one pan chicken orzo with mushroom and greens
This versatile, easy one pan chicken orzo dinner goes from fridge to table in less than 30 minutes. It stretches a small amount of chicken a long way and sneaks in a lot of veg. I make a version of it around once a week, usually on a dashing between school and football night and it is always gobbled up with zero fuss. It sits around well if you’re eating at different times, and you’ll have minimal washing up to do at the end. Sold?
Mushroom or not mushroom (sorry)
I know mushrooms aren’t everyone’s cup of tea so if you don’t like them just leave them out – play around with how much mushroom you want by either picking the lower or upper end of the weight below. Remember that mushrooms lose loads of volume when they cook so that big pile will cook down to a small quantity.
Freestyling your one pan chicken orzo
This one pan chicken orzo is so versatile. Nail the method and play around with adding different proteins, veggies and seasoning. As a starter, you can also add some frozen peas to get extra greenery in. If you’ve got any leftover romesco or pesto, stir that through at the end to add more flavour.
- veggie – leave out the chicken and add a meat substitute or canned beans, use a vegetarian Italian cheese instead of Parmesan
- gluten-free – use risotto rice instead of orzo and cook for 20 mins (possibly add more water towards the end)
- dairy-free – replace the Parmesan with a teaspoon or two of nutritional yeast
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If you’re eating in shifts or have leftovers
Just re-heat the orzo and chicken together, adding a little water to stop it drying out. You can re-heat it in the microwave or in the pan you cooked it in, over a medium heat until piping hot. Leftovers will be fine in the fridge for 3 days and can be eaten hot or at room temperature.
- Hands on cooking time – 20 minutes
- Time from starting to eating – 30 minutes
- Cook once, eat twice – cook extra chicken for later in the week
Ingredients (serves 4)
- 1 tablespoon rapeseed (canola) oil
- ½ teaspoon fine grain sea salt
- 4 skinless boneless chicken thighs
- 250-500g (9-18 oz) (chestnut (crimini) mushrooms
- 3 cloves garlic
- 225g (8 oz) dried orzo pasta
- 500ml (just over a cup) boiling water
- 225ml (1 cup) dry white or rose wine, or replace with water with 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar added
- 1 lemon
- 30g (a third of a cup) freshly grated Parmesan
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 150g (3 oz) watercress or rocket (arugula) or a mixture of watercress and basil
- 150g (1 cup) frozen peas
- Large deep frying pan – I use my Scanpan Chef pan for all my one pan meals
- Metal tongs
- Microplane zester and coarse grater
- Citrus juicer
- Sharp chef knife and cutting board
- Silicone spatula
- Pepper grinder
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- Heat the oil in a large frying pan or casserole dish on a high heat (I use my Scanpan Chef pan for all my one pan meals – available through my shop). Scatter the salt over the chicken pieces then put them in the pan in a flat single layer, you may need to uncurl them slightly. When they start to sizzle, drop the heat to medium high, so you can still hear a gentle sizzle, and leave to cook without moving for 8-10 minutes. This allows them to develop a delicious golden crust. If you move them, they’ll tear and won’t brown. Don’t fiddle!
2. While the chicken cooks, slice the mushrooms into slices around 3mm (an eighth of an inch) thick. Don’t stress about precision. You can quarter them if the people you’re eating with are happy with bigger pieces.
3. Turn the chicken over and cook on the other side for 4 minutes or until it is opaque all the way through. Chicken that has come straight out of the fridge, or is in bigger pieces, will take longer to cook.
4. When the chicken is cooked, take it out of the pan and leave it on a plate, leave any crusty bits and juices i the pan. Leaving it rest will mean the chicken is juicer when you serve it. Pop another bowl or plate over it to keep it warm.
5. Toss the mushrooms into the pan and raise the heat to high to start them off. Stir and cook for around 5 minutes, stirring every minute or so. At first they’ll release water and then the water will evaporate off and you’ll be left with a smaller volume of more flavour-dense mushrooms.
6. Use a Microplane zester to grate the peeled garlic into the pan for the last minute of cooking. If you don’t have a Microplane, watch my video showing how to crush garlic with a knife.
7. Once the garlic has been mixed in and cooked for a minute, add the orzo. Stir then add the wine. Bubble until the strong alcohol smell has gone then add two thirds of the water, stir and simmer without covering the pan, until the orzo absorbs the liquid and is tender. Add more water if needed.
8. Add the still-frozen peas once the orzo is ready. The heat of the orzo will defrost them in seconds and the cold of the peas will stop the orzo from cooking. Take the pan off the heat.
9. Taste the finished orzo then add the Parmesan, salt, pepper and the juice and zest of half a lemon. Taste again, see the difference and adjust with more seasoning if needed.
10. To serve, roughly chop the watercress/rocket/basil and stir it through. Use scissors or a knife to chop the chicken into smaller pieces and scatter the chicken over the orzo. Grate the other half of the lemon zest over the top along with a little more black pepper. As always, if there will be drama with you combining things in this way, serve the elements separately and let people combine their own servings.
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