Creamy Orzo with Pancetta

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I buried this fantastic recipe along with another fantastic recipe (Gobble Gobble Turkey Meatballs) some time ago.  Creamy Orzo with Pancetta should stand alone as a recipe. I made this last night with breaded chicken tenders and fell in love again. As usual, when I find a new recipe, I make it a lot, and then not at all.  It’s been a while but I think it will make the rounds again. My son is excited to have those leftovers tonight. It’s a simple recipe that you can play with. If you love pancetta, add more. If you love onions, use two! It also doubles really well. To give the orzo some color and a toasty flavor, you brown the uncooked orzo. I had never done this before and it is a game changer. The pancetta is sold already diced. It’s usually near the deli counter.

¼ cup (or so) diced pancetta

2 tbsp. butter or olive oil

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, finely minced

1 ½ cups of orzo (uncooked)

2 ½ cups chicken broth

½ frozen  petite peas

½ grated Parmesan cheese

salt and pepper to taste

In a braiser or a shallow pot, melt the butter or heat the olive oil, under a medium heat.  Add your onion and sprinkle it with a teaspoon of kosher salt. Sauté the onions until they soften. Add the pancetta and stir. I like to cook the onions and pancetta for about 5 minutes. It may take longer. You want everything to soften.

Add uncooked orzo to pan with onions and pancetta. Stir the mixture. The orzo will “toast”. Keep stirring. It will only take about a minute for the orzo to get some color. If it starts to stick, add a little more olive oil.

Add the garlic. Stir and cook for about 30 seconds. Add the chicken stock. Stir to combine. Let it come to a boil. Put the lid on and lower the heat. Stir occasionally. You want it to simmer for 20 minutes. The orzo will absorb most of the liquid and fluff up.

Take pan off  the heat and add the parmesan. Stir. The dish gets creamy with the parmesan. The orzo may stick to the pan, but don’t worry. Add the frozen peas, and put the lid back on. Let it sit for about 10 minutes.

Take the lid off and stir. The orzo should not be sticking to the pan. Season to taste. Stir and serve! I like to serve this with a variety of chicken dishes. It makes a great lunch with some chopped cooked chicken. It heats up in the microwave like a champ!

This is simple, delicious and just a tad different from anything you’ve probably ever made. Try it. You’ll like it! Serves 4 (maybe!!)

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Cauliflower “Fried Rice”

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I am late to this dance, but at least I’m dancing. Cauliflower. Love the stuff. I never would have thought of substituting it for rice. How are people this creative? Now, you will notice it’s not rice. Trust me. It is still delicious and nutritious. You can grate it yourself. I love my box grater, but I love my knuckles more, so I buy mine frozen at Trader Joe’s. Look at the ingredients. If you don’t like sesame oil or soy sauce, or even cauliflower, don’t make this. If you like these ingredients, do try it. I like to make it on Sunday and have it for quick and tasty lunches during the week. If you have an extra protein like leftover chicken, add it in at the end. I’ve adjusted the recipe a bit because, I never want to use ½ an onion or to count out 5 scallions. What will you do with the rest of these ingredients? Rotting in the fridge is their future. I didn’t have frozen carrots and peas so I used mixed frozen veggies. Still delicious! I substituted garlic powder for garlic. Garlic sometimes can taste bitter, as can cauliflower. This adds flavor without the bitterness.

1 package frozen rice cauliflower

1 tbsp. sesame oil

1tsp.vegetable or canola oil

3 large eggs

pinch of salt

1 large onion

¾ cup frozen peas and carrots or mixed vegetables

2 tsp. garlic powder

bunch of scallions, diced

3 tbsp. soy sauce

 

Scramble the eggs, with a fork, in a bowl and set aside. Dice up your onion and place in a bowl. Measure out your frozen vegetables and put in a bowl with the diced scallions.

