A truly traditional, hearty and comforting meal!! This One Pan Greek Chicken with Risoni (Orzo) or Giouvetsi as we call it, comes straight from my family’s recipe archives. It’s tender, tasty and unbelievably easy to make.
I have my wonderful Aunt Soula to thank for this recipe. Taught by my great-grandmother, she makes the best Giouvetsi in the family. Her recipe remains true to the traditional flavours and methods. Partly cooked on the stove top and then finished off in the oven to get that nice crust around the edges of the pan.
This dish can be made with either beef or chicken. For a quick fuss free recipe that can be easily made midweek, l’m using chicken.
This centuries old dish would have been prepared in a clay pot and cooked in the village baker’s oven. Back then not everyone had an oven at home. Clay pots are great if you have one, otherwise a skillet/pan will do just nicely. I won’t be cooking it at the village bakery either!!
There are a number of names given to the small rice shaped pasta used in this dish. Known as risoni, orzo or kritharaki to the Greeks.
In Australia, l’ve seen 2 types in supermarkets: a thicker risoni and a more slender version (see photo). There’s probably little difference, but just so you know, l use the thicker style risoni.
The red sauce in this recipe is made by using tomato paste. Tomato paste is to Greeks what passata (tomato puree) is to Italians.
The intense flavour of tomato paste is what l love (not to mention it’s easier to carry than large jars of passata from the supermarket). Even so, l love passata and use it in many of my recipes: just not this one!
As l have kept close to a traditional family recipe, this was never going to be a glamorous looking dish. Giouvetsi just isn’t like that!! But what it is, is a heartwarming, comforting meal that’s come just in time for winter!!
Preparation Time: 15 mins Cooking Time: 15 minutes Servings: 4 – 5
The first part of this recipe happens on the stove top and it happens fairly quickly. To keep things flowing smoothly, have your hot water in a jug ready to go.
- 500 g / 1 lb boneless chicken thigh fillets
- 1 1/2 cups risoni/orzo
- 1 large onion, roughly chopped
- 4 – 5 cloves garlic, grated
- 40 g / 1.5 oz butter (Note 1)
- 4 tbsp tomato paste
- 3 1/4 cups of very hot water
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon (Note 2)
- 2 tsp salt & 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1 fresh bay leaf (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 180 C / 350 F.
- Chop the chicken into chunky pieces.
- Melt the butter in the pan. I use a 28 cm / 11 inch skillet. Add the chopped onion and saute over medium heat until golden and very soft (5 mins).
- Turn the heat up to medium-high. Push the chopped onion towards the edges of the pan. Add the chicken and grated garlic. Saute the chicken until you cannot see any raw bits. The chicken should turn a little golden on the edges (5 mins).
- Turn the heat down to moderate. Add the tomato paste and stir. Make sure all the chicken pieces are coated. Keep stirring until the ‘rawness’ has been cooked out of the tomato paste (about 2 mins).
- Add the risoni and stir until it is also coated with the tomato paste. Saute for 1 minute.
- Add the hot water, cinnamon, bay leaf, salt and pepper. Turn off the heat. Stir. Transfer to the oven.
- Place the pan so that it sits on the top third of your oven. Bake for 15 mins. Check that risoni/orzo is cooked. If necessary return to the oven for another minute or two and check again. Remove from the oven. Give it a good stir (Note 3).
- Serve with a sprinkling of grated parmesan or Greek Kefalotyri.
- We use butter because it adds so much flavour to the sauce. Alternatively, you could use 2 tbsp of olive oil.
- Cinnamon gives the Giouvetsi a slightly smoky edge. Even though just a ¼ tsp is all that l use, it just isn’t the same without it!!
- It’s very easy to overcook risoni, so make sure you have your timer on!!! The risoni will continue to absorb some of the sauce/liquid after it comes out of the oven.