Chicken Thighs in a Creamy Sweet Pea and Tarragon Sauce over Lemony Orzo
- 1 pound orzo pasta
- Salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons butter, divided
- Zest and juice of one lemon
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
- 8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 8-10 thyme sprigs, leaves removed and roughly chopped
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped or finely grated
- 1 bay leaf, fresh or dried
- 2 ribs celery, thinly sliced
- 1/2 tablespoon flour (half a palmful)
- 1/2 cup dry white wine (a generous splash)
- 2 cups chicken stock (eyeball it)
- 1/2 cup half-and-half or heavy cream (eyeball it)
- 1 package frozen peas (10 ounces)
- 3 sprigs fresh tarragon, leaves removed, no need to chop
Place a large pot of water over high heat and bring up to a boil to cook the orzo. Once boiling, add some salt and the orzo and cook until al dente, according to package directions. Thoroughly drain the orzo, return to the pot and add 1 tablespoon of the butter, the lemon zest and juice and some salt and pepper.
Place a large skillet over medium-high heat with two turns of the pan of EVOO, about 2 tablespoons. Season the chicken thighs with salt, pepper and the thyme. Transfer to the hot skillet and brown for 4-5 minutes on the first side. Flip the chicken thighs and scoot them to the sides of the skillet, creating a little free surface space in the middle of the skillet.
To the cleared out spot, add the onion, garlic, bay leaf, celery and a little salt and pepper. Cook, stirring every now and then, for about 3-4 minutes. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon butter to the onion and garlic, melt and add the flour, then stir and cook about a minute. Add the white wine, cook for 1 minute, then add the chicken stock and half-and-half or heavy cream and shake and stir the skillet to combine the thighs with the onion, garlic and liquids. Bring up to a bubble and lower the heat to medium and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the peas and tarragon and cook until the peas are heated through.
Divide the orzo between four shallow bowls and top with some chicken and the sauce.