Heat a sauté pan over medium heat. I used a well-seasoned cast iron pan. You want your pan hot before you add the vegetable oil. If you sprinkle water over the hot pan, and the water rolls around and evaporates, the pan is hot. Pour a teaspoon of oil in the pan and cook the eggs. Stir them with a heat-proof spatula. They can be a little “wet”. Put them back into the dish. This is okay, because they will be cooked more at the end.

Add the sesame oil to the hot pan. You may need some vegetable oil too. Add the onions and let them soften for a couple of minutes. I sprinkle a pinch of salt over mine to help sweat out the water. Add the frozen vegetables, scallions and garlic powder. Stir this mixture as it heats up. Depending on what vegetables you are using this could take 5 minutes. You want everything to heat up and soften.

Raise the heat to medium high. Add the frozen cauliflower to the pan and the soy sauce. Stir frequently. You want to cook the cauliflower. The frozen cauliflower will cool off the pan, so it will take about 5-10 minutes to cook. When the cauliflower is cooked, add the eggs back in and stir. After a minute, shut off the heat and let it cool in the pan.

You should taste this mixture. I used low-salt soy sauce and found I needed to add a pinch more at the end. You may want to add more soy sauce. Whatever you want, you can add.

I love to add sweet chili sauce before I eat this. Gives it a little sweetness to the salty flavor of soy, and the slight bitterness of cauliflower. Try it. It’s sooooo delicious. Just a few drops! Happy lunching!

Here’s the original recipe which clearly is more skinny than mine!

 

Roasted Chicken Provencal on rice….that’s nice!

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Bless the New York Times Food Section. There are so many recipes that are simple and delicious. Recipes that don’t call for bizarre ingredients that you will NEVER use again. Recipes that don’t require odd pans that will collect dust from lack of use. This is one of those recipes. I start judging a recipe by the individual ingredients. Do I like the ingredient flavors on their own? This has lemon, garlic and shallots with vermouth. Yes. Yes. Yes…..and YES! Then I look at the cooking method. You put the ingredients in a pan and roast them. No browning. You can do this! Now I won’t lie; it takes about 1 ½ hours from start to devour. It takes a bit to assemble, but none of the steps are difficult.  Let’s cook.

8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs

2 tsp. kosher salt

1 tsp. ground black pepper

½ cup of all-purpose flour

3 tbsp. olive oil

2 tbsp. herbes de Provence

2 lemons, quartered

10 cloves garlic, peeled and kept whole

6 medium –size shallots, peeled and halved

2/3 cup dry vermouth or white wine

 

Step 1

Heat oven to 400 degrees. It’s important to make sure your oven is really this temperature. I always use an oven thermometer. You need this heat to crisp up the chicken skins. So, oven temperature. Check. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Put the flour in a shallow pan or bowl. Lightly dredge the chicken in the flour, on both sides. Shake off the excess flour.

Step 2

Swirl the oil in a large roasting pan, and place the floured chicken in it. I didn’t measure the oil. I eyeballed it. Season the chicken with the herbes de Provence. Arrange the lemon, garlic cloves and shallots around the chicken. Tuck them here. Tuck them there. Tuck them, tuck them everywhere. Add the vermouth to the pan. Step back. Just imagine how this will smell in a short time.

Step 3

Put the pan in the oven and roast for about 30 minutes. Baste it with the pan juices. If you find there isn’t much pan juice, add a little more vermouth or chicken stock. You want the pan juices to go half-way up the chicken. You don’t want it submerged, but immersed. The skins need to be dry to crisp up. Continue roasting for another 25-30 minutes or until the chicken is very crisp and the meat cooked through.

Step 4

Serve in this on a bed of rice with a side of salad. Eat it slowly and enjoy the mellowed, softened flavors of garlic, shallots and lemons. So easy. So delicious! Enjoy!

 

Here’s the original recipe.

Note: I’ve made it with white wine and it is preferred by some of the family. The vermouth had a strong after taste for some.