I’m so used to cooking for two in my recently emptied nest, that I almost felt like I had to re-learn how to cook for four when the girls came home last week. And because I was busy doing advance prep work for Thanksgiving, I found myself craving family dinner recipes for them that were welcome-homey and cozy, but didn’t call on an army of pots and pans that would pile up in the sink like a jenga tower. You know, the kind of recipe that you want every day of your life when you’re feeding kids. This one was the winner.
One Pot Chicken with Artichoke & Orzo
If you don’t think 4-6 chicken thighs is enough for your family, you can make as many as you need to — just brown them in batches if so.
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2-2 pounds (about 6 medium-large) chicken thighs (skin-on or skinless)
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 small onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
dash red pepper flakes
2 cups quartered artichoke hearts (frozen or canned), drained if canned
2 cups orzo
2 cups chicken stock
juice from one medium lemon (about 1/3 cup)
2-3 cups loosely packed baby spinach
1/2 cup crumbled feta (optional)
herbs such as parsley or chives (optional)
Heat the oven to 350°F.
Set a Dutch Oven or very large oven-safe pot over medium-high heat and add oil. Season the chicken thighs with salt, pepper, and oregano, and place seasoned-side down in the pot. It’s ok if it’s a little crowded, they will shrink as they cook. (But not too crowded.) Cook on one side until very well browned without touching, about 8 minutes — resist the urge to peek underneath, this is your chance to get a good, lacquered color on the chicken, you want to go longer than you think. Flip and cook on the other side, about 2 or 3 minutes. Remove to a plate, they don’t have to be cooked all the way through.
Decrease heat to medium and add onions, garlic, red pepper flakes, and more salt and pepper. Cook 2 minutes, then add artichokes and orzo, tossing until everything is shiny and coated in oil. Add the broth and lemon juice and bring to a light boil, then turn off heat. Nestle chicken on top (you want that brown skin you worked so hard for to be peeking above the liquid — the chicken should not be completely submerged).
Transfer the pot to the oven and bake uncovered for 20 minutes, until most of the liquid has been absorbed by the orzo. Place the pot on the stove top and carefully remove the chicken again from the pot. Add feta and spinach to the pot, stirring until the spinach wilts and the feta gets melty. Add chicken back to the pot, sprinkle in herbs (if using), and have diners serve themselves.
P.S. For vegetarian recipes and strategies on how to dial back on meat, check out my New York Times bestselling book The Weekday Vegetarians. Reminder: All the fun stuff these days happens in the Dinner: A Love Story newsletter on Substack, which is consistently in the Top 10 most-read food newsletters on the entire platform. You can subscribe here.