Cleaning out my pantry is a process that I really enjoy for two reasons: I really hate wasting food while I use my culinary imagination to create new Mediterranean flavored dishes. However, like always I have to be honest with you. While most of my dishes are good — I have to admit — some others aren’t knock-your-socks-off fantastic. And then there are those priceless moments when you realize that your creation is surprisingly great and it’s like you have discovered a new land. That excited. It is exactly what happened with this one-pot chicken drumsticks with baby shallots and orzo.
So the story behind this recipe is 6 chicken drumsticks in the fridge waiting patiently to meet my skillet and a “gang” of baby shallots sitting waaay too long in my pantry. Two wonderful ingredients and a very willing home cook ready to make them a delicious dinner for 3 hungry guys. The addition of orzo is an excellent idea because it is cooked along with the chicken and absorbs all the delicious juices. Enhance flavor even more with a lot of fresh lemon juice and herbs and you will be hooked for good. Like the three hungry guys, I was telling you about. They were devouring their dinner, licking their plates clean and asking for more. I just love to start out a new recipe that ends up being the new family’s favorite dish.
Wait for the best part! This is a one-pot meal. Allow me to explain. You grab one large skillet or pan or dutch oven (whatever you have available) and throw in the chicken and a few other healthy ingredients. Cook for about 45 minutes and serve. Ok maybe I oversimplify a little bit the cooking procedure but, believe me, it is a ridiculously simple recipe even for a novice cook.
Bonus! You wash only one pot and the dishes. So important for all those tired, non-stop, hard-working people nowadays.
Ready? Let’s build that sublime dish together.
The Mediterranean way of eating contains moderate amounts of white meat like poultry (chicken, duck, turkey) and according to the Mediterranean pyramid it is advised to consume 2 servings weekly. Following this instruction couldn’t be more convenient because I cook once and I usually keep leftovers for the next couple of days that I mix and/or match with other fresh ingredients or I simply serve the same dish when I don’t feel like cooking. More no pain to make, extremely delicious and healthy meals for everyone. Can’t beat that!
Chicken breast is the most popular part of a chicken and it is the leanest cut for sure. However, it isn’t my favorite cut for cooking because I rarely use chicken broth (it is always homemade and I am usually out of stock) and no matter the herbs and spices, the taste remains bland. At least, that’s what my taste buds are reporting.
That’s why I chose drumsticks for this recipe. I need a juicy cut to release its flavor all over my skillet. Finally, I cooked them skin on because this is a perfect way to maintain their tenderness and keep them extra moist. Before serving, discard the skin if you like.
Peeling all those baby shallots or pearl onions can be really annoying. I know, I know. No time and energy to do it so. Mind you, there is a quick and easy way: blanch them in hot water for no more than one minute, transfer them in a pot with ice water, cut off the root end with a knife and slip off the skins with your fingers.
To save more time, peel them ahead of time and keep them in a pot covered with water into the fridge for a couple of days. It’s really worth the trouble because these little gems are going to release their delicate sweetness and add another layer of flavor. Perfect.
For this recipe, I keep it simple on purpose. Just thyme and bay for herbs because I want to make the lemon the star of the dish. I really love this lemony taste and it delightfully complements with all the ingredients. So don’t hesitate to add fresh lemon juice for a delicious outcome.
READY! NOW, WHAT?
Dig in! You need so much discipline to resist the smell of this dish and just take a bite. I found it out, the hard way. This recipe’s photo shooting was a disaster. One click with the camera, two bites with my hands. My 3 hungry guys were waiting impatiently repeating constantly “Are you done, mom?” “Not yet?” “May I take one more onion?” Impossible to be creative under these conditions. Impossible to keep leftovers.
Serve this dish with a Chardonnay wine or with “Nykteri”(PDO*), an exquisite dry white wine from Santorini. By all means, it would be even better topped with feta cheese crumbles and served with this traditional cabbage salad.
Make this dish for a cozy, special dinner or for any night of the week and surprise the people you love with a savory, healthy dish. Show me your creations and tag me on social media either on Instagram, Facebook or leave your comment and your rating below. I would be thrilled to hear your opinion and see some photos.
*Protected Designation of Origin
- 6-8 chicken drumsticks, pat dry
- 20-30 baby shallot or pearl onions, peeled*
- 3+1 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 5 cloves garlic
- 4-5 cups hot chicken broth or hot water
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped or 1 tablespoon dry
- 2 lemons, juice
- 1 bay leaf
- ½ cup orzo
- Salt and pepper
- Season drumsticks on all sides with salt and pepper.
- Heat a large skillet (cast iron if available) or pan over medium-high heat, add 3 tablespoons of olive oil and wait to simmer. Sear the chicken on both sides until skin is lightly golden brown, about 5 minutes per side. Remove the chicken from the pan and transfer to a plate.
- Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat and wait to simmer. Add the shallots and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 5-10 minutes (time depends on their size).
- Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the garlic for 1 minute (watch out because it burns fast) and the thyme. Add lemon juice and sauté for 2 more minutes.
- Pour in 2 cups hot chicken broth (or hot water), add the bay leaf and slide the chicken back into the skillet. Cook for 30 minutes. You may add some more broth or water along the way.
- Pour in one more cup hot broth (or hot water) and add the orzo. Reduce heat to low, season to taste and cook for another 10 minutes.
- Remove from heat and let sit 5 minutes. Serve topped with fresh thyme and feta cheese if desired.