Creamy Greek chicken

It is just starting to feel like Winter here. Coats are now mandatory when we go outside and we no longer question, “Do we really need the heat on today?”. Cold weather, mostly grey skies and early sunsets make us crave some comfort food at the end of the workday.

This is a great recipe for young children to help out with, because once you get past the ingredient prep, it is mainly variations of pouring. Like many of my recipes, this one has its origins in a magazine clipping from years ago. I’ve fiddled with the ingredients to make it ours and you can, too.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup / 180 mL water
  • 5 cups / 1175 mL  chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 lbs. / 681 grams chicken breast or tenderloin, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 lb. /454 grams orzo (uncooked)
  • 1-2 palmfuls of dill weed, to taste
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 lb. / 227 grams of crumbled feta cheese
  • 2 cups / 470 mL of Parmesan cheese, grated or shredded
  • Black olives, sliced, to taste (optional topping/garnish)

Preparation

Pre-heat your oven to 400°F /200° C /Gas mark 6.

Combine your chicken stock and water…

…place them into a large pot and bring them to a slow boil. If the pot boils before you need this ingredient, later in the recipe, just lower the temperature and keep the liquid simmering on the heat.

Gather the rest of your ingredients together so we can use then in quick succession to layer our casserole.

Using a large baking dish (I’m using a 13 inch x 9 inch glass baking dish), pour all of the orzo (uncooked) into the dish.

Next layer in dill, sprinkling it somewhat evenly across the dish. It doesn’t need to be perfect, because the stock is going to move everything around when we add it in a few steps.

Side Note: You can use whatever quantity of dill you are comfortable with for this recipe. The original recipe calls for 2 palmfuls, but we found that was too much dill for us. So, I use 1 palmful, then let everyone add more dill as a garnish if they  prefer more. Here’s what 1 palmful looks like for my measurement:

Next, layer in the lemon zest and the lemon juice. Again, spread it around, but don’t worry if it is not completely even.

Then, layer in the crumbled feta cheese…

…and follow it with the layer of raw chicken pieces.

Now comes the stock that has been gently boiling, simmering on the stove. Carefully, slowly pour the entire pot of stock into the baking dish.

When you’re done, the  dish will look like this…

…and it’s ready for the oven. Bake it for 40 minutes, without any foil or cover on the dish.

When it’s done, you need to add one more layer…of cheese! Add the Parmesan cheese (I’m using 1 1/2 cups of shredded cheese and 1/2 cup of grated cheese, because it’s what I had on hand.)

After you layer the cheese, let the dish sit for 5 minutes to allow the cheese to melt into the hot orzo. After 5 minutes, it’s time to garnish and serve:

We love the creaminess of this recipe, the savory of the dill chicken and the unexpected taste of lemon. We serve this with a simple green salad, using what ever we have in the fridge, for a simple but satisfying supper.

Other Tips

One of the great ways to make this dish your own is to play around with the olives and dill. I have made versions of this with more olives baked inside, but we thought the olives stole  away the nice bite of the lemon. Similarly, we have played with the dill quantities over the years, but now leave it the extra dill as an optional garnish/topping for each individual to choose.

This recipe also makes a great batch of freezer feasts (you can read more about those right here). After Mr. CARO and I ate dinner, we had enough food left over to make up 8 Freezer Feast to enjoy for lunch or dinner later. I love a recipe that reheats for yummy leftovers later and this one does not disappoint.

Do you have a favorite casserole that you love to make in the dark days of Winter? Feel free to leave a comment or a link to share your recipe!

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Posted on January 10, 2012, in Food, Recipes. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. This looks like a great recipe. I can’t wait to try it.

    I like a nice hearty soup when it’s cold out. I have a great chicken noodle recipe with big, fat noodles, but I’m afraid it’s a family recipe. I could give it to you, but I would be shunned in the kitchen for the rest of my life.

  2. This looks AMAZING, I am so going to try this this weekend!

  3. I have a favorite chicken soup that a Mediterranean restaurant called “Albanian Wedding Soup”. I’ve never been able to find any information on its origins, but the Albanian chef kindly told me to make a standard chicken soup but add four extra ingredients to taste: full fat yogurt, (lowfat will curdle) lemon juice, oregano, and mint. Amazing and surprising flavor mix. I’ve used just the spices and lemon in various chicken dishes for a change of pace, I’d like to try the that blend with your casserole recipe. Thanks for sharing!

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