Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

Greek-Style Orzo Casserole

As we settle into the long, cold, dark days that come with the final slog through winter, we—your pals from The Awl and The Hairpin—will be bringing you some of our favorite casserole recipes (and crockery recommendations). But these won’t be just any old casseroles! No, no, that won't do at all. These are fancy casseroles—or at least, not-gross ones.

Be a love and come sit by me so we can have a quiet discussion about how Martha Stewart's recipes are terrible. Shhhhhh, not so loud! Cripes, she might hear you and then we'll all be done for. Death by glue gun and glimpses of Baby Jude.

This recipe was inspired by a Martha Stewart orzo casserole recipe gone wrong. I mean, it didn't go wrong because of anything I did—I know how to follow instructions, thanks—but as with every single one of The Marth's recipes I've ever tried it just… didn't turn out. In this case, I found that the use of lemon zest waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay overpowered the dish, and the next-day leftovers were virtually inedible because it was like lemon oil central in there. And as we've established around these parts, I'm a pretty big lover of lemon.

The thing is, though, there were two elements to the recipe I liked: (1) the feta, which mellowed significantly in flavor during cooking and gave the dish an amazing creamy quality; and (2) the technique of pouring boiling stock over raw chicken and orzo, which meant no pre-cooking was required.

So I used my imagination and tinkered and came up with this really awesome and incredibly easy Greek-style orzo casserole.

Step 1: In a small saucepot, bring 3 cups chicken or vegetable stock, 2 tablespoons butter, ½ a teaspoon dried marjoram or oregano and salt & pepper to taste to a boil.

Step 2: Put the following things into a 3-quart or larger lidded casserole dish:

1 pound boneless chicken breasts, cubed
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes, drained OR 1-2 cups diced fresh tomatoes (it being winter here in New York I went for the canned goods)
1 small zucchini, diced
1 small onion, sliced
5-10 kalamata olives, chopped
2 cups orzo, uncooked
½ cup crumbled feta

Step 3: Pour the boiling stock mixture over the chicken, vegetable and orzo and stir well to combine. You'll notice that the chicken will start to cook, which is so creepy and gross for some reason. Chicken squicks: do you think there will ever be a day when we collectively get over the chicken squicks? Because I seriously doubt it. Once everything is stirred, put the lid on your casserole dish and put the whole thing in a 400 degree oven; cook for 25 minutes covered, then uncover it and cook for another 20 minutes. That's all! I know, doesn't that seem too easy?

Serve it with a spinach and red onion salad and some flatbread while wearing a toga to complete the effect.

Jolie Kerr can't seem to stop taking swipes at Martha Stewart and is truly worried for her safety.

29 Comments / Post A Comment

mrschem (#1,757)

Kickasserole, indeed! This sounds awesome!

hockeymom (#143)

*what's a chicken squick?

LornaLoo (#214,484)

Dude. I had a chocolate chip cookie recipe from one of her cookbooks fail multiple times with fresh ingredients. I even went out and bought brand new baking soda after the first failure, even though the other soda was only a month or so old.
I am convinced that she deliberately sabotages her recipes so that none of her minions can ever achieve her pinacle of perfection.

jolie (#16)

I am convinced that she deliberately sabotages her recipes so that none of her minions can ever achieve her pinacle of perfection.

I just audibly gasped. Oh my God. THAT IS IT. THAT IS WHAT SHE IS DOING.

melis (#1,854)

"What do you mean you can't get the cookies to rise? Shh. Hush, now. Let Martha do that for you, you silly little thing. You rest now."

LornaLoo (#214,484)

@jolie It's like when Mennonites/Amish people build things, they always leave one imperfection to show God that no matter how hard they try they will never reach his godly measure of all-encompassing perfection and awesomeness, perfection is allowed only by God.

Only instead of it being a choice made by the builder to show reverence for their Maker, Martha just does it for you… to show reverence for HER.

melis (#1,854)

"Martha? Martha, what's wrong?"

"The rain. Sometimes it gives me the blues. When you first came here, I only loved the writer part of you. Now I know I love the rest of you, too. I know you don't love me. Don't say you do. You're beautiful, brilliant, a famous person of the world and I'm – not a movie star type. You'll never know the fear of losing someone like you if you're someone like me."

"Why would you lose me?"

"The cookies are almost finished. Your legs are getting better. Soon you'll be wanting to leave."

"Why would I leave? I like it here."

"That's very kind of you, but I'll bet it's not all together true. I…I have this gun. Sometimes I think about using it. I'd better go now. I might put bullets in it."

