Orzo Risotto with Chicken & Spring Vegetables
3 cups Chicken Stock
1/2 bunches Asparagus, Tough Ends Trimmed Off, Then Cut Into 1-inch Pieces
2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Divided
6 whole Chicken Thighs, Trimmed Of Any Excess Fat And Cut Into Small Chunks
1 pinch Coarse Salt And Freshly Ground Pepper
1/2 whole Medium Yellow Onion, Finely Diced
3 cloves Garlic, Minced
1 cup Orzo
¼ cups Vermouth Or Dry White Wine
1/2 whole Red Bell Pepper, Stem And Seeds Removed, Then Diced
3 whole Scallions, Sliced Into 1-inch Pieces
1 Tablespoon Butter Or Olive Oil
1/2 cups Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese
1 whole Lemon, Zested And Juiced, Divided
Bring the chicken stock to a light simmer in a small sauce pan. Add the asparagus and cook until crisp-tender, 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the asparagus into an ice bath, which will stop the cooking. Keep the pot of stock simmering.
Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a medium skillet over medium-high. Add the chicken, toss in a pinch of salt and pepper and cook until browned on all sides and cooked through, 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
Add the other tablespoon of oil to the skillet. Add the onion and garlic, saute 3 minutes. Add the orzo and “toast” it for about a minute. Add the vermouth or wine and cook until mostly absorbed, 2 minutes.
At this point you’ll ladle the broth into the orzo, one ladle at a time, until the orzo has absorbed the liquid and has become nice and creamy. And dreamy. Make sure that the orzo absorbs the prior ladle of broth before adding more.
Once you’ve added all of the broth, add the asparagus, red bell pepper and scallions to the orzo. Toss to combine. Add the chicken back to the mixture. Take off the heat and add the butter (or oil) and cheese. Add about a tablespoon of lemon zest to the dish, along with a few good squeezes of lemon juice. Toss to combine. Taste it. Salt it good.
Serve risotto garnished with more lemon and parmesan cheese!
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