The Nigella Lawson Tip That Transformed Ina Garten's Chicken Orzo

There are a few ingredients that pair so well, that they seem made to enjoy together, like peanut butter and jelly, bread with a slather of butter, or chicken and orzo. Recipes that include chicken and orzo can vary from a chicken orzo soup to serving cooked chicken breasts with a side of orzo and a bit of lemon juice, as Taste of Home details. Food Network cook and author Ina Garten recently shared her version of the dish, which is not quite a soup, but more than just chicken with a side of orzo (via Today). 

Garten's recipe includes whole-cooked chicken, rather than boneless chicken breasts or bone-in chicken pieces. Since Garten's recipe calls for cooking the whole bird in the pot, it can be tricky to ensure the chicken, as well as the finished recipe, ends up with flavor. One way to ensure the whole pot ends up flavorful is to take an initial step to up the dish's flavor at the beginning of the cooking process. And that's a tip Garten says she found in Nigella Lawson's cookbook "Cook, Eat, Repeat," which also calls for making a whole chicken with orzo.

Uses fond to build layers of flavor

That first step is key and it starts by placing a sear on the chicken skin to create and lock in loads of flavor. The "Barefoot Contessa" was inspired to brown the chicken first after coming across Lawson's version of the recipe, called chicken in a pot with lemon and orzo, and Garten loves the flavor added by using this tip. While browning the meat first gives it a golden color, this step isn't just about aesthetics. The process of browning meat creates something called "fond," which is the term for the delicious browned bits of flavor that you find at the bottom of the pan, as described by Food Network.

Garten's recipe doesn't include lemon, but instead, it builds on the unique flavor imparted by the fond and layers in other ingredients that add a "brightness" to the recipe, like a bundle of fresh dill, thyme, and parsley, as well as leeks, fennel, garlic, and saffron threads. In Garten's recipe, everything simmers together in chicken stock and then orzo is added during the final stages of cooking to allow it to cook in the broth and slightly thicken the remaining liquid in the dish. The end result is a bowl of delicious, comforting chicken and pasta that has just enough broth to add a satisfying slurp to the meal.