There are a ton of different chicken and orzo casseroles to be found on the Web. You can go lighter, tossing chicken and orzo with a zesty dressing along with cherry tomatoes, or you can use a tomato sauce base, making it more of a traditional pasta dish. This recipe however, is neither of those.
This casserole is kind of chicken noodle soup meets chicken pot pie, but it puts a twist on it by adding Dijon mustard and capers. And it's those capers that really makes this dish something special. But the fact that it's stuffed full of veggies and smothered in a cream sauce doesn't hurt either.
Chicken and Orzo Casserole
1 hour, 5 minutes
1 tablespoon (15 ml) olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced finely
3 ribs celery, diced finely
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup (85 grams) butter
1/4 cup (85 grams) all-purpose flour
3 cups (1.2 kilograms) chicken broth
3/4 cup (255 grams) heavy cream
1/4 cup (85 grams) Dijon mustard
1/4 cup (85 grams) capers, rinsed
1/8 teaspoon (0.6 ml) nutmeg
2 tablespoons (30 ml) fresh sage, chopped
1 cup (340 grams) dried orzo pasta
1/2 cup (170 grams) broccoli florets, chopped fine
2 pounds (680 grams) cooked chicken, cubed or shredded
1/2 cup (170 grams) bread crumbs
1/4 cup (85 grams) melted butter
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius).
Add olive oil to a skillet set over medium heat. When hot add the onion, carrots and celery and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes, until vegetables are soft and aromatic. Add the garlic, stir, and cook for another 30 seconds. Move vegetables to a large bowl.
Place 1/4 cup (85 grams) butter in a medium-sized saucepan set over medium heat. When it melts, add the flour and whisk to fully combine. Cook for 2 minutes. Slowly add the chicken broth, whisking as you do to avoid lumps. When all broth has been added, reduce heat to low and cook for 5 minutes, until it's thickened slightly. Remove from heat and add cream, mustard, capers, nutmeg, and sage. Season with salt and pepper and add to the bowl with the vegetables.
While vegetables and sauce are cooking, bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a rapid boil. When boiling add orzo and cook for just 5 minutes, stirring once or twice. Drain, and add to bowl with sauce and vegetables.
To the pasta, vegetables and sauce add the broccoli and chicken. Mix to thoroughly combine all ingredients and then pour into a shallow gratin dish, cast-iron skillet, or other casserole dish that's not glass.
Place bread crumbs in a small bowl and pour 1/4 cup (85 grams) melted butter over top. Season with salt and pepper and combine well to allow bread crumbs to fully absorb the oil. Once it does, sprinkle the bread crumbs evenly over the top of the casserole.
Place the casserole into the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Turn broiler on, broil for just 2 minutes so bread crumbs turn golden, and remove from oven.