Fall comfort food season has arrived and I’m in love. I’ve fallen in love with the one-skillet meal.
I’m not sure it makes sense, really.
It’s not because they’re easy (they are): I don’t mind a little dinner cooking complexity now and then.
It’s not because clean-up is super simple (it is). (I’m one of those weirdos that actually likes doing dishes by hand.)
Orrrr … maybe it makes total sense. All the sense in the world.
Maybe it’s because that, like soup, some foods just taste a m a z i n g when they’re cooked together.
Like with this here chicken and wild rice skillet and its pretty strips of kabocha squash. You do a quick browning of the chicken to get those yummy flavors started, and then cook the rice and the squash and the other vegetables right with the chicken, and as everything cooks, the juices mix and swirl and and bubble together, and pretty soon you’ve got this amazing pan full of texturally complex bites, and rich, companionable flavors. Chicken thighs and baby bellas nestled in a perfectly al dente wild rice and orzo blend, seasoned with onion, garlic, and hearty herbs.
And the kabocha ribbons? Cooked to tender wonderfulness in the rice-nutty, chicken-onion broth.
The best part: after a little preliminary sautéing to get those extra good browning vibes going, you toss the whole thing in the oven to finish.
Hands off. (Holla!)
Oh, and leftovers? This dish is crazy filling (in a good way!), and the odds and ends that survived the meal made an incredible bowl of soup the next day: I had leftover pho, which had nursed me through a terrible, early October head-cold, and … ohmigosh … the two went together like peas and carrots. If it weren’t crazy over-the-top to make both homemade pho broth and this chicken and wild rice skillet just for dinner, I would do it every night.
Do you like one-skillet meals, too? Follow my one-skillet meals Pinterest board. From the amazing dishes I’ve been finding, looks like I’m not the only one in love with one-skillet meals this season!
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 to 1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs, trimmed
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 cloves garlic thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup orzo pasta
- 1 1/4 cups wild rice blend
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 1 cup beer
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 small red onion stem and root end trimmed, peeled, and then sliced into 12 wedges
- 12 to 16 small baby bella mushrooms or small white button mushrooms
- 1 small kabocha squash peeled, flesh sliced into thin ribbons (easy with a vegetable peeler)
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley for garnish
- salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 400°F; position one rack in the center.
In a large skillet or 3 quart cassoulet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Brown the thighs on one side only, and remove to a plate (you'll probably need to do this in batches).
Add the butter and garlic, and saute the garlic until fragrant (just 30 seconds or so). Add the orzo and rice and stir to coat with the butter. Add the stock, beer, thyme, and rosemary, and stir to level out the rice and liquids. Nestle the chicken thighs, onion wedges, mushrooms, and squash ribbons in the rice mixture, and top with a big pinch of salt. Let the liquids come to a gentle boil (should just take a few minutes).
Cover the skillet (use foil, if you don't have a lid), and place in the oven. Cook for 45 to 50 minutes. Most (but not all) of the liquid should be absorbed. If the liquid in the pan seems excessive, remove the cover and bake for 5 minutes more.
Remove from the oven and let rest, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with the parsley and a few grinds of black pepper before serving.
Inspired by this recipe but with a streamlined process.