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Chicken In A Pot with Lemon and Orzo

by . Featured in COOK EAT REPEAT
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Introduction

This is a dish, a family favourite, that I cooked moreorless straight after I’d got off the plane after two months on the road, to signal and celebrate that I was truly home. It’s a simple one pot dish that brings comfort and joy, and it is my pleasure to share that with you.

It’s so hard to be utterly precise and specific with this kind of cooking: if you’re feeding small children, for example, you may not want to add the chilli flakes. Similarly, you may want to use just one lemon, rather than the two I like. Your chicken may weigh more or less: the ones I get tend to vary between 1.5kg and 1.7kg / 3½lb and 3¾lbs. And although I have specified the casserole I have used, and always use, you obviously will use the one you have, which will make a difference to how quickly everything cooks, how much evaporation there will be, and so on.

Don’t let these things trouble you unduly: this is a simple recipe that brings profound pleasure.

For US cup measures, use the toggle at the top of the ingredients list.

This is a dish, a family favourite, that I cooked moreorless straight after I’d got off the plane after two months on the road, to signal and celebrate that I was truly home. It’s a simple one pot dish that brings comfort and joy, and it is my pleasure to share that with you.

It’s so hard to be utterly precise and specific with this kind of cooking: if you’re feeding small children, for example, you may not want to add the chilli flakes. Similarly, you may want to use just one lemon, rather than the two I like. Your chicken may weigh more or less: the ones I get tend to vary between 1.5kg and 1.7kg / 3½lb and 3¾lbs. And although I have specified the casserole I have used, and always use, you obviously will use the one you have, which will make a difference to how quickly everything cooks, how much evaporation there will be, and so on.

Don’t let these things trouble you unduly: this is a simple recipe that brings profound pleasure.

For US cup measures, use the toggle at the top of the ingredients list.

Ocado

(UK only)

Please note that we’ve now introduced a shopping feature with our friends at Ocado so that you can get your ingredients delivered direct to your door, if Ocado serves your area - check at ocado.com/postcode. We hope that this will make shopping for Nigella’s recipe ingredients easier. For any queries related to your Ocado shop, head to ocado.com/customercare.

Ingredients

Serves: 4-6

Metric Cups
  • 1 x 15ml tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 (approx. 1.5kg or bigger) chicken (preferably free-range and organic)
  • zest and juice of 2 unwaxed lemons
  • 3 fat cloves of garlic (peeled and minced)
  • 2 medium to large carrots (approx. 350-400g / 12-14oz total weight)
  • 2 medium to large leeks (approx. 400g / 14oz total trimmed weight)
  • 2 teaspoons Maldon sea salt flakes or 1 teaspoon fine flowing salt
  • ½ teaspoon chilli flakes
  • 2 teaspoons dried tarragon
  • 300 grams orzo pasta
  • 1 bunch flatleaf parsley to give 6 tablespoons finely chopped leaves, plus more to serve
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 (approx. 3½lb or bigger) chicken (preferably free-range and organic)
  • zest and juice of 2 unwaxed lemons
  • 3 fat cloves of garlic (peeled and minced)
  • 2 medium to large carrots (approx. 350-400g / 12-14oz total weight)
  • 2 medium to large leeks (approx. 400g / 14oz total trimmed weight)
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt or 1 teaspoon fine flowing salt
  • ½ teaspoon chile flakes
  • 2 teaspoons dried tarragon
  • 1¾ cups orzo pasta
  • 1 bunch Italian parsley to give 6 tablespoons finely chopped leaves, plus more to serve

Please note that nigella.com is not able to accept responsibility for any substitutions that Ocado may need to make as a result of stock availability or otherwise. For any queries, head to ocado.com/customercare.

Feel free to use the “swap” feature and adjust brands and quantities as needed.

