Thursday, August 6, 2009

Lemon Pepper Chicken with Cheesy Rice Pilaf

This was a simple recipe that had great flavors.

1/4 cup (plus 2 tablespoons, if roasting) EVOO – Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 lemons, divided
3 to 4 cloves garlic, finely grated or pasted
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 3- to 4-pound chicken, skin removed and cut into 8 pieces

Preheat oven to 450ºF or a grill or grill pan over medium-high heat.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the EVOO, zest and juice of 1 lemon, garlic and black pepper. Season the chicken well with salt and toss into the bowl. Marinate the chicken for 15 minutes.

If roasting, place a large, cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat with 2 turns of the pan of EVOO, about 2 tablespoons. Sear the chicken, meat side-down until golden brown, about 5 minutes, then turn over and transfer the pan to the oven. Roast until cooked through, about 15 minutes.

If grilling, grill chicken until marked and cooked through, 8-10 minutes per side.

Squeeze the juice of the remaining lemon over the cooked chicken and serve with Cheesy Spinach Rice Pilaf alongside.

Cheesy Rice Pilaf

2 tablespoons EVOO – Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/3 cup orzo
1 clove garlic, finely chopped or grated
1 cup light brown or white rice, such as Texmati brand
1 3/4 cups chicken stock or broth, regular or low-sodium
Salt and ground black pepper
2 bunches fresh spinach, chopped (about 4 cups) or 1 10-ounce box frozen chopped spinach, defrosted
3/4 to 1 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

Place a medium pot over medium-high heat with 2 turns of the pan of EVOO, about 2 tablespoons. Add the orzo to the pan and toast until golden brown, 3-4 minutes.

Add the garlic to the pan and continue cooking for another 30 seconds. Add the rice, broth, salt and pepper to the pan and bring up to a bubble. Cover the pot, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until all of the liquid has been absorbed, about 15 minutes.

Fluff the finished rice with a fork and fold in the spinach and cheese.

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