Friday, March 7, 2014

Chicken and Orzo Stew with Lemon

It's a full week into March and there are piles—tall piles—of snow outside my house. It's below freezing and I heard rumors of a "wintry mix" in the weather forecast. I'm ready for Spring. Like, really ready already.

Since the weather's not cooperating, I thought I could at least trick my taste buds into thinking Winter is almost over. This hearty stew warmed my soul on the chilliest of March days, and the bright flavor of lemon added a citrus sparkle that I needed. Although the original recipe called for adding lemon juice straight to the pot, I like the idea of doling out sunny lemon wedges so that each person can add as much as he wants. Plus there's just something so friendly about a bowl of lemon wedges on the table.

I hope you enjoy this stew as much as we did. I also hope Spring comes soon, but I'm not getting my hopes up on that one.

Chicken and Orzo Stew with Lemon
Gently adapted from Foodie Crush
Serves: 6-8

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed and cut into 1/2" pieces
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup flour
3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
6 carrots, peeled and sliced 1/8" thick
2 celery ribs, chopped small
1 small onion, peeled and chopped small
1 leek, trimmed, halved and thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
1 teaspoon dried tarragon
5 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup water
1 cup orzo
1 lemon, sliced into wedges for serving

Season chicken generously with salt and pepper, then dredge in flour, shaking to remove excess. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high. Add half of chicken and cook until it's golden brown, about 5 minutes, stirring halfway through so it browns evenly. Remove chicken to a plate and repeat with 1 additional tablespoon oil and remaining chicken. Remove the second batch of chicken to the plate and set aside.

And final 1 tablespoon of oil to the now-empty skillet and return to medium heat. Add carrot, celery, and onion. Season with salt and pepper and cook for about 4 minutes, until the vegetables are just starting to soften. Add leek, garlic, and tarragon and cook for another 2 minutes.

Stir in chicken broth and water and bring to a simmer. Turn heat down to medium-low and allow to simmer for 20 minutes. Stir in reserved chicken and orzo and cook for an additional 10 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and the orzo is tender. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with lemon wedges.

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