The broccoli plants in my fall vegetable garden always seem to put out their first and most beautiful florets during the last week of November, and I put them to delicious use in combination with Thanksgiving turkey leftovers. One of my favorite dishes for this purpose is turkey divan, a casserole that pairs fresh broccoli spears, sautéed mushrooms, and leftover sliced turkey with mornay sauce and a gratin topping.
This main course recipe, an old standby heavily adapted from Joy of Cooking, is quite versatile. I make various iterations of the dish during the course of the year, not just with turkey leftovers, but also with chicken breasts and as a hearty vegetarian dinner main course with julienned carrots and a medley of mushrooms. Where calories are not a concern, substituting hollandaise for the mornay sauce topping also provides a stellar variation on the recipe.
1 1/2 pounds broccoli heads, with long stems attached
8 ounces (or more) cooked turkey or chicken breast, sliced or cubed
8 ounce mushrooms, sliced or whole (if small)
2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 tablespoons flour
1 cup chicken or turkey broth
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 cup half-and-half or cream
1 raw egg yolk
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated (or a combination of parmesan and gruyere cheeses)
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon dried bread crumbs or panko
- Lightly butter a large, shallow, rectangular, glass or ceramic baking dish. Set aside.
- Trim and peel the stems of the broccoli heads, if needed, so that they are slightly shorter than the width of your baking dish. Slice the heads along their length into spears, as shown in the photo above. Boil or microwave the broccoli spears until just tender and bright green. Drain well. Put the cooked broccoli spears in the prepared baking dish, as shown in the photo above, in alternating rows so that the florets are positioned along the long side of the baking dish.
- Place the sliced turkey or chicken on top of the broccoli in the prepared baking dish.
- In a casserole pan, sauté the mushrooms in the butter on medium heat until lightly browned. Transfer the mushrooms, using a slotted spoon, to the prepared baking dish, sprinkling them on top of the turkey or chicken, as shown in the photo above. Retain the remaining drippings in the casserole pan.
- On medium heat in the same casserole pan used to sauté the mushrooms, whisk flour into the remaining drippings and sauté for approximately 1-2 minutes until golden. Gradually (important!) add the broth and lemon juice, continuously whisking as you do so, until a smooth, thick sauce is achieved.
- Place the egg yolk a small bowl. Whisk the half-and-half into the yolk. Very gradually (important!) add the egg yolk/half-and-half mixture to the sauce simmering in the casserole pan, whisking well as you do so. Remove casserole pan from the heat and add grated cheese, stirring well until melted and well incorporated. Taste and correct the seasoning of the sauce, adding salt and pepper to taste.
- Drizzle the sauce on the sliced turkey or chicken in the prepared baking dish. Top with bread crumbs or panko.
- Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 20 minutes until the topping is lightly browned and the broccoli tender. Serves 4-6.
If you prefer not to use the egg yolk shown in this recipe, simply add the half-and-half and grated cheese at the end of step #5 above. Taste the sauce, correct the seasoning if needed, and proceed to step #7 above.