I don’t know about you by this time of year, I’m exhausted – and the holidays haven’t even started yet! Maybe 2020 has been a little worse for the wear on everyone… and that’s why we are all in desperate need for a simple recipe that can be made in just one pot; one that’s not only delicious, but provides great leftovers? Enter: creamy chicken Tuscan orzo.
This dish is incredibly easy, even if you are a novice chef. It’s so simple, people will think you spent hours preparing it. In reality, this dish comes together in about 45 minutes – making it an ideal dinner for any lazy weeknight.
It’s like having a professional chef put right into your kitchen – except YOU are that professional chef. If you’re looking for a simple dish to dive into learning how to cook, this is a great one to start with as it covers basics like dredging chicken, making “risotto” from orzo, sauting and sauce making all in one delicious recipe.
What’s even better about this Tuscan chicken is that it makes use of end-of-summer ingredients like fresh tomatoes, basil and spinach.
I compare cooking the orzo in this dish akin to making a risotto. When you make risotto, you slowly add broth or stock and let it absorb into rice (traditionally aborio or short grain rice) until the rice reaches a creamy consistency.
The same method is used here to make the orzo. Once the orzo has been toasted and lightly sauted, we can add the broth a quarter cup at a time until the orzo is swollen and cooked completely. It may not have the same creamy quality as rice, but I think cooking orzo like risotto is truly the best method to getting softer orzo.
Another cooking technique found in this dish is dredging chicken for frying – but the secret to a perfectly cooked chicken breast in this recipe is to pound it out thin and make one breast into multiple pieces so that it cooks evenly.
I used a meat mallet to pound my chicken to be about a half inch thick and then dredged it in seasoned flour, eggs and bread crumbs before lightly frying it. When you return the chicken to the pan at the end, it will finish cooking with the sauce.
Served in a creamy vegetable sauce, this Tuscan chicken is straight up addicting. The sauce is made by slowly building up flavors from the very start. The chicken is fried in the pan first, and then without cleaning the pan, the vegetables are added and sauted – picking up all the savory goodness left behind from the chicken.
The orzo is then toasted in the skillet – further absorbing the flavors of the chicken and garlic before slowly cooking in broth until plump and tender.
Additional creaminess can be added to the skillet with the addition of freshly grated Parmesan and heavy whipping cream. The addition of these ingredients transforms the broth into a savory sauce that is thick and velvety smooth.
I grew my own tomatoes for this dish – I love having a garden right off my porch that I can harvest for the freshest ingredients. The fresher the ingredients you can find, the better your food will taste! I like to make a stop at our local farmers market on the weekends to pick up local ingredients that I can’t find in our grocery store – at least not without questionable quality or origins.
So don’t forget to grow what you can and support local when you can’t! Both are great ways of saving money and giving back to the community.
I love making dishes with fresh ingredients at their peak season. This Tuscan chicken dish is no exception. I may be ready for fall mode, but this dish lets me hang on to summer for just a little bit longer.
What are some of your favorite dishes to send out the summer? Let me know down in the comments!
One Pot Creamy Chicken Tuscan
- 2 boneless chicken breasts
- 1 cup bread crumbs
- 1 cup flour
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 4 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ cup onion chopped
- 10 cloves garlic minced
- 10 multi-color cherry tomatoes cut into halves
- 2 cups chicken broth + more as needed
- ¼ cup marsala wine
- 3 cups fresh spinach
- ¼ cup basil chopped
- ½ cup mozzarella shredded
- ½ cup Parmesan cheese shredded
- Cut the chicken breasts into quarters (4 pieces). Place the chicken breast pieces between two layers of plastic wrap and use a meat mallet or pan to pound the chicken breasts to be a quarter to half inch thin.
- Prepare three shallow bowls: one for the flour, one for the bread crumsb and one for the eggs. Whisk the eggs until frothy. Season the flour with salt and pepper. Season the bread crumbs with salt, to taste.
- Dredge the pieces of chicken by first dropping them into the flour until coated, then coat in eggs and let the excess drip off. Then pop the chicken into the bread crumbs and coat evenly. For a thicker breading, dredge the chicken in the egg again and then back into the bread crumbs, as desired. Set aside breaded pieces on a plate.
- In a large skillet over medium high heat, add two tabespoons of olive oil. When the oil is shimmery hot, add the chicken. Fry for 2-3 minutes on each side, until the breading is golden and the chicken is cooked through (to at least 150 F). Remove the chicken from the pot and set aside on a clean plate.
- Without cleaning the skillet, add the remaining two tablespoons of olive oil. Toss in the onion and saute for 8-10 minutes, until the onion is tender and beginning to brown. Then add the garlic and saute for another 2-3 minutes until fragrant.
- Add the halved tomatoes and cook down for another 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally until the tomatoes have released their moisture.
- Deglaze the skillet with a splash of marsala wine. The wine should fizzle away – scrape the bottom of the skillet to scrape up any browned bits. Then add the orzo.
- Toast the orzo in the skillet for 3-4 minutes until just starting to brown. Then add the chicken broth, a quarter cup at a time. Wait between each addition of chicken broth until the broth is fully absorbed into the orzo. If after two cups of broth the orzo is still al dente, add more broth or water as needed. There should be a little bit of excess liquid.
- Stir in the heavy cream, mozzrella, Parmesan and spinach. Stir until the spinach is wilted the cheese has melted in to the sauce. Simmer 2-3 minutes to thicken. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
- Return the chicken to the skillet and simmer for about 5 minutes to return the chicken to temp (about 160-165 F). Remove from the heat to rest for 5-10 minutes (optional) – the sauce will thicken as it stands.
- Top the dish with fresh basil as desired. Serve hot and enjoy!