In our household, a resplendent company’s coming entrée is chicken divan. One day while discussing how to prepare wild turkey breast differently than our usual method of grilling, we came upon the idea that this prime part of a turkey would go great in a divan, that is, a casserole that also contains cheese, asparagus and/or broccoli.
While the origin of many popular dishes comes from foreign countries or is lost in the mist of bygone centuries, neither is the case with chicken divan. This entrée came about in the 1950s at a New York restaurant called, appropriately enough, the Divan Parisienne. In French, divan means a meeting place, and why not have some of your best turkey hunting buddies over for this entrée. After all, if fine restaurants can serve chicken divan, we NWTF members can celebrate a successful spring or fall hunt in style as well.
12-14 fresh broccoli spears and/or a similar number of asparagus stalks
2-3 cups wild turkey breast, cooked and shredded
1 tablespoon butter
2 teaspoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1 large chopped shallot
4 tablespoons flour
1 cup chicken or turkey broth
1 cup milk
¼ cup sherry, optional
1½ cups shredded Swiss cheese
¼ cup Parmesan cheese
Cook the broccoli and/or asparagus in boiling water for about two minutes. Drain and cover with ice water to halt the cooking process. This will tenderize the broccoli before adding it to the casserole.
In a saucepan, melt the butter and add the olive oil. Sautee the garlic and shallots until tender, about three minutes, then stir in flour and whisk for four to five minutes until the flour turns slightly golden tan and the “rawness” has a chance to cook out.
Gradually whisk in the broth, milk and sherry (if desired), cooking until thickened. Add ¾ cup Swiss cheese. Sample at this time and add salt and pepper to taste.
In a baking dish, place the broccoli spears and/or asparagus stalks and cover with shredded turkey. Pour thickened sauce over top. Sprinkle with remaining Swiss cheese and Parmesan cheese. Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.
Since wild turkey is so lean and dry, preparing the meat in a casserole with a sauce is a means of eliminating that dryness and providing additional moisture and taste.
We cook the turkey meat in a pressure cooker before putting it in the casserole.
Also, as a company dish, note that this entrée can be partially prepared and then popped in the oven for the final 30 minutes to finish while you greet guests and visit a bit until time to eat.
Leg and neck meat also go well with this recipe, but, in our opinion, the breast meat is the best match.
Since you already have green vegetables in the divan, none will be needed to be prepared separately. A good side dish would be potatoes, baked or mashed. Cherry tomatoes add a dash of color and complement the turkey as well.