Friday, October 8, 2010

Dinner "disaster"

I'm not flawless in the kitchen, but we rarely waste food or have to eat my mistakes. I can usually save whatever I've flubbed. One recent weeknight dinner is a good example. I was making Chicken Balsamico with hot orzo, a recipe I learned at this fall's Taste of Home Cooking School.

I'm sure I heard the culinary expert say to cook 1 cup of orzo in 1 can of chicken broth. Maybe she said a half cup of the rice-shaped pasta? Maybe I was supposed to put a lid on it? Reduce the heat? Remove it from the heat? Stir frequently? Maybe I was supposed to add a can of water to the chicken broth before boiling?

Whatever I did wrong left me with undercooked orzo that stuck to the bottom of the pan. Hating to waste food, I stirred in water -- about a cup -- hoping to deglaze the pan and get the orzo al dente. It worked and the water either cooked off or was completely absorbed. Disaster averted. Dinner was served.

Dinner was all right. It wasn't bad, but I wasn't left craving it either. The husband liked it and the 7-year-old not only cleaned her plate but tried olives and feta cheese for the first time and declared she likes both. Can't beat that, right?

Maybe I should've checked the cooking instructions on the orzo bag. After all, I heard 1 cup-1 can from the same woman who said it's perfectly fine to use jarred minced garlic. (No. No, it's not.)

Here's the recipe with better instructions for cooking the orzo:

1 tablespoon olive oil
4 skinless boneless chicken breast halves
1 clove garlic, minced
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3/4 cup water
1 can Campbell's Condensed Cream of Chicken Soup
1 cup diced plum tomatoes or 1/2 cup thinkly sliced sun-dried tomatoes
1/2 cup sliced pitted kalamata olives
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves, crushed
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
Hot cooked orzo pasta

Heat the oil in a 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook for 10 minutes or until well browned on both sides. Remove the chicken from the skillet.
Stir the garlic and vinegar into the water in a measuring cup and slowly add it to the skillet. Cook and stir for 1 minute.
Stir in the soup, tomatoes, olives and oregano and heat to a boil.
Return the chicken to the skillet. Reduce the heat to low. Cook for 5 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
Sprinkle with the cheese. Serve the chicken and sauce with hot cooked orzo.

Hot cooked orzo
I would start with 1 can of chicken broth and add half a can of water. Bring it to a boil and stir in 1 cup of orzo. Maybe reduce the heat. I would watch it closely and stir occasionally. If you have better ideas, leave them in the comments.

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