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C Fan/350°F. Untruss the chicken, if it comes trussed, and remove all the string. Prepare the vegetables: peel and cut the carrots into batons; cut the trimmed leeks into smallish rounds, approx. 1.5-2.5cm / ¾-1 inch.
  2. Heat the oil in a large heavy-based casserole/ Dutch oven with a tightly fitting lid. I use an enamelled cast iron oval casserole 29cm long, in which the chicken fits neatly, leaving just a small space all around it to fit the vegetables later. Place the chicken in the hot oil breast side down to colour the skin; I do this over high heat for about 3 minutes, until the skin is richly golden. (If you’re not using a heavy based casserole, you will need the heat lower.) Then turn the chicken the right way up.
  3. Turn down the heat, or take the pan off the heat completely, and aiming for the space around the chicken, add the lemon zest and minced garlic (obviously some can end up on the chicken itself) and give it a quick stir into the oil as best you can.
  4. Scatter in the prepared vegetables around the chicken, followed by the salt, chilli flakes (if using) and dried tarragon.
  5. Measure 1.5 litres/6¼ cups of cold water into a measuring jug. Pour 1.25 litres / 5 cups of cold water into the chicken pot at first, and then, gradually, pour in the remaining water until the liquid comes up about two thirds of the leg of the chicken, leaving the golden breast clearly untouched by a small margin. Now add the lemon juice.
  6. Turn up the heat and bring the pot to a boil, leaving it uncovered. Poke the vegetables down with a fork if they bob up too much.
  7. Once boiling clamp on the lid and put into the preheated oven for 1 hour 15 minutes.
  8. Take the pot out of the oven and stir in the orzo, around the edges of the chicken, and then put the lid on again, and put the casserole back in the oven for another 15 minutes, by which time the orzo should be soft and swollen.
  9. Take out of the oven and remove the lid, then let it stand for 15 minutes, giving the orzo a bit of a stir to loosen any that has stuck to the bottom of the pan. The orzo will continue to soak up some of the broth as it stands.
  10. Stir in 4 tablespoons of the freshly chopped parsley, and then sprinkle over the remaining 2 tablespoons, and put more on the table to serve alongside. You could add the parsley once you’ve shredded the chicken, but it looks so wonderful in its pot, I love to bring to the table whole.
  11. To serve, put a small dish by the casserole, then strip off the meat from the chicken, removing the skin and bones to the dish. (For me, these bits are a particular treat: I live for the cartilage!) I find it easiest to do this while the chicken’s still in the pot, but it you prefer you can try and remove it to a carving board; go carefully as it’s likely to fall to pieces a bit as you do so. Stir the meat and orzo again before serving, adding more parsley as you do so, or let grateful eaters add their own as they wish. You may also want to offer parmesan to grate over: I prefer it without it, but there is a strong pro-parmesan contingent in my house.
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C Fan/350°F. Untruss the chicken, if it comes trussed, and remove all the string. Prepare the vegetables: peel and cut the carrots into batons; cut the trimmed leeks into smallish rounds, approx. 1.5-2.5cm / ¾-1 inch.
  2. Heat the oil in a large heavy-based casserole/ Dutch oven with a tightly fitting lid. I use an enamelled cast iron oval casserole 29cm long, in which the chicken fits neatly, leaving just a small space all around it to fit the vegetables later. Place the chicken in the hot oil breast side down to colour the skin; I do this over high heat for about 3 minutes, until the skin is richly golden. (If you’re not using a heavy based casserole, you will need the heat lower.) Then turn the chicken the right way up.
  3. Turn down the heat, or take the pan off the heat completely, and aiming for the space around the chicken, add the lemon zest and minced garlic (obviously some can end up on the chicken itself) and give it a quick stir into the oil as best you can.
  4. Scatter in the prepared vegetables around the chicken, followed by the salt, chile flakes (if using) and dried tarragon.
  5. Measure 1.5 litres/6¼ cups of cold water into a measuring jug. Pour 1.25 litres / 5 cups of cold water into the chicken pot at first, and then, gradually, pour in the remaining water until the liquid comes up about two thirds of the leg of the chicken, leaving the golden breast clearly untouched by a small margin. Now add the lemon juice.
  6. Turn up the heat and bring the pot to a boil, leaving it uncovered. Poke the vegetables down with a fork if they bob up too much.
  7. Once boiling clamp on the lid and put into the preheated oven for 1 hour 15 minutes.
  8. Take the pot out of the oven and stir in the orzo, around the edges of the chicken, and then put the lid on again, and put the casserole back in the oven for another 15 minutes, by which time the orzo should be soft and swollen.
  9. Take out of the oven and remove the lid, then let it stand for 15 minutes, giving the orzo a bit of a stir to loosen any that has stuck to the bottom of the pan. The orzo will continue to soak up some of the broth as it stands.
  10. Stir in 4 tablespoons of the freshly chopped parsley, and then sprinkle over the remaining 2 tablespoons, and put more on the table to serve alongside. You could add the parsley once you’ve shredded the chicken, but it looks so wonderful in its pot, I love to bring to the table whole.
  11. To serve, put a small dish by the casserole, then strip off the meat from the chicken, removing the skin and bones to the dish. (For me, these bits are a particular treat: I live for the cartilage!) I find it easiest to do this while the chicken’s still in the pot, but it you prefer you can try and remove it to a carving board; go carefully as it’s likely to fall to pieces a bit as you do so. Stir the meat and orzo again before serving, adding more parsley as you do so, or let grateful eaters add their own as they wish. You may also want to offer parmesan to grate over: I prefer it without it, but there is a strong pro-parmesan contingent in my house.

