Chicken in a Pot with Lemon and Orzo

Here is happiness in a pot!

1 chicken (approx. 4 lbs.)
3 fat cloves garlic, peeled
2 medium carrots
2 medium leeks
1 tbs. olive oil
2 lemons
2 tsp. dried tarragon or thyme
2 tsp. sea salt flakes
1/2 tsp. dried chili flakes
6 1/3 liters cold water
1 cup orzo
6 tbs. finely chopped flat leaf parsley
fresh grated Parmesan, to serve

If time permits, allow the chicken to sit on a cutting board for abut 40 minutes before cooking, then season well. Peel the carrots and cut them into 3 lengths, then into batons. Cut the leeks into 2″ rounds. Heat the oven to 350°F .Heat the oil in a heavy Dutch Oven and add the chicken, breast-side down. Brown over a high heat for 3-5 minutes then turn breast-side up.

Take the pan off the heat and grate the garlic and lemon zest around the chicken. Add the tarragon or thyme and give it all a stir in the oil. Scatter in the vegetables, followed by the salt and chili flakes then squeeze in the juice from the lemons.

Pour in the cold water and bring to a boil. Clamp on a lid and transfer to the oven for 1 1/2 hours. Take the pot out of the oven and sprinkle in the orzo, pushing it under the liquid and give everything a stir. Cook for another 15 minutes, by which time the orzo should be plump and tender.

Let the pot stand uncovered for 15 minutes, then stir in 4 tbs. of the parsley. Using 2 forks, gently pull the chicken away from the bones and discard them. Stir everything again and ladle into warm bowls. Sprinkle with the remaining parsley and the Parmesan.

Serves 4-6

Fish with Three-Herb Salsa

This recipe was written to be a medley of salmon, tuna and swordfish. Here is it deliciously adapted for just swordfish.

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
zest of 1/2 lemon and 1 tbs. juice
2 tbs. fresh parsley, chopped
2 tbs. capers, drained but not rinsed
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp. dried mint
4 smallish swordfish steaks

Make the herb sauce by whisking together the olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, capers, oregano and mint. Season and set aside for at least 15 minutes to let the flavors develop.

Fry the swordfish in a little oil or cook on the grill to your liking. Remove to a plate and spoon over some of the sauce. Serve with the remaining sauce on the side.

Serves 4

Lemon Risotto

This luscious risotto is delicately scented with lemon and a bit of rosemary adds just the right amount of earthiness.

2 shallots
1 rib of celery
1/4 cup butter
1 tbs. olive oil
1 1/3 cups risotto rice
4 cups vegetable stock
zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
2 small sprigs of rosemary, finely chopped
1 egg yolk
4 tbs. grated Parmesan cheese, plus more to sprinkle
4 tbs. heavy cream

Put the shallots and celery in a mini food processor and blitz to a fine mush. Heat half the butter and all the oil in a wide saucepan and add the shallots and celery. Cook gently to soften, about 5 minutes. Stir in the rice, letting it get a good coating of the oil and butter.

Meanwhile, heat the stock in another saucepan, then keep on low.

Pour a ladleful of the stock into the rice and stir until it is incorporated. Continue doing this until the rice is al dente. You may not need all the stock, or you might need more water from the kettle, depending on your rice.

Stir the lemon zest and rosemary into the risotto. In small bowl, combine the lemon juice, egg yolk, Parmesan and cream. When the risotto is ready, stir this in along with the remaining butter. Season well and serve with more Parmesan grated over the top.

Serves 2 as supper or 4 as a side