Skillet Chicken and Orzo

Skillet Chicken and Orzo

Weeknight cooking can be hard!

You forgot to take something out of the freezer, the fridge is empty, and you only have an hour to get something on the table. This is just a few of the hurtles busy families face daily in the quest to enjoy a family meal together. Skillet Chicken and Orzo is a great weeknight meal that’s easy to prepare, dirties only one pot and can be on the table in about an hour. It’s also super delicious with minimal effort.

A shallow serving dish with Skillet Chicken and Orzo garnished with fresh herbs by Compelled to Cook. A cast iron skillet with a serving spoon sits in the background.

Tips to easier weeknight meals

1. Make a meal plan for the week which can be as simple as writing down what meals you intend to prepare. Have fun with it by including the family in your choices. Including others helps to identify preferences and dishes that everyone likes.

 2. Make only one trip to the grocery store by purchasing the ingredients needed for each meal in advance.

3. Take items out of the freezer to have completely thawed and ready for use.

4. Make simple dishes that can be on the table within an hour or so.

5. Make dishes that other family members can help with such as washing and chopping vegetables.

6. Make only one meal that everyone can/will eat. So if you have a dish that everyone loves except the “onion” hater, then make the dish without onions and therefore suitable for everyone.

7. Don’t be afraid to settle for something as simple as eggs on toast for supper.  Eggs are very nutritious and quick to prepare. Make them a great meal by simply sauteeing up a few greens, sausage and/or vegetables.  Top with olives, cheese, breadcrumbs, or chives for a great weeknight meal. 

8. If you gotta give your 5-year-old a “grilled cheese night” in exchange for eating other meals later in the week, then everyone eats grilled cheese, making it about balance and compromise.  Besides, who doesn’t like grilled cheese!!

9. Stick mostly to recipes/dishes you are comfortable and familiar with making during your busiest days.  No one wants to fumble around with a new recipe when time is tight.

10. Make extra when you can and freeze for use later, either as a leftover lunch or a meal for someone who gets home late.

 

Panfried chicken thighs in a cast iron skillet in preparation for Skillet Chicken and Orzo.
Sauteed mushrooms in preparation for Skillet Chicken and Orzo in a cast iron skillet on a metal trivet.

The key to Skillet Chicken and Orzo is to give the chicken and mushrooms a good sear. The mushrooms need a very hot pan and should not be overcrowded. Resist the urge to stir them and you will hear them “squeak”. That is a sign that they are becoming golden on the bottom and starting to release some of their liquid. The chicken also benefits from a good sear that helps to render the fat and crisp up the skin. Taking the time to brown both ingredients lends to a more flavourful dish that you’ll want to make again and again. Enjoy!

A cast iron skillet with Skillet Chicken and Orzo ready to be served and garnished with fresh herbs by Compelled to Cook.

Want more great weeknight options? Here are a few of my favourites.

Tarragon Chicken Cutlets

Red Curry Coconut Shrimp

Mushroom and Arugula Quinoa Bowls

 

A shallow serving dish with Skillet Chicken and Orzo garnished with fresh herbs by Compelled to Cook. A cast iron skillet with a serving spoon sits in the background.

A shallow serving dish with Skillet Chicken and Orzo garnished with fresh herbs by Compelled to Cook. A cast iron skillet with a serving spoon sits in the background.
Skillet Chicken and Orzo
Print Recipe
    Servings Prep Time
    3-4 people 50 minutes
    Cook Time Passive Time
    25 minutes 2 minutes
    Servings Prep Time
    3-4 people 50 minutes
    Cook Time Passive Time
    25 minutes 2 minutes
    A shallow serving dish with Skillet Chicken and Orzo garnished with fresh herbs by Compelled to Cook. A cast iron skillet with a serving spoon sits in the background.
    Skillet Chicken and Orzo
    Print Recipe
      Servings Prep Time
      3-4 people 50 minutes
      Cook Time Passive Time
      25 minutes 2 minutes
      Servings Prep Time
      3-4 people 50 minutes
      Cook Time Passive Time
      25 minutes 2 minutes
      Ingredients
      Servings: people
      Instructions
      1. Preheat oven to 350℉
      2. Heat 1/2 tbsp oil in a cast iron or oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat. Pat chicken dry with a paper towel. When the oil is hot add chicken thighs and cook about 5-6 minutes per side until skin browned. Remove to a plate.
      3. Using the same skillet, heat the remaining oil until hot over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and allow to cook without stirring until bottoms are golden and moisture is starting to evaporate. Once they have browned give them a stir and continue to cook for 1-2 minutes. Add garlic and shallots and cook for 3-5 minutes until starting to soften, stirring occasionally.
      4. Add wine and allow to reduce for about 3 minutes. Stir in broth, orzo, cream cheese, herbs, salt and pepper. Once the cream cheese is fully incorporated add the chicken back to the pan with the skin side up. Push chicken down into pasta as far as they will go. Cover with a lid or tin foil and bake for 20-25 minutes.
      5. Remove from oven and turn oven to broil. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and broil for 1-2 minutes to melt the cheese. Remove from oven and allow to rest for 2 minutes prior to serving.
      Recipe Notes

