How to Make Ina Garten’s Chicken in a Pot with Orzo
Full of flavor, Ina Garten's 'Chicken in a Pot' with orzo is a hearty, homestyle meal that will feed the whole family.
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At first glance, this recipe from the Barefoot Contessa looks like one to pull out for a dinner party, but it’s much more versatile than that. Since most of the cooking time for Ina Garten’s ‘Chicken in a Pot’ with orzo is hands-off, done in the oven, it’s a deceptively easy dish.
In her recipe, a whole chicken simmers in broth with sauteed veggies, saffron and fresh herbs. Orzo, a type of pasta, is stirred in at the end where it cooks quickly and thickens the sauce. It’s a warming and filling meal with plenty of leftovers.
Ina Garten’s Chicken in a Pot with Orzo
Nancy Mock for Taste of Home, GETTY IMAGES
Ina’s recipe says it serves four, but I found that it easily makes enough for 6-8 people.
- 1 whole chicken, 3-1/2 to 4 pounds
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cups diced carrots (3/4-inch cubes, from about 10 ounces of whole, scrubbed carrots)
- 2 cups diced celery (3/4-inch cubes, from 4 ribs of celery)
- 2 cups chopped leeks (from white and light green parts of 3 leeks)
- 2 cups chopped fennel (from 1 large bulb after removing stalks and core)
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic (from 2 cloves)
- 4 cups homemade or boxed chicken stock, heated to a simmer
- 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
- 6 sprigs fresh thyme
- 8 sprigs fresh parsley
- 10 sprigs fresh dill, plus extra for serving)
- 1-1/2 tablespoons kosher salt (plus extra for seasoning at the end)
- 1-1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- 3/4 cup orzo
- Dutch oven: An enameled cast-iron pot distributes heat well during cooking.
- Kitchen twine: It has so many uses in the kitchen, like tying this recipe’s herb bundle.
- Shallow bowls: Wide, shallow bowls make it easy to scoop up big spoonfuls of chicken and pasta.
Step 1: Prepare the chicken
Preheat the oven to 350°F and move the center rack down a notch. Have a large plate ready. Pat the chicken dry all over using paper towels.
Heat the oil in a 3.5 quart or larger Dutch oven over medium to medium-high heat. Place the chicken breast side down in the pot and sear it for 5-7 minutes without moving it, until the surface is nicely browned. Turn the chicken breast side up and sear for 3-4 minutes longer to brown the bottom. Move the chicken to the plate.
Step 2: Cook the veggies
Pour the chopped carrots, celery and leeks into the pot and saute them for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the veggies are soft and starting to brown. Stir in the diced garlic and cook for one more minute.
Step 3: Assemble ingredients in the pot
Spread the veggies out to make a space in the center of the pot, then nestle the chicken back in the pot, breast side up. Add in the hot chicken stock and the saffron threads; add enough water so that only an inch of the breastbone is exposed. Tie the sprigs of thyme, parsley and dill into a bundle with kitchen twine and add it to the liquid along with the salt and pepper. Raise the heat and bring the liquid to a boil.
Step 4: Move the pot to the oven
Move the pot off the heat and cover it. Transfer the pot to the oven and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Periodically check the contents to be sure the liquid is gently simmering. (If it isn’t, bump up the oven temp a little.)
Step 5: Add the orzo
Remove the pot from the oven. Remove and discard the herb bundle. Stir the orzo into the broth around the chicken. Put the lid back on and let the pot sit off the heat for 15-20 minutes until the pasta is tender.
Step 6: Serve
Use two forks to separate the chicken into quarters, leaving bones in the leg portions and removing the breast meat from the bird. Or, since the meat will be fall-apart tender, you can also remove meat from the bones entirely. Spoon some of the broth with orzo into large, shallow serving bowls, followed by a portion of chicken. Top each bowl with minced fresh dill and a sprinkle of salt.
Here’s What We Thought
My family and I found Ina’s chicken in a pot with orzo to be delicious! The chicken and vegetables turn out very tender, and the addition of fresh dill at the end gives a welcome touch of color and fresh flavor. We had trouble describing what type of dish this is: part soup and part stew (what Rachael Ray calls a “stoup.”) The broth thickens once the orzo cooks through, and as it sits it thickens even further.
As I mentioned before, the recipe makes a lot of chicken and orzo (we had enough for a few dinners and to give to a friend). It’s a great dish for a big family dinner or to have leftovers to bring to work for lunch.
Try making Ina’s famous meat loaf next!
Ina’s Tips for Making This Recipe
Nancy Mock for Taste of Home
Use quality ingredients
One of Ina’s secrets to simple, flavorful cooking is to choose the best quality ingredients. For this recipe, choose the freshest carrots, fennel and celery available, from local growers if possible. Ina also likes choosing smaller-sized chickens like the one used here for meat that turns out more tender than from larger birds.
Make it with homemade stock
If you have homemade chicken stock available, use it—your dish will be even more flavorful. If not, don’t worry. No one will fault you for using a good, boxed chicken stock here. What you can do, however, is save the bones plus the odds and ends trimmed from veggies to make homemade stock for future recipes.
Don’t skip the browning step
Ina learned this trick from Cook, Eat, Repeat author Nigella Lawson. Browning the chicken creates a deeper, more savory flavor that elevates this dish. It takes less than 10 minutes, so there’s no reason to skip it!