I’m back from my mini-hiatus! The past two weeks have been a bit of a blur. The first was spent taking care of a very sick husband who was knocked off his feet following a bout of the dreaded norovirus. No cooking was necessary for about 5 days as he sustained himself on the BRAT diet. I, lucky to have missed the bug, treated myself to French bread sammies nearly every day/night. Really, when left alone to my own devices, all I need is bread and butter…and maybe an egg or three.
Then the following week was spent in Singapore, traveling for work. It was an amazing experience and I still can’t get over some of the dishes I had – chili crab, white pepper crab, the most delicious Tom Yum of my life, pho, laksa, kaya (coconut jam), etc. etc. But black sesame shaved ice really won me over the most and now I am on a mission to find it – I’m thinking/hoping/praying I can find some in Flushing (Queens).
For whatever reason, the jet lag from the 13 hour difference really hit me when I came home; not so much when I was over in Asia. I’m only finally starting to feel normal today. This past weekend I attempted to cook two special dishes for my husband, but I just couldn’t get myself together 100% and they came out pretty subpar. I mean, I even messed up the top layer of my -otherwise delicious – hot and sweet sausage lasagna. Who messes up lasagna!?
So, last night when I came up with this easy one pot of goodness, I was pretty excited and super satisfied. It’s a perfect, easy meal to throw together during the work week and there are leftovers for the next day’s lunch to boot.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1½ pounds of boneless chicken thighs
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 cup orzo
3 garlic cloves, minced
8 ounces grape tomatoes, halved
1½ cups low sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon capers
2 tablespoon Kalamata olives, halved
¼-½ cup of feta, crumbled
Fresh basil, chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Drizzle of finishing olive oil – I liked the smoked variety
First, toast the orzo. It’s a bit of a pain but it really improves the flavor. Heat a large skillet or a Dutch oven if you’re so inclined (I find a reason to use my Staub Cocotte for everything) over medium high heat. Toast the orzo until it is lightly browned but before it gets a bit too fragrant. Spoon the orzo into a bowl and set aside.
Next up is the chicken. Pat the thighs dry and season with oregano, paprika, salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in the skillet/Dutch oven on medium high heat until it is nice and hot, beginning to smoke. Brown the chicken for roughly three minutes on each side, then remove it and set it aside. Turn the heat down a notch, add in the other tablespoon of oil, and minced garlic. Cook for 30 seconds, until fragrant, but careful not to burn it. Then, pour in the broth and throw in the tomatoes and orzo. Give the mixture a good stir and bring it to a boil.
Finally, add the chicken back in, cover the skillet/Dutch oven, and let it sit on medium low heat until the orzo is tender and the chicken is cooked through. This will take about 15 minutes or so. Be sure to check on the dish from time to time as you don’t want the orzo to become mushy and overcooked.
When ready, turn off the heat and add in the capers, Kalamata olives, feta, and basil. Top it all off with a drizzle of nice finishing oil, give it another good stir or two and you’re ready to serve!