Orzo with Chicken, Red Pepper, and Shiitakes
- SERVINGS: 4
With its rice-shaped orzo and creamy texture, this pasta may remind you of risotto—but it's easier to make, since you don't have to stir and stir and stir.
- 5 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 1/3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 4 in all)
- Fresh-ground black pepper
- 1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1/4 pound shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, caps cut into 1/4-inch slices
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 pound orzo
- 1/4 pound mild goat cheese, such as Montrachet
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- In a large nonstick frying pan, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over moderate heat. Season the chicken with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper. Put the chicken in the pan and cook for 5 minutes. Turn and cook until just done, about 5 minutes longer. Remove. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, cut the breasts crosswise into 1/4-inch slices.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in the same pan over moderately high heat. Put in the bell pepper, shiitakes, thyme, and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms are golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds longer. Remove from the heat.
- In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the orzo until just done, about 12 minutes. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water; drain the orzo.
- In the frying pan, combine the reserved pasta water with the remaining 2 tablespoons oil, the goat cheese, cream, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Bring almost to a simmer over moderate heat, stirring, until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the orzo, chicken, and 3 tablespoons of the parsley and stir to combine. Serve topped with the remaining 1 tablespoon parsley.
Sauvignon-blanc-based wines go particularly well with goat cheese, and a piquant Sancerre, with its grassy currant and gooseberry fruit, will make this dish sing.