I love comfort food. Who doesn’t? It’s hard to argue with (and say no to) a big bowl of hearty, cheesy, and carb filled deliciousness. Kind of like chocolate dipped in peanut butter. Or salt and caramel on top of chocolate. Seriously, who is the genius that thought of that? Anyway, it’s the same thing. I HAVE VERY LITTLE CONTROL, which is why I try to keep the amount of comfort food and sweets I make in check. They still have a place in my life, because no food is off limits in my world, I just need to stay mindful.
That brings me to this Chicken Divan recipe I made today in my slow cooker. Chicken Divan is a comfort food casserole, traditionally cooked in the oven, made with chicken, cheese, rice, and broccoli. I never thought it could be made in the slow cooker but I saw this recipe in my America’s Test Kitchen Slow Cooker Cookbook so I decided to give it a try.
The first thing I want to say about this Chicken Divan recipe is it’s not a dump and go slow cooker recipe. Just like my Italian Meatball Soup recipe, it needs a little extra love. But it is worth it, I promise. Taking the time to sauté the onions, garlic, and thyme brings out (or blooms) their flavor. You don’t get that by just throwing ingredients into the slow cooker. Also, the quick ruox made is used to thicken the sauce as it cooks. The extra steps only take about 15 minutes or so and, like I said, is worth it.
Also, in the last 30 minutes of the recipe, you need to add the rice and cheese. The broccoli goes in during the last 5 minutes. This was not an issue for me but if you want dinner to be ready as soon as you walk through the door this might be something to consider. Other than those couple extra steps this recipe is very easy to put together.
I made a couple changes to make this comfort food recipe healthier. Instead of heavy cream I used 1% milk and instead of white rice I used brown. I also used organic chicken thighs, broth, and vegetables. So even though this comfort food recipe was “stick to your ribs” good it was also good for you because it was made with wholesome ingredients.
Let’s talk taste. This Chicken Divan was AMAZING! I was pleasantly surprised how well it turned out. I wasn’t sure what to expect with making this recipe in the slow cooker, but it was delicious. It was so flavorful, cheesy, and perfectly comforting. If you are a Chicken Divan fan I highly recommend trying this recipe.
The last thing I want to say about this recipe is it’s filling and makes a lot so most likely you will have leftovers. It will keep great in the refrigerator but you can also freeze it. I portioned out into containers and stored in the freezer for easy lunches or dinners.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 medium onions, minced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
- 3 tablespoons white whole wheat flour (all-purpose is fine too)
- 1 cup chicken broth
- ½ cup 1% milk
- 1 teaspoon dry mustard
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 2 cups instant brown rice
- 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese
- ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
- 12 ounce bag frozen (steam in bag) broccoli
- In a medium pan heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium –high heat. Add onion, garlic, and thyme and cook until onions are softened and aromatic.
- Stir in flour and cook for another minute.
- Whisk in chicken broth. Scrape up any brown bits and smooth out flour lumps.
- Transfer onion mixture to the slow cooker.
- Stir in milk and dry mustard into the onion mixture.
- Season chicken thighs with salt and pepper, add to slow cooker, and coat evenly with the sauce.
- Cover and cook for 4-6 hours on low. **My recipe cooked for the full 6 hours.
- Remove chicken from slow cooker and cut into bite size pieces. Try not to shred the chicken.
- Place chicken back into the slow cooker and stir in shredded cheddar cheese, parmesan cheese, and rice. Cook for ½ hour on high.
- In the last 10 minutes cook frozen broccoli in microwave according to package directions. Stir broccoli into the slow cooker. Let sit for 5 minutes then serve.
This recipe can be made completely ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator or freezer. Try freezing these into portions for quick lunches or dinners.
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