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braised chicken breast with asparagus on a white plate

Braised Chicken Breast with Orzo

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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. 
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Cooking Style Braising
Diet and Health healthy-ish
Ingredient Chicken Breast, Orzo Pasta
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 4
Author Annette Tomei


For the braised chicken:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 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
  • 1 1/2-2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 1 lemon washed and cut into eights
  • 1 tbsp butter

For the orzo:

  • 1 quart water boiling
  • sea salt
  • 1 cup dry orzo pasta
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup crumbled feta
  • 1-2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp 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.


To serve:
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. Serve with a simple green vegetable on the side. 
To store:
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.