Dinner, Faster

Mondays Are Hard, This One-Pot Chicken Recipe is Not (& It's Dinner!)

September 11, 2017

It can be hard to enjoy dinner when you're thinking about the mess waiting for you in the kitchen. How did you possibly use 10 spoons and 2 pans and 3 dishtowels? It seems like a cruel trick!

To save you from being elbow-deep in a sink of dirty dishes, please accept this gift—by way of onetinyspark—of Chicken Thighs with Tomato, Orzo, Olives, and Feta. It cooks in one pot and you only have to chop three ingredients: garlic, olives, and grape tomatoes (and hey, there's a handy trick for expediting that last one!).

But what use is a one-pot dish that doesn't give you joy? What's convenience without satisfaction? This recipe—we said it was a gift, right?—offers both.

Why it works:

To build flavors in the same pan, you'll coax the most out of each component:

  1. The orzo: Take a couple of extra minutes to toast the orzo before you really dive into the recipe. Much like roasting pasta or toasting grains, this extra step imparts a deeper, toastier flavor.
  2. The chicken: By browning the thighs, seasoned with dried oregano and paprika, you'll do justice to the chicken skin and prep the pan for the next step.
  3. The cooking liquid: With the chicken thighs in the wings (and out of the pan), you'll sauté garlic, then add tomatoes and chicken stock. Return the orzo and the chicken to the pot for a 15-minute staycation, after which you'll be left with savory orzo, flavorful-all-the-way-through chicken, and bubbly, sweet-salty tomatoes.

How to make it even faster:

If you're looking to streamline the process even more, you can rearrange the steps outlined above. Brown the chicken, set it aside, then move onto the orzo: Toast it the chicken fat and minced garlic (risotto-style), then add the tomatoes and broth and proceed with the recipe as written.

How to switch it up:

  • Use chopped full-sized tomatoes if you don't have grape ones, and add other fresh herbs (oregano, chives, thyme...) that you have. Stir in Parmesan pebbles in place of feta crumbs.
  • You can even swap out of the orzo for a similar small pasta like couscous or even a grain like farro (but be aware that the cooking time might change—you may have give it some more time before you add in the chicken).
  • After you cook the chicken, deglaze the pan with a splash of white wine before adding the minced garlic and the orzo.
  • Switch out the Kalamatas for Castelvetrano olives.
  • Add chile flakes or chopped preserved lemon or a squeeze of harissa when you sauté the garlic.

Ready? Set? Dinner!

Mondays, right? What's your beginning of the week go-to dinner? Tell us in the comments.:

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This article was originally published in August 2016, but Mondays haven't gotten any easier.

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Jan B. July 30, 2018
well, it happens to be Monday and I am making this once again.. BUT I find it to be my "go To" and make it regularly. The capers and feta are a nice add on and the flavors come together beautifully. I use vegetable broth but otherwise I do not change anything. Yum!!
AntoniaJames September 12, 2017
A similar one-pot wonder, a favorite in our family since it was first published here (and my son in grad school now makes it for himself and his friends), is this caramelized onion, preserved lemon and sumac chicken with Israeli couscous: https://food52.com/recipes/25887-chicken-with-caramelized-sumac-onions-preserved-lemon-and-israeli-couscous (The onions are not really caramelized, so it doesn't take that long to make.) We use boneless thighs, reducing the total cooking time by a few minutes. ;o)
Katherine October 29, 2016
I make a very similar dish with shrimp, which is one of my favorite simple pleasures. Can't wait to try this. As to Monday night? I am amazed as I go through these blogs that so many people have these things planned out. It never occurred to me. Too many new things to try. Have to say, the shrimp and orzo is an unusual repeater, and I am sure this one will be as well.
Kathy October 18, 2016
Great dish! Made it as is for my husband and me. It's a nice one-pot meal and doesn't take too long to make. The olives, feta and capers add extra flavor, as does the paprika. Colorful and tasty.
Kimber September 6, 2016
Can I use tomato sauce instead of tomatoes. Not a fan of them