chicken orzo

Very few times have we been served food in our own home by friends who brought the already prepared stuff with them. In fact only one occasion even comes to mind, so we were a bit skeptical when the event unfolded---at least bob was, he is the skeptical one. Of course a dish with orzo in it already strikes the right chord with us given its undeserved rarely appreciated status here in the US food scene, but these were friends whose kitchen skills we did not know and yet they had suggested this bold strategy of dining together under our roof with very little notice with us being the guests so to speak. The details are a bit foggy in bob's mind, event details were never his strong point, but the outcome was clear. Here was a dish to be repeated on our own, simple yet tasty, and which would later serve as a reminder of a dear couple who would have to leave us behind because of the vagaries of academic life.

This is a pressure cooker recipe and we love our pressure cooker, which bob bought at a Philly home show event as a single cook before joining ani in matrimony and shared kitchen adventures. The orzo we always buy is whole wheat to fool ourselves into thinking it is healthier, but with all the gluten hysteria of the new century, if justified, maybe the joke really is on us after all. This dish falls under the category of simple straightforward comfort food. Thanks for sharing, Shelley!


6 T extra virgin olive oil
1 c orzo pasta (whole wheat is better?)
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into chunks
3 cloves minced garlic
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 2/3 c water
1 T tomato paste
2 bay leaves
salt (about 1 t, or to taste)
freshly ground black pepper (1/8 t, or to taste)
chopped fresh parsley for garnish


  1. Heat 2 T olive oil in the pressure cooker over medium high heat. Add and saute the orzo for about 4--5 minutes, stirring frequently, till it becomes light golden brown. Remove and set aside in a small bowl.
  2. Heat the remaining 4 T oil over high heat. Add the chicken, garlic and onion and saute over high heat 6--8 minutes until the chicken starts to brown, stirring frequently so the onion does not brown. Add the water, tomato paste, salt and pepper and stir well
  3. Lock the lid in place and bring to high pressure, then adjust the heat to stabilize the pressure and cook 6 minutes. Remove from heat and lower the pressure with fast lid release. Taste and adjust for salt and pepper.
  4. Stir in the browned orzo. Lock the lid and bring to high pressure again, adjusting to stabilize the heat and cook 4 minutes. Remove from heat and lower the pressure with fast lid release.
  5. If orzo is not tender, simmer uncovered for 2--3 minutes.
  6. Garnish with fresh parsley and serve.


  1. From the Ultimate Pressure Cooker Cookbook by Tom LaCalamita.
  2. Illustrations available.
chickenorzo.htm: 30-dec-2014 [what, ME cook? © 1984 dr bob enterprises]