Chicken 'risotto' with lemon-caper sauce

Neil Perry
'Risotto' with chicken, lemon and capers.
'Risotto' with chicken, lemon and capers. Photo: William Meppem

It's all about good company: lemon and capers bring a new dimension to this chicken dish. The name "risotto" here is just a play on how the dish finally looks - the orzo pasta looks like rice. You could replace the chicken in this dish with sauteed mushrooms or prawns - either will work perfectly with all the other flavours.

Ingredients

2 lemons

120g unsalted butter

3 eschalots, finely diced

3 cloves garlic, finely diced

sea salt

1 1/2 cups orzo pasta (or risoni)

1 tsp chopped thyme

4½ cups chicken stock, warmed

1/2 cup crème fraîche

1/2 cup grated parmesan

freshly ground black pepper

4 skinless chicken breasts

1/2 cup plain flour

4 tbsp olive oil

1/4 cup white wine

2 tbsp salted baby capers, rinsed

2 tbsp chopped parsley

Method

1. Zest and juice the lemons, then set aside.

2. Heat 80g butter in a saucepan on a low heat. Add half the eschalots, half the garlic and 1/2 tsp salt. Sauté until softened. Add orzo, thyme and 1 tsp lemon zest and cook for 2 minutes. Add 4 cups of stock, 1/4 cup at a time, waiting until each portion is absorbed before adding the next (you may not need all 4 cups).

3. Continue cooking, stirring often, until the orzo is tender, about 30 minutes.

4. Add crème fraîche and simmer for a few minutes. Remove from heat and stir in 1 tbsp lemon juice, grated parmesan and freshly ground black pepper.

5. Butterfly the chicken breasts. Coat in well-seasoned flour. Place 2 tbsp oil in a frypan over medium heat. Add half the chicken to the pan and, without moving pieces, cook for 2-3 minutes until lightly browned on one side. Repeat on other side. Transfer to a plate, cover with foil to keep warm. Repeat with remaining chicken.

6. For the sauce, use the same frypan to sauté remaining garlic and eschalots on a low heat, scraping up the browned bits in the pan. Once eschalots are translucent, add wine, simmer for a minute, then add remaining stock. Add capers and 1/4 cup lemon juice, and reduce by half (about 5 minutes).

7. Remove from heat and swirl in remaining butter. Stir through parsley and add a good grind of pepper.

To serve: Place risotto and chicken on four plates. Spoon over caper and lemon sauce.