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Chicken in a Pot with Orzo


Chef notes

I’ve been tinkering with a recipe for old-fashioned chicken in a pot for years, but they all come out just tasting like chicken soup. Nigella Lawson’s wonderful cookbook “Cook, Eat, Repeat” inspired me to brown the chicken first, which adds lots of flavor, and then add orzo to thicken the broth.


Homemade Chicken Stock (makes 6 quarts)
  • 3 (5-pound) roasting chickens
  • 3 large yellow onions, unpeeled and quartered
  • 6 carrots, unpeeled and halved
  • 4 celery stalks with leaves, cut into thirds
  • 4 parsnips, unpeeled and halved
  • 20 sprigs fresh parsley
  • 15 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 20 sprigs fresh dill
  • 1 head garlic, unpeeled and cut in half crosswise
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns
Chicken and Orzo
  • good olive oil
  • 1 (3½ to 4-pound) whole chicken
  • 2 cups (3/4-inch diced) scrubbed carrots (10 ounces)
  • 2 cups (3/4-inch) diced celery (4 ribs)
  • 2 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts (3 leeks)
  • 2 cups chopped fennel, stalks and core removed (1 large bulb)
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic (2 cloves)
  • 4 cups simmering chicken stock, preferably homemade (recipe above)
  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 8 sprigs fresh parsley
  • 10 sprigs fresh dill, plus extra for serving
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup orzo


For the homemade chicken stock:

Place the chickens, onions, carrots, celery, parsnips, parsley, thyme, dill, garlic, salt and peppercorns in a 16- to 20-quart stockpot. Add 7 quarts of water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer uncovered for 4 hours. Allow the stock to cool for 30 minutes. Strain the contents of the pot through a colander into a large bowl and discard the solids. Pack the stock in containers and refrigerate for up to a few days or freeze for up to 6months. Please include serving suggestions or instructions where applicable.

For the chicken and orzo:


Preheat the oven to 350 F.


Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium (11-inch) Dutch oven over medium to medium-high heat. Dry the chicken all over, place it in the pot, breast side down, and sear it for 5 to 7 minutes without moving, until the skin is nicely browned. Turn the chicken breast side up and sear for another 4 to 5 minutes, until browned on the bottom. Transfer the chicken to a plate.


Add the carrots, celery, leeks and fennel to the pot and sauté for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables start to brown. Add the garlic and cook for one minute.


Return the chicken to the pot, breast side up, spreading the vegetables around the chicken. Add the chicken stock, saffron and enough water to cover the chicken with just an inch of the breastbone exposed. Tie the thyme, parsley and dill together in a bundle with kitchen string and add to the pot along with 1½ tablespoons salt and 1½ teaspoons pepper. Bring to a boil, cover and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, checking to be sure the liquid is simmering.


Discard the herb bundle, stir the orzo into the broth, cover and allow to sit off the heat for 20 to 25 minutes, until the orzo is tender. Using forks to separate the chicken into quarters, carefully pull the breast meat away from the bones (I leave the bones in the leg portion) and reheat, if necessary. Spoon some of the chicken, broth and pasta into large shallow bowls, and serve hot sprinkled generously with minced dill and salt.


If dish contains multiple elements (for example, a main and a side), recipe ingredients and steps for each component should be listed separately.

Reprinted with permission from "Go-To Dinners." Copyright © 2022 by Ina Garten. Photographs copyright © 2022 by Quentin Bacon. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Random House.