Peppery Parmesan Grilled Chicken Orzo is a bold and flavorful dish. Cooked with homemade broth and a dash of wine all in one skillet except the chicken, this dish is on the table in 30 minutes
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When I was a kid, Saturday morning meant cartoons. I’m talking the classics and the good stuff, not what passes as cartoons these days. In 2008 I bought a house, and watched HGTV every weekend for about 6 months. I finally accepted that I couldn’t afford to do all the things I wanted, and that the Yard Crashers people weren’t coming to Stillwater, so I started watching more Food Network. I usually only watch on weekend mornings, when they have cooking shows rather than competitions, featuring chefs I enjoy. One of my favorites is Nancy Fuller of Farmhouse Rules. She’s engaging, fun to watch, and seems very down to earth.
Recently, Nancy made a Peppery Parmesan Orzo that looked delicious and simple to prepare. I love Orzo, and always have it in the pantry, but I rarely cook with it. My only other orzo recipe on the blog is my Orzo with Onion, Garlic and Peppers, a delicious side dish that goes with everything.
The next day I decided to try Nancy’s recipe. With a few adaptations, I had Peppery Parmesan Grilled Chicken Orzo.
Peppery Parmesan Grilled Chicken Orzo is fabulous. It is spicy, but not overwhelming, and the orzo gets nice and creamy.
KEYS TO THE PERFECT PEPPERY PARMESAN GRILLED CHICKEN ORZO
- Onions and garlic are your friend! I use red onions because I like the pop of bold color, but you could certainly use yellow onion. For presentation I cut the onion into slightly larger pieces, but you could do a small dice. I use thin-sliced garlic, but you could also mince it if you don’t like larger pieces.
- To add heat, I use Red Pepper Flakes, and the beauty is you control the amount. Add the pepper flakes with the Avocado Oil as it heats, which releases more flavor. I also add a little bit more pepper flakes at the end, but that is personal preference. Just remember, a little goes a long way.
- Add the dry orzo to the skillet once the onions and garlic are soft, and then add a little bit of white wine. Use wine you like to drink! If you use wine you don’t like, you’ll end up with a recipe you don’t like
- A couple of years ago I learned to make Homemade Vegetable Broth. It’s easy to make, and has so much more flavor than store-bought. I use broth to add another layer of flavor to the dish.
- Nancy’s recipe calls for arugula, but I never have that in the fridge so I use fresh baby spinach instead. It looks like way too much spinach when you add it to the skillet, and then once it wilts, it doesn’t look like enough.
DON’T FORGET THE CHICKEN!
Nancy’s version of this dish is vegetarian. However, one of my very first adaptations was to add chicken, to make Peppery Parmesan Grilled Chicken Orzo a complete meal. I am a 100% dark meat girl, so I use boneless, skinless chicken thighs. If you prefer chicken breast, use it. I cut it into bite-sized pieces, season well with salt and fresh-cracked black pepper, and grill it on a Grill Pan. I add the chicken to the skillet at the end, right before adding the final touches.
THE FINISHING TOUCHES FOR PEPPERY PARMESAN GRILLED CHICKEN ORZO
Nancy’s recipe calls to add butter in the last few minutes of cooking. For a few years I was on a butter substitute kick so I used that. It works, but let’s be honest…it doesn’t compete with the real thing. And besides, a little goes a long way. Butter adds a very nice silkiness to the dish, and takes it up just one more notch.
I also add fresh Parmesan at the very end. Yes, the chunks of fresh Parmesan can be a little expensive. But it lasts for a long time, and fresh Parmesan has such a wonderful bite. There is absolutely no comparison between fresh and the can. Use as little or as much as you want!
SHOP THIS RECIPE
- 2 boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1 Tablespoon avocado oil
- 2 cloves garlic, thin-sliced
- 1/4 cup red onion, diced
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (more or less, to taste)
- 2/3 cup dry orzo
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- 1 1/4 cups vegetable broth (I use homemade)
- 2 teaspoons freshly cracked black pepper
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 2 cups fresh baby spinach
- 1/2 Tablespoon butter
- freshly grated parmesan, for garnish
- Heat grill pan and grill chicken until fully cooked through, Set aside
- In a large skillet, heat oil and red pepper flakes over medium heat.
- Add onions and cook for about 3 minutes, until onions are slightly softened. Add garlic and cook for one minute
- Stir in dry orzo, add white wine and let cook for 2 minutes
- Increase heat to medium-high. Add the vegetable broth, salt and pepper. When bubbles start to form, reduce heat to simmer. Cook, stirring often, until the orzo is tender and cooked through, about 20 minutes.
- When liquid is nearly absorbed, add spinach and stir until spinach has wilted. Add butter and stir to fully combine.
- Add grilled chicken and combine
- Portion into bowls, top with Parmesan. Add more red pepper flakes, if desired