One-pot paprika chicken for busy weeknights

With some side plates of olives and feta, your kids can pick what they like to eat

One-pot paprika chicken

One-pot paprika chicken

 

When writing recipes or cooking for a family with small kids like my own, I like to give everyone options. I don’t think we need a separate menu for kids but the transition from dulled-down kid food to full-of-flavour adult food often proves too big a leap.

From their very young ages, I’ve been giving everything to my kids, from fermented foods like sauerkraut to herb-packed frittatas. They naturally will want to eat whatever I’m eating, usually just before I put it in my mouth. I offer it all up and some days there’s pandemonium as one decides she just wants plain pasta while other days they’re squabbling over who gets the last olive. 

I first came across orzo, the tiny rice-shaped pasta, on the Greek island of Hydra. There, it was served alongside slow-cooked beef stifado with tiny pearl onions. Sometimes I boil it in salted water like regular pasta, then fold through plenty of freshly chopped parsley and butter. It can be cooked like a pilaf with stock or tomatoes and will soak up all of the flavours it’s cooked in. Toasting the orzo first gives great flavour and prevents it from becoming mushy.

November is Food Month in The Irish Times. irishtimes.com/foodmonth
November is Food Month in The Irish Times. irishtimes.com/foodmonth

Usually, when I make this dish, I remove the chicken thighs and take all of the meat off the bone, return the shredded chicken to the pot and gently stir it into the mix.

Also, I serve the fancy toppings on the side. The feta and olives can be added at the table by those who want them. It makes dinner more interactive and gives a bit of control to the individual – and I don’t need to memorise a long list of ever-changing likes and dislikes.

My kids love passing things to each other and tasting things, seeing what one another is doing and often requesting things I hadn’t thought of adding, like Parmesan, a wedge of lemon, or black pepper. It gives them a chance to be creative too.

This is another fantastic recipe to add to your one-pot repertoire for busy weeknights. Serve it with a green salad or broccoli to get some greens in, or fold through a few handfuls of baby spinach. I’ve made this dish in the past with farro instead of orzo, with great results.

ONE-POT PAPRIKA CHICKEN

Serves 4-6

Ingredients
6 chicken thighs
2 tsp smoked paprika
Sea salt
Olive oil, as needed
1 red onion, chopped finely
2 cloves garlic, crushed
400g orzo 
1l chicken stock 
400g tin chopped tomatoes
1 lemon, sliced
150g olives 
4 tbsp parsley or basil chopped, crumbled feta cheese, for garnish

Method
1
Pat the chicken thighs dry then coat with paprika and salt, making sure the spices evenly cover the chicken. Set aside.

2 Toast the orzo. Place a heavy-based pan over a medium high heat. Add the orzo and toast till just lightly browned but remove before it gets too fragrant. Tip it into a bowl and set aside.

3 Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a large heavy-based pot and fry the chicken, on both sides, for about three minutes, until browned nicely. Set aside.

4 Add finely chopped onion to the pot and sauté for a few minutes before adding the garlic. Cook for about half a minute, till just fragrant then add the stock, tinned tomatoes and orzo. Mix everything well then bring to the boil.

5 Lower the heat to a medium simmer and place the chicken thighs on top of the orzo. Arrange the lemon slices over the chicken. Place the lid on and leave to cook for 15 minutes or so. Check on it after 10 minutes. You don’t want the orzo to overcook, but the chicken must be cooked through.

6 You can then scatter the dish with parsley, or basil, olives and crumbled feta. Or remove the meat from the chicken thighs and stir it through the orzo. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil. 

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