One-pot chicken with orzo, porcini and cinnamon

If you are in the mood for an interesting twist on a roast chicken, look no further. This is a simple and hearty dish with wonderful aromatic spices. Here, pre-frying the chicken makes a big difference to the texture and flavor. Adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi.

Ingredients

  • 3-4 dried cascabel chillies
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 30 g dried porcini
  • 1 whole chicken (1.5 kg)
  • 2 lemons, 1 halved and the other cut into 4 wedges
  • 60 ml olive oil
  • 500 g celery (about 6-8 sticks), cut on a bias into 4 cm chunks
  • 2 onions, each cut into 8 wedges
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 8 thyme sprigs
  • 320 g orzo
  • 1-2 T flat-leaf parsley leaves, roughly chopped
  • Salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Heat the oven to 400 F.
  2. Put the chillies and cinnamon in a small frying pan on a medium-high heat, and cook for about eight minutes, or until fragrant and toasted. (Note: if your chillies are very dry, you will want to fry them for a much shorter time. They are done when they start to blister from the heat. There is a fine line between cooked and burned, so watch them closely.)
  3. Transfer chillies and cinnamon to a large bowl with the porcini mushrooms and 1.1 litres boiling water. Cover with a plate and leave to soak for at least 15 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, pat the chicken dry and sprinkle with 1/2 t salt and a good grind of black pepper.
  5. Stuff the chicken cavity with one lemon half.
  6. Put a large ovenproof dutch oven or cast-iron pot (note: these must have lids!) on medium-high heat. When warm, add 2 T oil.
  7. When the oil is hot, add the chicken and cook on all sides until browned, about 7 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate.
  8. Add the remaining 2 T oil to the pot, along with celery and onion, and cook for 6-10 minutes, until lightly golden.
  9. Add the garlic and thyme and cook for another minute, until fragrant.
  10. Return the chicken to the pan breast side up. Pour over the porcini liquid, along with all the aromatics, 2 t salt and a good grind of black pepper.
  11. Bring to a simmer, cover with a lid and transfer to the oven for 50 minutes.
  12. Remove from the oven and stir through the orzo, pushing some into the bird’s cavity.
  13. Cover again and bake for 20 minutes more, until the orzo is cooked and has absorbed most of the liquid.
  14. Turn up the oven to 450, uncover the pot, and bake for 10 minutes, or until browned on top.
  15. Remove from oven and leave to cool slightly for about 10-15 minutes.
  16. To serve, squeeze the other lemon half over the dish, sprinkle with the parsley, and serve directly from the pot, with the lemon wedges on the side.

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