A few months ago my wonderful mother made what I thought was Spanish rice (a favorite around here, basically a rice pilaf with tomato) but instead of browning rice to start the pilaf, she browned orzo pasta.
Brilliant! It was so incredibly good. Silky and savory like our sopa seca de fideo angel hair dish, but with little rice-shaped orzo pasta. The browning of the orzo adds a toasty nutty flavor to the pasta.
So, I thought I would step the idea up a notch and make something akin to arroz con pollo, except with pasta instead of the arroz. It would be “Orzo con Pollo”.
It’s a winner! And the best part? Aside from it being absolutely can’t-stop-eating delicious, is that it’s really easy to make, all in one large skillet.
First you brown the chicken, then brown the orzo in the rendered fat, and then add some onions and garlic. Add the chicken back to the pasta, pour in some stock and crushed tomatoes, cover and cook until the pasta has absorbed the liquid.
You can do most of the prep while the chicken is browning, so the whole shebang takes maybe 35 minutes.
Check out this quick video we made to show how to make this Chicken and Orzo!
- 2 1/2 to 3 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon butter
- 12 ounces (2 cups) orzo pasta
- 1 1/2 cups chopped onion (about 1 medium onion)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 1/4 cups chicken stock
- 3/4 cup canned crushed tomatoes (including juices)
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 Prep and salt the chicken: Trim the chicken thighs of excess skin and fat. Sprinkle both sides with a little salt.
2 Brown the chicken thighs: Heat olive oil and melt butter on medium high heat in a large skillet (large enough to fit all of the chicken pieces) to coat the bottom of the pan. When the oil is hot, pat the chicken pieces dry on both sides with paper towels and place skin-side down in the pan. Let cook for 5 minutes or until the chicken has browned on one side.
Then turn the chicken pieces over and cook for another 4 minutes until lightly browned. Remove the chicken from the pan, set aside.
3 Brown the orzo pasta, add onions, garlic: Add the orzo pasta to the pan. Stir to coat and let the pasta brown. Once the orzo starts to brown, stir in the chopped onions.
Reduce the heat to medium and let cook, stirring often for 2 to 3 minutes until the onions begin to soften. Add the minced garlic and cook a half minute more.
4 Stir together stock tomatoes, salt, pepper: In a large measuring cup, stir together the chicken stock, crushed tomatoes, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and 1 teaspoon of salt.
5 Add back chicken, pour stock mixture over orzo: Place the chicken pieces skin-side up, on top of the orzo.
Pour the stock tomato mixture over the orzo. Increase heat to medium high and let the stock in the pan come to a full boil.
6 Cover and cook: Lower the heat to the lowest heat you need to maintain a bare simmer. Cover and let cook until the orzo has completely absorbed the liquid and the chicken is cooked through, about 10 to 12 minutes.
Remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes before serving.
Taste for salt and pepper and add more if needed. Sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley to serve.