Chicken, mushroom and pea "risotto"
  • 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 8 oz. mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 4 oz. (about 2/3 cup) uncooked orzo
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2-3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup cooked chicken, hot and diced (I just panfried in olive oil, seasoned simply with salt and pepper)
  • 1/4 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 1/4 cup pecorino romano or parmesan reggiano
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh basil (or any herb you like--I also really like this with rosemary)
  1. Heat chicken broth in a sauce pan over a low flame, and keep it hot as you are working.
  2. Heat another pan over a low-medium flame. Add in olive oil and butter.
  3. When butter is melted, stir in shallot and mushrooms. Add a pinch of salt and cook until the mushrooms and shallot have sweat out their moisture, about 6 or 7 minutes.
  4. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  5. Stir in orzo, coating with the butter/oil and toasting until lightly browned, a couple minutes.
  6. Increase flame to medium or medium-high. Add wine and reduce by half.
  7. Stir in 1 or 2 ladles of chicken broth and allow orzo to absorb the liquid. As the orzo absorbs the liquid, keep adding broth by the ladle, stirring frequently. Add broth until orzo is cooked al dente (there should still be some liquid in the pan; I ended up using right around 2 cups). Season to taste.
  8. Stir in chicken and peas. Remove from heat and stir in basil and cheese.
I love orzo. My love affair with orzo started decades ago when my grandmas would cook a dish called arni youvetsi--lamb roasted in the oven with orzo. I mean, what is not to like about a pasta that is shaped like a rice and therefore, as versatile as both pasta and rice?! In this recipe, the orzo basically replaces the arborrio rice in a risotto and everything else remains the same. Like risotto, my mock version has a million different variations based largely on what I have on hand and/or want to get rid of.