I love it when I learn a new trick. Whether it be a nifty new gardening technique or an incredibly brilliant cooking maneuver, I get behind it and then wish I had thought of it first.
I’m always trying to find ways to save time and juggle all of the aspects of everyday life. So when these little gifts of brilliance sneak into my life, I feel it is my duty to share them with the world…well, perhaps I shouldn’t be so large in my scope. At the time of this post I only have 13 registered “followers” for my blog, and I have no idea how many people are actually visiting or reading my site. Nevertheless, I will share what I believe to be the most impressive of all recent cooking maneuvers I have learned. It has to do with pasta, and it is supreme in its greatness. Top of the heap, people!
Your ingredients: Gruyere cheese, orzo, chicken stock, onion, butter, garlic, chives, salt, and pepper.
Melt 4 tablespoons of butter in a skillet (that has a fitted lid), and add chopped onion. I tend to chop my onions somewhat fine, because one of my kids is visually averse to onions in certain foods (but loves salsa, go figure.) Cook onions until they become translucent but do not let them brown.
Meanwhile, in a separate sauce pan begin to heat chicken stock. You do not want it to evaporate, so bring it up just to boiling.
While the onions and chicken stock are doing their thing, mince some garlic and add it to the onions. Cook about 2 minutes, making sure it doesn’t brown.
Add in the orzo. Two cups of it.
Toss the orzo with the butter, onions and garlic making sure to evenly combine and coat it.
Bring the steamy stock over and pour it into your skillet.
Mix together, and bring it up to a boil. That won’t take long because you’re incorporating hot ingredients together.
Cover the skillet and don’t peek. Turn off the heat. You heard me. Turn it off. Set your timer for 25 minutes if you must. Or you can leave the house and take your son to basketball practice like I did.
When your 25 minutes is up or when you return home, unveil your masterpiece. Notice there is no liquid left in the bottom of your pan? (If there is a little and sometimes there can be, just crank the heat up and leave the lid off. It will evaporate fairly quick.) I usually heat the pan up over a low flame, especially if I’ve been away longer than 25 minutes.
Aaahhh Gruyere…the Queen of Swiss cheese. Slice the rind off from one end and discard or save it to stick in your future soup pot.
Grate the cheese and measure about half of a cup. Gruyere is delicious with a wonderful nutty flavor. I wouldn’t substitute on the cheese, but if Gruyere is really not your thing, I’m sure a white cheddar would be delicious. Or Parmesan.
Add in the cheese. I used the full half cup amount and then threw in the remaining cheese that was left on the board in the photo above. No need to waste it and sometimes I think it just needs more.
Chop some fresh chives, and I’ve used green onion tops when I don’t have chives. I’ve also used parsley when I don’t have either of those. Sprinkle over the top of the orzo before serving.
Every now and then you get those little stringy, cheesy bites which makes this doubly wonderful!
I serve it right out of the skillet. It helps to keep it warm and it just feels like it should be served that way. But don’t let its dressed down appearance fool you into thinking it wouldn’t be able to hold its own at a fancy table.
Look at this orzo all dressed up and allowed to sit at the grown-up’s table.
Here’s what I served the with the orzo. Simply seasoned, grilled chicken breasts and my favorite way to prepare zucchini. I developed this method when I had huge zucchini that over-grew in my veggie garden. Slice the zucchini, put it into a zipper bag, pour in a little extra-virgin olive oil, squeeze a couple cloves of garlic through a press, salt, pepper and chopped fresh lemon thyme. Seal the bag and mush everything around and plop onto the grill. Easy peasy.
Busy moms/women/people of the world unite! You can make a weeknight dinner like this without having to resort to boxed meals and take out. With the orzo taking care of itself inside, you can sit down outside (weather permitting), put up your feet and check the barbecue in about 7 minutes. Put the zucchini on when you flip the chicken; it only needs about 7 minutes to cook. Of course, all of this needs to be done with a glass of wine in hand. You deserve it!
I think this recipe was created for busy, multi-tasking home cooks. I urge you not to make any substitutions for the Gruyere cheese.
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup onion, chopped
- 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
- 2-1/2 cups chicken stock
- 2 cups orzo pasta, uncooked
- 1/2 cup Gruyere cheese, shredded
- 2 tablespoons fresh chives, chopped
- salt and pepper to taste
- Melt butter in a large, heavy skillet over medium-low heat.
- Add onion and cook until soft but not browned, about 6 minutes.
- Add garlic and cook 2 minutes more.
- Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, heat chicken stock just until it begins to boil.
- Add orzo to onion and garlic in skillet.
- Stir in hot chicken stock, bring to a boil, cover and remove from heat.
- Let stand, without removing cover, until all liquid is absorbed, about 25 minutes.
- Stir in cheese until melted.
- Add chives and season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.
This recipe is from Simply Classic, a cookbook from The Junior League of Seattle.