This is a dish I love to throw together when I'm making dinner for myself. It's unfussy and comforting, both in the puttering while it cooks and in the eating. Have an onion instead of a shallot? That's fine, use a bit of that. Don't have either? Don't worry about it. Want to fancy it up? Finish with fresh herbs, such as parsley or thyme, or with a few scrapings of lemon zest. —Treble723
1 - 2
Shallot, diced fine
Clove garlic, minced
Orzo, a couple of good fistfuls
Vermouth, a splash
1 can (1 3/4 cup) low sodium chicken stock
1 slice deli ham (1/4 inch thick) or a ham steak
A handful of frozen peas
Cream, as much or as little as you'd like
Hard cheese to grate, such as Parmesan, Pecorino, or Grana Padano
Heat your olive oil over medium low in a small pan, and add the shallot. Cook until it softens, and then add garlic.
Increase the heat to medium or medium high, depending on the strength of your stove, and add the orzo. Cook, stirring occasionally, until it just starts to brown and smell toasty.
Add salt and pepper to taste, and then deglaze with Vermouth (or use chicken stock or water if you're avoiding alcohol). Add a bit of chicken stock at a time, stirring and letting the orzo absorb it. Do this a few more times. If you run out of stock, you can use more; I just finish with water, using the can as a vessel.
Once the orzo stops absorbing the liquid quickly, add more stock or water until it just covers the pasta. Lower the heat, cover, and simmer, stirring every few minutes to avoid sticking, adding more liquid if necessary.
Once the orzo is cooked to your liking, add the ham, peas, and a good splash of cream. A little goes a long way here, but add more if you're feeling indulgent. Cook until heated through, and finish with grated cheese. Best enjoyed all at once out of a big bowl on the couch.