Chicken with Orzo, Asparagus and Parmesan
I decided to be cheap last time I bought parmesan. Bad idea. This dish still tasted good with my sub-par parmesan, but I learned my lesson. Next time I’m getting the good stuff. The one they sell at Whole Foods isn’t too expensive as far as parmesans go, and it tastes way better than the cheaper grocery store stuff.
This is a variation on the Chicken with Israeli Couscous, Spinach and Feta dish that I love so much (both are from America’s Test Kitchen’s Cooking for Two: 2009).
¼ cup flour
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
salt and pepper
3 Tbsp olive oil
¾ cup orzo (a rice-shaped pasta), or Israeli couscous
1 shallot, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced (about 3 tsp)
½ tsp lemon zest
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp fresh thyme
1 ¾ cups low-sodium chicken broth
½ bunch asparagus, trimmed and cut in 1-inch pieces
½ cup grated parmesan
Pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Season with salt and pepper and dredge in flour. Heat 1 Tbsp oil in a 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Cook chicken on one side until well-browned (6 to 8 min.). Flip chicken over, reduce heat to medium and cook 6 to 8 min. longer. Transfer to a plate, tent with foil and put it in a warm (200 degree F) oven. (If the chicken is not quite cooked by the time it is well-browned, I just put it in the oven anyway and it finished cooking in there. When I try to get it to 160 degrees on the stove it ends up overcooked. )
Use tongs to wipe out the skillet with paper towels. Add 1 Tbsp oil and the orzo. Toast over medium heat until light golden. Stir in the shallot, 2 tsp garlic, ¼ tsp lemon zest, and 1/2 tsp thyme. When fragrant, add the broth and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook 4 minutes, stirring often. Add the asparagus, cover, and cook another 4-6 minutes or so until the asparagus and orzo are cooked.
Mix 1 Tbsp lemon juice and the remaining 1 Tbsp oil, 1 tsp garlic, ¼ tsp lemon zest, and ½ tsp thyme together in a small bowl.
Take the orzo off the heat, stir in 1 Tbsp lemon juice and the parmesan cheese. Divide onto plates, top with the chicken, and drizzle with the olive oil mixture.