Juicy, cast-iron-skillet-seared chicken breasts, with rice shaped pasta (orzo), in a super rich and creamy garlic and yellow tomato pan sauce.
This is one of my favorite dinners to make. Not only is it a full, one skillet family meal that's done in about 40 minutes, but it's insanely delicious.
What's in it?
The recipe only calls for a few ingredients, and nothing fussy. All you need is:
- 4 Chicken breasts
- Yellow tomatoes, or heirloom yellow and orange of any variety
- Chicken stock
- Garlic cloves
- Heavy cream
- Basil leaves for garnish (optional)
That's it! Easy, right?
I included a link on orzo above, in case you aren't familiar with what orzo actually is. It's just a rice shaped pasta, it's not actually rice though. You can buy it at the store, or make it homemade. Here's a super easy tutorial on how to make your own using just a pair of scissors!
Feel free to use Kristen's pasta recipe that she includes, or my recipe for easy, Homemade Pasta Dough.
About those tomatoes
Yellow and orange tomatoes are often heirloom variety, and they have a mild and sweeter flavor. You can use a combination of any heirloom tomatoes you like, or small or large sized tomatoes. In this pan, I chose the following combination:
- Lemon Boy tomato, a large sized, round, yellow tomato
- Yellow Pear tomato, a small cherry sized, pear shaped yellow tomato
- Big Rainbow tomato, a huge, orange and pink tomato
- Black Cherry tomato, a small grape sized, dark red and purple tomato
How to make it
**Note: It is said (and often debated) that you shouldn't cook acidic foods like tomatoes or wine on cast iron, because it can cause a metallic taste. Some people will argue that while you shouldn't for long periods of time, that it's fine for short periods of time, and especially if you have a good seasoning built up. Click here for more information on cast iron cooking.
You just can't get a sear like that on a regular pan, and because the chicken is finished in the sauce, it's great to have that crispy browning already on the chicken.
Sear the chicken on both sides, salted and peppered, in a bit of olive oil or butter (I prefer butter here). Don't move the chicken while it's browning, because that can affect the crust, just let it sit and don't disturb it until it's time to flip them all over.
Once you've acquired a nice sear on both sides, remove the chicken from the pan and set aside on a plate. They'll go back in to finish cooking later.
In the same pan, still hot, add the tomatoes, shallot, and garlic and sauté.
Then, add the stock, orzo and cream, nestle the chicken breasts in to finish cooking through, and simmer until the orzo is tender. For a pretty touch, you can garnish with fresh basil.
More skillet dinners:
- Cherry Wine Meatballs-Beefy meatballs in a sweet and savory cherry, balsamic and wine sauce; perfect with mashed potatoes.
- Food Truck Noodles- Just like the food trucks; stir fry egg noodles, seared chicken thighs, and crisp cabbage, onion and carrots, fried in an light Asian sauce.
- Meatballs with Mushroom Sauce- Savory herb and Parmesan seasoned beef meatballs in a creamy mushroom skillet sauce.
- Cast Iron Chicken Thighs- Always juicy chicken thighs with the crispiest skin, in a rich, white wine pan sauce.
- Homemade General Tso Chicken- This is BEST, and tastes most like take-out, when made on cast iron.
Creamy Chicken Orzo Skillet
- 4 chicken breasts
- 3 tbsp butter or olive oil
- 1 large shallot minced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 2 ½ cups yellow, orange or heirloom tomatoes cut into chunks
- 2 ¼ cups chicken or vegetable stock
- 1 ½ cups orzo dry, uncooked
- 1 cup heavy cream can substitute half and half
- salt and pepper to taste
- In a heavy skillet on medium high heat, sear thawed, salt and peppered chicken breasts on both sides in a butter or olive oil until browned on both sides, don't disturb them while they sear to obtain maximum crispiness and browning. Once the chicken is seared on both sides, remove it from the pan and set aside on a plate. They won't be cooked through all the way, that's o.k., they'll finish in the pan later with the orzo.
- In the same hot pan that the chicken was just removed from, add the minced shallot, garlic and tomatoes.
- Saute the shallot, garlic, and tomatoes until the garlic and shallot have softened and the tomatoes become soft, break down, and have released their juices.
- Add stock, cream, and uncooked orzo.
- Stir in the orzo, and add the seared chicken breast back to the pan; let simmer for 7-10 minutes until orzo is tender and chicken is cooked through.
- Give the orzo a light stir, and garnish with fresh basil leaves. Serve chicken on bed of orzo.
- Use a combination of yellow and orange tomatoes, or heirloom tomatoes for a very mild and subtle tomato taste that doesn't overpower the sauce.
- Don't move the chicken while it's searing for optimal crust and browning.
- Don't cook the orzo prior to adding it to the stock and skillet, it will cook in the pan.
- Chicken won't be full cooked when it's removed after searing; it will finish cooking with the orzo in the cream sauce.