Greek Lemon Chicken and Orzo

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Sometimes a recipe comes along that you just don’t change because it’s perfect. This is that recipe. I’ve made it several times and each time, it’s amazing. Better yet, it’s super simple. I wish I could take credit, but alas, I can only provide advice. The prize goes to Jeff Mauro, the Sandwich King from The Food Network, who apparently makes a lot more stuff than sandwiches. His recipe combines dill and lemon along with coriander to make a delicious meal.

Start out with fresh dill and grated lemon for your orzo. The flavor meld together nicely and screams Greek. I should try to make a dip with this. And what is orzo, you may ask. It looks like rice, but it’s a pasta that’s often used in salads, but also in casseroles like this one.

For the chicken, you’ll be using different seasonings, but only three (see how simple this recipe is?). In addition to salt and pepper, you’ll use ground coriander. And what is coriander, you may ask. It’s actually the seeds from the cilantro plant. Who knew? They have a citrus flavor when crushed, which is why it pairs well with dill and lemon.

To cut down on the number of bowls you use, combine the orzo mixture directly in the baking dish. Then, rub the seasonings on chicken. It will be peppery so if that’s not your thing, use half the pepper the recipe states.

Choose chicken that with a consistent thickness, meaning not super thick in the middle and skimpy thin at the ends. If this is not possible, consider pounding the chicken with a mallet to thin out the middle. I have found that two breasts per pound works best for me and doesn’t require any pounding. Just be sure to avoid using large breasts or they won’t cook through.

Place the chicken in the orzo mixture. Don’t freak out. The chicken broth will not wash off the chicken seasonings and make the chicken bland. It’ll all turn out in the end. Make sure your chicken is submerged so you don’t end up with dry chicken. Top with lemon.

And let me take a moment to tell you to use chicken stock, not broth. There’s a difference, they are not interchangeable, and you’ll thank yourself for using the right ingredient.

When baked, you’ll end up with this…

And this…

Did I mention how fancy it looks? You probably could pull this dish off when you have guests to impress.

One of these days, I’m going to try making this dish with other seasoning combinations. I’m thinking that tomato sauce, oregano, and cumin with a little chopped green olives might create a Spanish twist while experimenting with orange and parsley will produce an Italian dish. I encourage you to use your favorite seasonings in the orzo and chicken. Let me know what you discover!

Greek Lemon Chicken and Orzo

Ingredients

Orzo

  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 3 tablespoons butter melted
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 2 sprigs fresh dill chopped
  • 2 lemons zested and juiced
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 2 cups orzo

Chicken

  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 4 medium chicken breasts boneless, skinless
  • 1 lemon sliced

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  • For the orzo: In a 9-by-13-inch baking dish, whisk together stock, butter, salt, cornstarch, dill, lemon zest and juice, and garlic in a bowl. Mix in the orzo.
  • For the chicken: In a separate bowl, mix together the coriander, salt and pepper. Coat the chicken all over with the seasoning.
  • Add the chicken breasts, laying them so most of the chicken is submerged. Top with lemon slices.
  • Bake, uncovered, until the chicken registers an internal temperature of 165 degrees F, 35 to 40 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes.
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