Monday, March 19, 2007

Orzo “Risotto” with Chicken, Sausage and Peppers

Orzo (also known as melon seed pasta, due to its shape) is one of my favorite choices for pasta salad. I really like the shape and texture, and it makes for a very interesting cold salad. Here, I had the idea of using it for a hot dish in the same way one would use an Arborio rice to make the classic Risotto. Instead of boiling the Orzo in salted water and draining, I thought it would be interesting to cook it the same way risotto is cooked, by adding small additions of flavorful stock until it’s tender (or al dente if you prefer). I made that flavorful stock by braising chicken and sausage as you’ll see.

This dish is really all over the place; most of the ingredients are kind of Spanish/Portuguese, there are techniques from India and Italy involved, and just to make things even stranger, I use a chili pepper usually found only in Mexican cuisine. But, none of that matters, this dish tastes great and is really not hard to make. The other good thing is, whoever you serve this to probably hasn’t had it before, so no matter how it comes out you can always say, “yeah, that’s how it’s suppose to be!”

I’ve had many requests for a risotto demo. The reason I haven’t done one is because who wants to watch someone stand at a stove and stir a pot of rice? Well, I tried to edit this to make it somewhat bearable, but the basic technique is the same; slowly adding stock and stirring until its almost absorbed and then adding more. This is a dish that will be great the first time you make it, and REALLY great the second time you make it, as you get the timing down. My orzo took about 15-20 minutes to absorb enough stock to become tender – but that’s just a very rough guide for you since there are so many factors; the heat, size of your orzo, shape of pot, etc. Be brave and enjoy yourself…you're cooking!

By the way, I didn’t mention it in the clip, but I removed the skin and bones from the chicken thighs once they were cool enough to handle, before I added them back into the final dish. Also, this is one of the VERY rare dishes I didn’t add garlic to. The sausage I used had a lot of garlic in it so I didn’t think it was needed. Enjoy.

1/2 pound orzo pasta
6 chicken thighs (seasoned with 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp black pepper)
1 lb. Linguisa sausage (or any spicy sausage)
1 quart chicken stock
1 red bell pepper
1 green Pasilla or bell pepper
1/2 yellow onion
1 tbl paprika
1 tbl cumin
1 tbl Herb de Provence
1 tsp salt
1 bay leaf
fresh parsley


Gulfdiver said...

ok... so.. chicken stock.. chicken broth.. I've heard the amounts differ if you substitute.. whats the rule of thumb here? Is there a chicken stock that you can buy? or am I stuck with chicken broth.. HEP!

Chef John said...

I say stock by habit, but Im always using good quality supermarket chicken broth. There is NO difference.

Chef John said...

I do suggest organic brands if you can find it. Also, Kitchen Basics makes a nice commercial "stock" thats all natural. You can use any of these in all my recipes without worry. Even the little cubes work in a pinch!

Nathan said...

This was crazy good. Way to share all these recipes, Chef John!

Nate said...

Made this tonight minus the red/green pepper since my wife is not a fan. It was, in the other Nathan's words, crazy good. Added garlic and deglazed the pan a couple of times while cooking the sausage and chicken with wine. Wow. Thank you for the definite do-over recipe.

Annie said...

i'm in a cooking contest, and i'm so happy i came across this recipe! I am definately gonna be trying this out! looks super easy and looks like it taste great!

Vicky said...

Hi Chef John,
I'm excited to try this recipe this weekend, but first...
I'm in my first apartment and still building up my store of kitchen tools. I have yet to purchase a dutch oven, but I notice you use one a lot - can you tell me what's special about them?

Chef John said...

Its just a heavy pot with tight fitting lid that can go in the oven. It's a must have.

Ed Adams said...

Thanks for this idea Chef. I used sweet Italian sausage instead of linguica, because that's what I had laying around. It turned out good. Next time I'm going to use a kielbasa and something besides cumin. Michelle is not a big cumin fan which I didn't remember until she walked in from work and says, "It smells mexican." It still got her approval though.

Damon Brown said...

Hi Chef John,

I made this tonight for my family and my fiance' who is not a fan of cooked peppers did love these. I did some research (i.e.googled) and here in Atlanta the Pasilla pepper is called Poblano (East coast vs West coast thing??) and I too had to search for stock vs. broth (googled again and found out stock is made with bones where broth is made w meat...stock being more flavorful supposedly). Long story short this was a very flavorful, easy and most enjoyable recipe. First time cooking orzo and it came out perfect...well at least we thought so! :^) fiance' brought home this bottle of dehydrated garlic that says it can be used as normal garlic is used. I've used it twice now (added 2 teaspoons to this recipe) and I'm still on the fence about it...your thoughts? Seems to be ok...

Chef John said...

Fresh garlic is a gift from the gods! I never use the dried except for occasional dry rub. Plus fresh has amazing health benefits. Thanks!!

jenn step said...

Holy schmoly this was delicious!!! Thank you for sharing!

Elisha said...
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