LornaLoo (#214,484)

@melis I love your prose, and your take on Misery, but I also have to ask… Is that Martha with Louis CK?

LornaLoo (#214,484)

@LornaLoo Both in the photo and your prose, ideally.

melis (#1,854)

BRB, starting a Kickstarter page for my Misery remake with Martha and Louis C.K.

melis (#1,854)

Just to be clear, Louis will be playing the role of Annie Wilkes.

Jane Err (#99,866)

@LornaLoo It's Mad Money Jim Kramer, darling. Louis CK and Martha would be so intangibly perfect together than any photographs of the two of them would automatically overexpose, leaving behind no proof of their meeting.

LornaLoo (#214,484)

@Jane Err Real Talk.

liz keitz@twitter (#176,736)

@LornaLoo I don't know…I used a Marble Cake Recipe from Martha for Valentines Day and it was pretty awesome (if a little heavy on the buttermilk)…On the other hand I have had her cookie recipes fail me miserably.

LornaLoo (#214,484)

@liz keitz@twitter you said it yourself! "if a little heavy on the buttermilk." I bet it would have been perfect with a third of a cup less buttermilk.

It's a damned conspiracy.

hockeymom (#143)

But you know who's recipes don't suck (besides Jolie's of course)?

The Barefoot Contessa.

I would take Ina in a cage match with Martha, any day of the week.

proseho (#2,358)

@hockeymom As long as you use really good olive oil. If you don't, a daemon will be borne and the dish will decompose à la Poltergeist .

Bitzy (#1,913)

@hockeymom A-fucking-men. Her Perfect Roast Chicken recipe is just that. And also is great for impressing dinner guests with something that allows for maximum wine-drinking social time and minimal fussing in kitchen.

C_Webb (#855)

I took a recipe that was supposed by be eggplant parmesan from Martha years ago when I had a garden and more eggplant than I could shake a zucchini at, and I adapted it to be more parmesan-y, and I love it, so I dimply associate that dish with Martha, but by Jolie's logic I should not, so I won't, because fuck her anyway. Although I confess that I love leafing through her old books from the 80s when her hair was long and her house looked all Colonial-cluttered and she wore bizarre white smocked dresses.

LornaLoo (#214,484)

@C_Webb Pics please.

C_Webb (#855)

@LornaLoo Here!

hockeymom (#143)

@C_Webb I was expecting some egglplant parmesan pics:(

Matt (#26)

Take it from someone who knows: not only is this recipe delicious but watching scalding broth being poured over raw chicken is TOTALLY AWESOME.

boysplz (#9,812)

The pouring boiling liquid over uncooked chicken and rice is pretty boss. The chicken divan recipe I make calls for it and it's a delight.

Also, I hope one of the awl pals that contributes a casserole is Texan because king ranch chicken casserole is way too good to pass up.

liz keitz@twitter (#176,736)

The "glimpses of Baby Jude" thing always makes me think that she is estranged from her daughter and has no contact with her grandchild except through pictures posted to a blog…

Every time I make a Martha recipe, I end up having to doctor the beejeezus out of it to make it taste like SOMETHING. ANYTHING. Does the woman not have taste buds? Is she allergic to seasoning?

Also, I bought her lemon zester, and it zested not. Eff you, Martha.

Martha Stewart's Cooking School is an excellent tome for a home primer on technique and pretty pretty pictures of things I can't afford. I'll give her that.

clairedammit (#14,606)

@Alexandra Renee@facebook

I don't think she tests her recipes very well. I noticed when I watched her show years ago that she'd call for a teaspoon of something and then dump about a tablespoon of it into the pot.

I got frustrated with her recipes because she'd often call for three similar things: shallots, white onions, green onions or sugar, honey, molasses or lemon juice, red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar. Two are good, three are just fussy, and the flavors start to cover each other up.

automaticdoor (#11,521)

Martha! I have a cupcake recipe book of hers and it always fucks up. Always. And the ingredients are so numerous and fussy… I'm DONE. *slams book down, walks out, takes a bit of your casserole to go*

PS, Jolie: do you think basmati rice would sub in okay for the orzo? I miss orzo so much! but can't have it. Would I have to fiddle with cooking times or adjust the amount? Help me, I know nothing.

pissy elliott (#397)

I'm a year late, but I made this around the time it was posted, and it's been a staple in my repertoire ever since. I made a double batch last night, in fact, for lunch during the week. It is so good.

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