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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      One Pot Turkey Mushroom Pasta

      One Pot Turkey Mushroom Pasta

      Bring on the leftovers!

      Get ready for the inevitable week of turkey leftovers with this creamy and delicious One Pot Turkey Mushroom Pasta.  It will gobble up 2 cups of leftover turkey while being quick, easy and perfect for the whole family.  This one tastes a little like turkey pot pie, without the pie.  One of the ways I make sure there’s added flavour is to brown the mushrooms nicely.  The trick here is to start with a hot oiled pan, don’t overcrowd the mushrooms and allow them to cook on one side until golden before stirring.  It’s a great way to maximize flavour.  I also like to use flavoured cream cheese for added flavour.  For this recipe, I used a garden vegetable cream cheese, however, herb and garlic would also work well. 

      While this post is geared at using up leftover turkey, you could also use leftover chicken, purchased rotisserie chicken or even frozen cooked cubed chicken. The whole premise is minimal cooking involvement but great tasting creamy pasta cooked in one pot.  

      Being a shift worker, I’m a big, big fan of one pot dinners.  Working nights, I still cook dinner prior to leaving for work, so easy and relatively convenient is a must when it comes to getting dinner on the table. One Pot Turkey Mushroom Pasta is just one of my go-to meals to make my work week easier. 

      Author:  Compelled to Cook

      One Pot Turkey Mushroom Pasta
      Print Recipe
        Servings Prep Time
        4 people 20 minutes
        Cook Time
        25 minutes
        Servings Prep Time
        4 people 20 minutes
        Cook Time
        25 minutes
        One Pot Turkey Mushroom Pasta
        Print Recipe
          Servings Prep Time
          4 people 20 minutes
          Cook Time
          25 minutes
          Servings Prep Time
          4 people 20 minutes
          Cook Time
          25 minutes
          Instructions
          1. In a large skillet heat oil over high heat. Add sliced mushrooms and allow to cook until golden on one side and moisture is starting to evaporate. Stir mushrooms and cook for an additional minute. Add chopped onion and garlic. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally until starting to soften, 3-5 minutes.
          2. Add wine and stir to deglaze the pan. Cook for 1-2 minutes until most of the wine has cooked out. Stir in 3 cups of chicken broth, pasta, thyme and parsley. Cover and cook for 10 minutes on low, stirring once.
          3. Whisk cornstarch into remaining 1/4 cup of chicken broth. Stir into pasta and allow to come to a full simmer to reach full thickness. Stir in cream cheese, turkey, peas, salt and pepper. Allow to cook 1-2 minutes to heat turkey and peas. Serve immediately with freshly grated parmesan cheese.