One Skillet Chicken with Buttery Orzo and Limitations

Soundtrack: My Favorite Murder, Episode 104

I don’t want to read your ramblings, I just want to make the recipe: One Skillet Chicken with Buttery Orzo

Star Rating: FIVE FUCK YEAH STARS ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I’m typing this with one hand because I had a bad fall snowboarding this weekend. My left arm is trussed up in a sling, swollen and bruised and fairly disfigured, and my movement is so limited that I can’t put on a bra or socks. On the bright side, I didn’t break anything, and I get to have a bra assistant for the week (fancy way of saying one of my friends has accepted the role of doing up my bra each morning when I get to work).

Because of the pain and lack of movement, I thought I might miss making a new recipe this week. The thing is, I was cooking 2/3rds of this dish for friends who just had a baby, and had already been to the grocery store to acquire the ingredients. I was faced with a load of spoiled food – something which I am actively trying to avoid – or getting creative with the preparation.

The chopping portion of this recipe is not particularly onerous, only requiring you to chop one leek and one fennel bulb. Whilst probably not safe, turns out you can chop a vegetable by leaning on it to hold it still. Not leaning so hard that it hurts your dumb injury, but hard enough that the little fucker doesn’t roll away. It wasn’t the most uniform vegetable chopping of my life, but it did the job, and all my digits are still intact.

Onto the food itself. Goddamn it was tasty. And this is surprising because – confession time – I’m not a massive fan of chicken. I find it boring and bland and unimaginative – the tofu of the meat world. But in this context it just works.

As outlined in the recipe I cooked the chicken thighs with the skin on, especially because some of the fat which renders is used to cook the vegetables. Upon serving I did choose to remove the skin because I don’t really like it all that much and it seems like completely unnecessary calories. If you like chicken skin, it looked golden and crispy, and you do you, boo.

But the real star of this recipe was the orzo. I’d forgotten that orzo even existed! In this recipe you cook it with the leek and fennel for a few minutes before adding stock so the grains char a little bit first. The cooking method is similar to cooking risotto, adding 1/2 a cup of chicken stock at a time until it absorbs.

What really brings all the flavours together is the tablespoon of butter (I use lactose-free butter, because I’m lactose intolerant – another limitation) and the juice of half a lemon. It takes the dish from kind of interesting to over-the-top incredible. It gives the orzo a silky lustre, and the lemon adds a top note to the earthy vegetables and cuts through the richness of the butter. I honestly had to stop myself from having a second serving because I still plan to get this food to the aforementioned friends. I give this recipe my first five stars of the year and will be making it again soon. And you should too.

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