Now that the holidays are over, I'm guessing that most people are looking for healthier meals. I, on the other hand, am turning to healthy meals that still border on comfort food. Let's be real, 2020 has been a hard year and January is still going to be difficult. The weather's cold and I'm not sure I want to be eating salads every day. So, I'm still going to be enjoying my carbs and sugar, just not as heavily as I did in December. The first meal on the menu to jumpstart this healthier habit is my one skillet lemony chicken and orzo. Yes, it still has pasta (hellooo orzo!) but the braised white wine chicken with caramelized lemon and fresh dill balance out the carbs, making it feel healthier. Plus, it just tastes darn good.
One Skillet Lemony Chicken with Orzo
- 2 tablespoon olive oil divided
- 4 chicken thighs boneless
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
- ½ lemon thinly sliced
- ½ onion chopped
- 1 leek sliced
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- ½ teaspoon red chili flakes
- 1 teaspoon oregano fresh
- 1 cup orzo
- ½ cup white wine
- 1 ½ cup chicken broth
- 1 tablespoon dill fresh
- grated parmesan for sprinkling
- Season the chicken thighs with paprika, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a deep saute pan over medium-high heat. Sear the chicken until golden brown on both sides, about 5 minutes. Remove the chicken and set aside.
- Heat another 1 tablespoon in the pan and lay the sliced lemon in an even layer. Caramelize the lemon until browned on both sides, about 2 minutes. Remove and set aside.
- Add the chopped onion and sliced leek in the same pan and saute until softened, about 4-5 minutes. Add the minced garlic, red chili flakes, and oregano and saute for another 30 seconds. Season with salt and pepper.
- Add the orzo, stirring to combine, and toast the pasta for 1 minute in the dry pan. Add the white wine and chicken broth and bring to a boil. Add the chicken and caramelized lemon back to the pan, cover, and reduce the heat to low. Continue to cook for 15 minutes or until the orzo is tender and the chicken juices run clear.
- Season the chicken with orzo with salt and pepper, adding more red chili flakes if desired. Sprinkle fresh dill and grated parmesan on top and serve immediately.
**Helpful tips and common mistakes
This one skillet lemony chicken and orzo checks off multiple points. It's easy to make, tastes great, is somewhat healthier, and very adaptable.
To start, I used chicken thighs for this recipe but you can swap it for chicken breast. Make sure the chicken is boneless since it takes much longer to cook than bone-in chicken. If your meat is particularly thick, butterfly the meat to make it thinner. You want the chicken to cook at the same time as the orzo so you don't want enormous pieces of chicken.
Season the poultry with paprika, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper and sear it on both sides until browned. Remove the chicken from the pan and caramelize the lemon slices. The lemon browns pretty quickly so keep an eye on it.
Remove the lemon and set it aside with the chicken. Saute the vegetables including the chopped onion and leek and saute until tender and lightly browned. I love leeks in dishes like this but you can omit it if you prefer. You can also add other vegetables such as asparagus, broccoli, and brussels sprouts.
Now add the orzo and let it toast in the pan with the pan, giving it that nutty flavor. You can also use rice, quinoa, or another type of pasta but personally, I think orzo is the best match.
Add the liquids including the white wine and chicken broth and bring it to a boil. You can also omit the white wine and substitute it with more chicken broth if desired. Add back the chicken and caramelized lemon, cover, and cook until the orzo is tender and the chicken is done.
And that's it, folks! Pretty easy to make, no? Finish the one skillet lemony chicken and orzo with extra red chili flakes if desired, fresh dill, and sprinkle of parmesan, because, well everything is better with parmesan. This meal, will without a doubt, be added to the rotation!
For more chicken inspiration check out this cilantro lime chicken with charred corn salsa!