Additional Information

STORE:
Refrigerate leftovers, covered, for up to 3 days. Reheat in microwave or saucepan over medium heat, stirring and adding extra water if needed, until piping hot. Pasta will soften on reheating.

FREEZE:
Freeze leftovers in airtight container for up to 3 months. Defrost overnight in fridge. Reheat as above.

STORE:
Refrigerate leftovers, covered, for up to 3 days. Reheat in microwave or saucepan over medium heat, stirring and adding extra water if needed, until piping hot. Pasta will soften on reheating.

FREEZE:
Freeze leftovers in airtight container for up to 3 months. Defrost overnight in fridge. Reheat as above.

Tell us what you think

What 36 Others have said

  • Yummy and comforting. On the suggestion of others, I used chicken broth instead of water, and fresh tarragon rather than dried. My leeks were a little small so I added a shallot. My carrots were also small so I added a parsnip! All turned out to plan. I would highly recommend for a rainy fall evening.

    Posted by ToryL on 28th October 2022
  • I'm happy to have found your refreshing take on food. I'm a happy subscriber... You had me @ One Pot - One Whole Chicken + Lemon... This recipe is soo much more than a one pot meal!!

    Posted by MDCord on 11th October 2022
  • Making this (3rd time) tonight, the aromas coming from the kitchen are delightful! Such a wonderful tasty dish, it's Winter here in Australia and this is perfect for a chilly night.

    Posted by CarolynJF on 30th July 2022
  • I’ve made this multiple times and I absolutely love it. I use fregola instead of orzo and tonight I used fresh tarragon instead of dried and garden chives instead of parsley. When I have not had leeks I’ve substituted onions or shallots and when I haven’t had lemons I’ve added vermouth or white wine for some acid. I prefer the more assertive lemons. I’ve substituted parsnips for carrots. Perfect for a cold rainy day!

    Posted by JeanEppingNH on 19th May 2022
  • I made this last night exactly as written and the chicken was so moist and tender. Amazing. Thanks from Minnesota!

    Posted by crownzeal on 23rd January 2022
  • The chicken ends up very thoroughly cooked, but not dry because it's braising in liquid. The meat has good flavor, with the lemons being a pretty nice note. We had a huge amount of orzo at the end, it swelled more than I thought it would.

    Posted by Duke_of_Omnium on 22nd November 2021
  • This chicken was insanely delicious, falling off the bones. Mine needed more salt, and I might do chicken broth instead of just water next time. But wow - this is a major keeper!

    Posted by worldtravelgirl on 8th August 2021
  • My partner and I affectionately nicknamed this wonderful recipe Boneyard Chicken, because the chicken is so tender it completely falls apart, leaving us to fish small bones out while we are eating. And my winning solution is to wrap up the chicken in cheesecloth once the top is browned, tying the cheesecloth in a knot on the top and then placing it in the pot. Then I can easily remove and debone the chicken once cooking is complete. Love this recipe!!!

    Posted by Gerr-bear on 30th April 2021
  • I got my first vaccine dose today, and anticipated feeling under the weather afterward. Bought all the ingredients for this ahead of time, and put it together in minutes. By the time it was out of the oven and had rested, it was the perfect balm for post-jab malaise. Thank you, Nigella.

    Posted by NYClcg on 4th April 2021
  • I followed this recipe exactly and the result was outstanding. It’s just so aromatic and satisfying that I almost got a “high”. It is really meant to be eaten as Nigella suggests; bones and skin removed, small pieces of chicken mixed well with the orzo. I am now on the sofa in a haze of contentment. Thank you Nigella!

    Posted by Gratus on 30th January 2021
  • Had time to try this as my day off. Glad I did! Love orzo and the chicken was tender and succulent. The broth was beautiful. Probably put more chilli in next time but erred on the side of caution for first time.

    Posted by Searabbit on 28th January 2021
  • This was absolutely fantastic!!! Don't change it, just make it. My pan was a little small or my chicken was a little large. It doesn't matter. It works!! Taste is phenomenal.

    Posted by Jhullpa on 23rd January 2021
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