There are only three casseroles with a permanent place in my recipe binder and this is one. Growing up in a big family in small town Mississippi, I ate lots of casseroles and can’t, at the moment, remember one that I didn’t like. So it was surprising to me that all of my children had very anti-casserole attitudes when they were young.
If I was in the mood for a “one pot meal”, I was always careful to rename it. A simple turkey/rice combo could be advertised as Roast Turkey with Rice Pilaf and the classic chicken noodle casserole had to be called Baked Chicken with Pasta. Sometimes this worked…and sometimes it didn’t.
But this recipe was the exception. Baked Chicken with Orzo was always a bit hit, I believe, because of the extra-large pieces of chicken breast that become melt in your mouth tender in the silky buttered tomato sauce. Recipe adapted from Casseroles, Classic to Contempory by Nina Graybill and Maxine Rapoport.
Baked Chicken with Orzo
- 28oz chopped tomatoes with their juice (I recommend San Marzano diced tomatoes in a box)
- 1/2 tablespoon dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 6 Medium boneless and skinless chicken breast halved (cut in half crosswise)
- salt and pepper
- 8oz orzo
- 2 cups reduced sodium chicken broth (heated to a simmer)
||Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium sauce pan, bring the tomatoes, basil, oregano and butter to a simmer. Cook uncovered, about 20 minutes, until sauce has reduced and thickened somewhat. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large ovenproof casserole or dutch oven. Season the chicken lightly with salt and pepper and brown it on both sides, in batches. When finished, return all of the chicken to the pot and pour the tomato sauce mixture over it. Cover and bake in the oven for 30 minutes. |
|| Add orzo and 1 1/2 cups of the hot broth to the casserole and mix gently. Cover and return to oven for 30 more minutes. Check after about 20 minutes and if the mixture is beginning to look dry, add the additional 1/2 cup hot broth. |
||Check for seasonings and add salt and pepper if needed. Serve with fresh basil or parsley. |