into the finesse that is France.

My editor and I decided to focus the story on blanquette—a French stew that’s finished with a tumble of fresh vegetables plus a touch of luscious cream to make it white—blanquette comes from the French word blanc (white). Blanquette is traditionally made with veal, but I turned to my French butcher to inspire other versions. I developed recipes for pork, lamb, and chicken.

Now that you, dear readers, have asked me to develop more French recipes for the slow cooker, I’ve decided to adapt my Chicken Blanquette recipe for the cooker. So here it is!

Step-by-step instructions (if you just want the recipe, scroll on down!)

1. Gather Your Aromatics

This is quite simply seasoned–the flavor comes in the richness of the wine-laced sauce that’s flavored-up with the ingredients below.

Salt, pepper, celery stalks, onion, parsley, bay leaf, carrot, cloves.

Salt, pepper, celery stalks, onion, parsley, bay leaf, carrot, cloves.

 2. Make yourself a Bouquet Garnie

Just tie together a small handful of parsley and a bay leaf. Avoid breaking the brittle bay leaf--you don't want bits of bay leaf in your stew (it's a food-safety issue).

Just tie together a small handful of parsley and a bay leaf. Avoid breaking the brittle bay leaf–you don’t want bits of bay leaf in your stew (it’s a food-safety issue). The bouquet garnie makes it easier to remove the parsley and bay leaf later. You can also use bouquet garnie bags (or spice bags), available at many kitchen stores.

 3. Stud the Onion with Some Cloves

Stud one quarter of the onion with a couple of cloves. This makes the cloves easier to remove later.

Stud one quarter of the onion with a couple of cloves. This makes the cloves easier to remove later.

4. Cut Up Your Chicken

Cut the chicken thighs into semi-large (1 1/2 to 2-inch) pieces. If you cut them too small, they'll break down into stringy bits during cooking time.

Cut the chicken thighs into semi-large (1 1/2 to 2-inch) pieces. If you cut them too small, they’ll break down into stringy bits during cooking time.

5. Ready, Set, Slow-Cook….

You’ll lightly brown the chicken, then add the aromatics and cooking liquid (wine and broth).

To note here: You want the celery, onions, and carrots in nice big chunks. They're only here to flavor the broth. You'll remove them later.

To note here: You want the celery, onions, and carrots in nice big chunks. They’re only here to flavor the broth. You’ll remove them later. I love my Cuisinart 3-in-1 Slow Cooker, as it lets me brown the meat in the cooker.

5. ….But Not for Too Long

Friends–in my view, the number one problem with slow-cooking chicken isn’t the flabby skin. It’s that you can’t cook it all day and expect it not to fall apart. I just don’t get these recipes that have you cooking boneless skinless chicken for 6 to 8 hours! It’ll end up breaking into strings.

I cooked my stew on low, and it was perfectly done after 3 hours. It could have stood maybe another hour of slow cooking, but any longer and it would have been mush. So, I’m sorry to say that this isn’t the recipe to plop into the cooker in the morning and come home to after 8 hours of work. But it is a great make-ahead recipe for a cozy Saturday or Sunday night.

6. The Finishing Touches

You could probably throw the mushrooms and green beans into the cooker about 1 hour before the stew is done (if cooking on low) or 1/2 hour before the stew is done (if cooking on high). But I’m not that kind of cook. I like my veggies to be cooked with more precision; therefore, I cook them separately (don’t worry–you’ll only need one pot!).

Thicken the stew with a beurre manie (butter and flour worked together into a paste); add the veggies, and you’re done. It’s a rather elegant dish, for a slow-cooker!

Voilà! My French Chicken Stew--in the Slow Cooker. (a.k.a.: Blanquette de Poulet Bonne Femme).

Voilà! My French Chicken Stew–in the Slow Cooker. (a.k.a.: Blanquette de Poulet Bonne Femme).

Enjoy!

Chicken Blanquette—French Chicken Stew—in the Slow Cooker
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
Don't pass on this recipe because the ingredient list looks long--you likely have many of these things on hand already. PS: This is great with baked rice, pureed potatoes, or parsleyed noodles.
Ingredients
  • 2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into quarters
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 1 medium onion, quartered
  • 10 fresh parsley sprigs
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ¾ cup dry white wine
  • ¼ cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 large carrot, cut into large chunks
  • 1 stalk celery, including leaves, cut into 2 or 3 pieces
  • ½ dried thyme, crushed
  • 1 pound haricots verts or thin green beans, trimmed
  • 2 cups quartered fresh mushrooms
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup whipping cream
Instructions
  1. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper to taste. On the browning setting of your slow-cooker (375°F), cook and stir the chicken in the hot oil until lightly brown. Press the cloves into one of the onion quarters. Using 100% cotton kitchen string, tie the parsley and bay leaf into a bundle (being careful not to break up the bay leaf). Add onion quarters, parsley bundle, wine, broth, carrot, celery, and thyme to the cooker.
  2. Cover and cook on the low-heat setting for 3 to 4 hours or on the high-heat setting for 1½ to 2 hours.
  3. About 20 minutes before cooking time is over, in a large saucepan cook the haricot verts, covered, in boiling salted water for 4 minutes or until barely crisp-tender (green beans will take a little longer). Drain. In the same saucepan, cook the mushrooms in 1 tablespoon of the butter until tender. Add the haricot verts to the saucepan; cover to keep warm.
  4. Remove the carrots, parsley/bay leaf bundle, clove-studded onion quarter, and celery stalks from the slow cooker; discard. In a small bowl, work the flour and the remaining 2 tablespoons butter into a smooth paste. Set the slow-cooker on 350° (or on High) and bring the liquid to a boil. Gradually whisk the butter-flour paste into the cooking liquid. Cook and stir until the liquid thickens and bubbles; cook and stir one minute more.
  5. Stir in the whipping cream and bring to a boil; stir in the haricots verts mixture. Cook until heated through.
  6. To sere, ladle stew into bowls; serve alongside rice, pureed potatoes, or noodles. Garnish with fresh snipped parsley, if desired.

 

 

 

 

Print Friendly