This simple chicken and orzo is comfort food perfection with a luxurious lemon, white wine orzo paired with crispy-skinned chicken thighs.
We were actually inspired by a Bon Appétit chicken and orzo recipe which prepares the orzo like a risotto by first cooking the orzo until it turns a nutty golden brown color and then slowly incorporating liquid – chicken and white wine in this case – gradually in additions until the liquid is fully absorbed and the orzo is enveloped in a rich, velvety sauce.
In this chicken and orzo recipe, we use fresh fennel and tomatoes for that perfect touch of acidity and aroma.
Simple Chicken and Orzo
- Wide ovenproof pan
- 8 bone-in skin-on chicken thighs
- 1 tablespoon neutral cooking oil
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 yellow onion
- 1 large fennel bulb stems and fronds included
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes
- 1½ cups dry orzo
- 1 cup white wine
- 3 cups chicken stock more if needed
- 1 small bunch basil About 15 basil leaves
- 1 lemon
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 400ºF. Pat the chicken dry and season all over with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a wide, ovenproof pan over medium-high.
- Add the chicken, skin-side down, and cook without moving for 5 minutes until crispy and golden brown.
- Flip the chicken and transfer to the oven and cook for 25 minutes or until the chicken reaches 160ºF. Transfer the cooked chicken to a warm plate and keep warm. Return the skillet to the stovetop, leaving any chicken fond in the skillet.
- While the chicken is baking, prepare the remaining ingredients. Peel and dice the onion. Cut the stems from the fennel bulb and keep separate. Cut the fennel bulb in half and remove the core. Slice the bulb into thin wedges and set aside. Pick a few fronds from the stems and set aside for serving. Next, keeping the fronds on the stems, slice the stems cross-wise. Cut the cherry tomatoes in half. Pick the basil leaves from the stems and tear in half. Juice the lemon.
Prepare the Orzo:
- Turn the heat on the pan used to fry the chicken to medium. Add the butter and once the butter has melted, add the onion. Cook, stirring regularly, for 5 minutes until softened. Next, add the sliced fennel bulb and cherry tomatoes. Cook for 5-7 minutes until softened. Season with salt and pepper.
- Add the orzo to the pan and cook, stirring for 2-3 minutes or until the orzo begins to turn golden brown. Add the reserved sliced fennel stems and fronds and cook an additional 2 minutes.
- Add the white wine and scrape up any browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring regularly, until the orzo has completely absorbed the liquid. Note: Adjust the heat as necessary to keep the orzo from sticking.
- Add the chicken stock, in half cup increments, stirring until absorbed and incorporated before adding more.
- Continue adding the chicken stock until all 3 cups have been absorbed. If you need more liquid, add more as necessary. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
Finish the Orzo:
- Once the orzo is al dente and all the liquid has been absorbed, stir in the basil leaves and lemon juice and remove from heat once the basil has wilted.
- Spoon the orzo into bowls and arrange two chicken thighs on top. Garnish with more fennel fronds and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, if desired. Enjoy!