      I personally like the garden vegetable cream cheese, however you may also like the garlic cream cheese.

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      Lamb Meatballs with Olives and Feta

      Lamb Meatballs with Olives and Feta

      Do you like lamb?  I certainly do, and I believe it’s a meat you either like or don’t.  I also believe that some people associate lamb with mutton, which has turned them away from it. Mutton is from the same animal as lamb, but stronger in taste and usually much tougher due to the age of the animal.  Mutton is meat from a sheep that is 1-3 years old, which yields a stronger, gamier taste, and is tougher due to the muscles working longer.  Lamb, on the other hand, is meat from young lambs that are less than a year old.  Young spring lamb is tender and milder in comparison to mutton.

       

      My personal favourite in cuts of lamb is chops, specifically grilled chops, which are delicious with a mustard rub.  I also enjoy lean ground lamb and lamb shoulder.  The wonderful thing about lamb is that it can take on robust, bold flavours and pairs wonderfully with the tomatoes and olives in this Mediterranean style dish.  Saucy, rustic and full of flavour, Lamb Meatballs with Olives and Feta is a welcome change from regular beef meatballs. Perfect with rice or toasty bread!  Enjoy!

      If you’re a lamb lover like me, you’ll also want to try Braised Lamb Shoulder. Fork tender lamb shoulder braised in a creamy mushroom sauce.

       

      Recipe source for Lamb Meatballs with Olives and Feta:  Compelled to Cook

      Lamb Meatballs with Olives and Feta
      Print Recipe
        Servings Prep Time
        3-4 people 30-35 minutes
        Cook Time
        45-50 minutes
        Servings Prep Time
        3-4 people 30-35 minutes
        Cook Time
        45-50 minutes
        Lamb Meatballs with Olives and Feta
        Print Recipe
          Servings Prep Time
          3-4 people 30-35 minutes
          Cook Time
          45-50 minutes
          Servings Prep Time
          3-4 people 30-35 minutes
          Cook Time
          45-50 minutes
          Ingredients
          Meatballs
          Sauce
          Servings: people
          Instructions
          Meatballs
          1. Add all ingredients except oil to a large bowl. Gently combine with your hands or a wooden spoon. Roll mixture into 17-18 evenly sized meatballs approximately 1 1/4 ounces each.
          2. Heat oil in a cast iron or oven safe skillet over medium heat until hot. Arrange meatballs in a single layer and brown on all sides, about 20 minutes. Remove meatballs to a paper towel lined plate and drain all but 1 tbsp of fat from skillet.
          Sauce
          1. Preheat oven to 350℉.
          2. To the skillet add chopped shallot and garlic, sauté for 2-3 minutes over medium heat until soft, stirring often. Pour in white wine to deglaze the pan, stirring to scrape up any browned bits in the pan. Add chicken broth and allow to simmer for about 2 minutes.
          3. Using your hands, crush tomatoes and add to skillet along with oregano, paprika and pepper. Stir to combine and bring to a simmer. Add meatballs back to pan, stirring to coat with sauce.
          4. Place in oven uncovered and bake for 20-25 minutes until sauce is reduced, stirring once. Remove from oven and stir to coat with sauce. Sprinkle with feta cheese and olives, return to oven for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and garnish with chopped red onion and fresh oregano if desired and serve immediately on top of rice or with crusty bread.
          Recipe Notes

          -dampened hands help to roll meatballs.