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I’m always a fan of using an ingredient in a new way. Sometimes, we get stuck thinking that what has always been will always be. Apricots already take a backseat to peaches and are usually relegated to preserves, pies, or maybe a chutney. All of those uses are a wonderful way to use in-season fruit, but what if you want something on the savory side?
This one skillet dish breaks the boundaries and opens up the door to the use of apricots as part of a savory dish. The sweet but slightly sour flavor of apricot is the perfect vehicle to elevate chicken. Once cooked, it adds an almost marmalade-like consistency, but with a greater depth of flavor.
You’re going to love this recipe, especially if you love to make one dish meals!
Why use apricots in a savory dish?
A lot of times, we look to balance out meals with something sweet. Dressings have sugar, honey, or maple syrup. Meats use rubs with brown sugar. And why is that? Sweetness creates an equilibrium in a dish.
Apricots are a step above plain sugar. They have obvious sweetness, but also the perfect amount of sour. As they bake in the oven, they become soft and almost spreadable, which is just the right texture when mixed with the orzo. The apricot flavor is perfect with rosemary and sage and the enhances their herbal notes.
What is orzo?
One skillet dishes sound amazing but can be difficult to develop. The idea of everything cooking at the same temperature and time sounds amazing, right? But, in reality, it’s an uphill battle. Finding an ingredient that can cook alongside the chicken without becoming mushy or underbaked takes some practice. With that in mind, say hello to ozro!
Orzo is actually a pasta that looks like a large grain of rice or barley. The small uniform shape lends to a quick cooking time on the stovetop but can be also be used for a slower bake in the oven. The best part is that as the chicken bakes on top, the orzo underneath soaks up the drippings and pulls in all the flavor. It’s a win-win all around!
Watch how to make this apricot chicken recipe
One Skillet Apricot Chicken with Orzo
- 4 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs
- 2 tsp salt separated
- 1 ½ tsp pepper separated
- 1 cup sliced leek
- ½ lb apricots
- ¼ cup chopped sage
- 2 tbsp rosemary
- 1 cup orzo
- 2 tbsp orange juice
- 2 cups chicken stock
- Preheat oven to 375°F.
- In a 10- or 12-inch cast-iron (or oven-ready) skillet, heat 1 tbsp olive oil over medium. Sprinkle the chicken thighs with 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper on all sides. Once the oil is hot, add the chicken, skin side down. Sear until the chicken skin is deep golden brown and releases from the skillet easily, 6-8 minutes. Remove from the skillet and set aside.
- In the same skillet, add prepared leeks. Sauté until soft and just beginning to turn golden, 5-7 minutes.
- Remove the skillet from the heat and add orzo, apricots, rosemary, and sage. Stir to combine and add the orange juice and chicken stock. Nestle the chicken thighs skin side up. Add 1 tsp salt and ½ tsp pepper.
- Bake in preheated oven until the orzo is tender and the chicken thighs reach 160°F, 30-40 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to rest 10 minutes before serving.