One night while making dinner, I made an interesting mistake: The pot I used to
cook orzo was too small. As the pasta boiled and swelled, the liquid spilled all
over the place creating a huge, sticky mess. The logical solution would’ve been to
transfer everything to a larger pot. But the lack of water made the pasta extra
starchy, taking on a creamy risotto-like texture. It was delicious. We ate it cacio e
pepe style, buttered with black pepper and Parmesan cheese.
Later, I re-created my mistake (in a larger pot) with less liquid to achieve that
gorgeous silky texture. To make it even easier, the asparagus is cooked together
with the orzo—it’s one less pan to clean :
1 tbsp (15 ml) olive oil
4 oz (115 g) diced pancetta, about ¼ inch (6 mm)
1 clove of garlic, grated
1½ cups (250 g) orzo pasta
1 quart (1 L) Triple-Duty Chicken Stock, plus more as needed
1 lb (454 g) bunch of medium asparagus
1 tbsp (15 g) unsalted butter
Wedge of Parmesan cheese, for grating
A few turns of freshly ground black pepper
In a medium pot, warm the olive oil over medium-low heat. Sauté the pancetta
until lightly golden, about 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic and orzo, and stir for
about 30 seconds. The garlic should smell warm and nutty, and the pasta will be
glistening from the oil.
Pour in the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer (lid
tilted) for about 15 minutes. As the orzo absorbs the liquid, the texture will begin
to thicken. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking.
Meanwhile, prepare the asparagus. Snap off the woody ends at the base of each
stalk and discard; they are too tough to eat. Slice the asparagus on a diagonal
about ½-inch (1.3-cm) thick to mimic the angular shape of the orzo.
When your pasta is at the 15-minute mark, add the asparagus to the pot.
Continue to cook (uncovered) until the asparagus is tender, about 3-5 minutes
depending on size.
At this point, the texture of your orzo should be creamy and silky, not too thick.
Quick Tip: Because different brands of pasta absorb liquid at varied rates, add
additional chicken stock to your orzo as needed.
Add the butter and some freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Season with a few turns
of freshly ground black pepper—you should be good on the salt from the
WEEKNIGHT CHICKEN POTPIE
Crispy, buttery, flaky puff pastry. It’s too labor intensive to make from scratch on a
weeknight, involving a series of folds, turns and lengthy chilling time in the
fridge. But it’s too darn tasty to pass up! As an alternative, frozen all-butter puff
pastry is just as good and widely available. You can purchase pre-rolled square
sheets, that’s what I use. Remember to defrost your dough at room temperature
or in the fridge overnight before you get started.
Another time-saver is using leftover shredded chicken and Pre-Chopped
Vegetables. Without these two shortcuts, tack on additional time to cook the
chicken and to chop up the vegetables yourself.
1 tbsp (15 ml) olive oil
2 tbsp (30 g) unsalted butter
1 cup (160 g) diced onions
1 cup (130 g) diced carrots
½ cup (50 g) diced celery
1 tsp roughly chopped sage leaves
3 tbsp (23 g) flour
1½ cups (355 ml) Triple-Duty Chicken Stock
¼ cup (60 ml) half and half
2 cups (250 g) cooked shredded chicken
½ cup (67 g) frozen peas
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
FOR THE PUFF PASTRY
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp water
1 sheet of all-butter puff pastry, defrosted
Whole sage leaves, for decoration
Preheat your oven to 400°F (204°C). Grab a deep pie pan or 9 × 13-inch (23 ×
33-cm) baking dish.
In a large, 12-inch (30-cm) skillet, warm the olive oil and butter over medium
heat. Sauté the onions, carrots, celery and chopped sage leaves until soft, about
3-5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low. Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and
stir well with a wooden spoon; it will start to clump. Pour in the chicken stock
and half and half. Bring the mixture to a gentle boil and simmer until thickened,
about 1-2 minutes.
Fold in the chicken and frozen peas. Season with salt and pepper. Pour the filling
into your baking dish and cool for about 5 minutes before placing the puff pastry
on top; you don’t want the dough to melt. Quick Tip: Stop here if you are making
this dish in advance. Wrap it up (without the dough) and refrigerate until ready
In a small bowl, mix the egg and water together. This is your egg wash.
Clear away all kitchen clutter. Roll out 1 sheet of puff pastry to fit the size of
your baking dish. If using a pie pan, the dough should easily fit the pan without
rolling. Place the dough on top of the filling, casually tucking in the sides as you
go—it doesn’t have to look perfect. Brush with egg wash and decorate with sage leaves. If you don’t have a pastry brush, a folded paper towel will work too.
Using a paring knife, make a few slits through the dough for the steam to escape