What does a chef eat at home?
Rarely do I take the time to prepare myself dinner–no matter how simple of a recipe. But when I treat myself, it’s with simple dishes like this humble home-cooked, braised chicken. It’s an easy and nutritious recipe but one that satisfies my taste buds and soul as much as a restaurant meal. A braised chicken breast is succulent and easy to make. Once you get the technique down, it’s sure to become one of your go-to’s.
If you don’t love orzo, you can substitute with your favorite pasta or grain. But orzo is what I love to have with my braised chicken. I think the combination is a classic. (I also love the leftovers as a cold salad!)
This is the kind of fast, comfort meal Chef Annette Tomei cooks for herself when she's at home. A great way to get a meal on the table without stress, this dinner is straightforward and flavorful.
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons crushed garlic
- 1 1/2 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1/2 preserved lemon inner flesh removed, cut into thin slivers
- 12 large Sicilian green olives pitted and quartered
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 4-6 boneless skinless chicken breasts
- salt and fresh ground pepper
- 1 lemon washed and cut into eights
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 quart water boiling
- sea salt
- 1 cup dry orzo
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1/3 cup crumbled feta
- 1-2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon fresh chopped oregano
- salt and fresh ground pepper
In a large straight-side skillet with a snug fitting lid, heat the olive oil and garlic over medium heat until garlic softens. Add the oregano, preserved lemon, and olives. Sauté 2-3 minutes then carefully add the wine and lemon juice.
Pat the chicken breast dry and season well with salt and pepper, then place in the simmering liquid. Return to a simmer. Arrange the lemon wedges among the chicken breasts. Cover and simmer over low – medium heat for approximately 20 minutes.
While the chicken cooks, cook the orzo (approximately 5-7 minutes in boiling salted water), drain and transfer to a bowl; toss with olive oil. Add crumbled feta, lemon juice and oregano. Hold.
Returning to the chicken – at the end of 20 minutes, remove the chicken to a plate to drain briefly. Raise the heat on the liquid and begin to reduce. Meanwhile, heat a sauté pan over medium-high heat.
Add butter to the hot sauté pan and immediately place the chicken breasts, presentation side down first. Arrange the lemon wedges in the pan as well. Sear both sides until golden brown and the lemons are caramelized on all sides.
Remove the chicken and lemons to the plate again and immediately pour the hot braising liquid into the hot sauté pan to deglaze and reduce further (it will be very hot and bubbly when poured). Reduce heat to simmer. Season to taste.
Chop the caramelized lemon peel into small bits and mix into the orzo; season to taste.
Place a scoop of the orzo on a plate. Arrange a chicken breast (whole or sliced and fanned) on the orzo. Spoon sauce over the chicken, including olives and preserved lemon bits.
Place chicken breast in a shallow container (cool thoroughly) and pour the cooled sauce over the top. Can be held in the refrigerator for approximately 2 days. Re-heat thoroughly. The orzo can be cooled and stored in the refrigerator for approximately 2-3 days. Can be enjoyed warm or cold like pasta salad.
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