Ina Garten Uses This One Ingredient For Fancy Weeknight Chicken


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Despite being a comforting classic, no-frills roasted chicken can be a bore for the palate. But a few simple tweaks can transform bland chicken into having mouthwatering flavor, and none of them involve breadcrumbs or deep-frying. To take any chicken to the next level, we turned to the queen of cozy recipes, Ina Garten, and her latest cookbook: Go-To Dinners: A Barefoot Contessa Cookbook.

Although the Barefoot Contessa has plenty of chicken recipes up her sleeve, her most recent from Go-To Dinners is an instant fall favorite, and one ingredient plays the most important role.

RELATED: Ina Garten’s Make Ahead Cheesy Mashed Potatoes Feature A Surprising Twist

A recent Instagram post from Garten showcased a swoon-worthy chicken dish fit for fall. “Now that autumn is really here, all I want for dinner is something warm and satisfying like Chicken in a Pot with Orzo,” Garten wrote in the caption.

According to her post, this dish is similar to a cozy seasonal staple, but it contains one key ingredient that sets it apart from others. “It has all the classic chicken soup flavors plus a big pinch of saffron,” Garten adds. “It’s made in one big pot and the whole house smells wonderful.” 

Ina’s Secret Ingredient

Garten’s Chicken in a Pot with Orzo has a bit of luxurious flair thanks to the addition of saffron, one of the world’s most expensive spices. Sweet but floral, it gives this chicken dish a rich, distinctive flavor that makes it truly memorable. 

While we love how Garten uses saffron in this chicken dish, saffron is a versatile ingredient that can enhance any recipe. Paellas, pilafs, and risottos are among its most classic uses.

When it comes to desserts, Saffron complements vanilla beautifully, so it can effortlessly transform custards and cookies. Saffron is not only a flavor enhancer but it can also be consumed as a tea with many benefits, including a boost in mood and sexual drive.

If you want to prepare this cozy meal this fall, gather the following ingredients; a whole chicken weighing around four pounds is ideal. You’ll also need carrots, celery, leeks, fennel, garlic, chicken stock, fresh herbs, orzo, and the star of the dish, saffron threads. Additionally, Garten’s recipe calls for basic pantry staples like salt, pepper, and olive oil.

In Garten’s recipe, the chicken is thoroughly patted dry before being added to a Dutch oven with olive oil, such as Garten’s favorite Le Creuset. Once the chicken has been seared on both sides, it should be transferred to a plate. Then, add vegetables to the Dutch oven and sauté until they start to brown. Add garlic and cook until fragrant. Return the chicken to the pot, and add the stock and saffron, along with enough water to cover the chicken.

Bundle some fresh herbs, put them in the pot, and bring them to a boil. Cover and simmer for another hour. After one hour, discard the herbs, add the orzo and cook until tender. As the last step, separate the chicken, then spoon broth, chicken, and orzo into serving bowls for a showing-stopping meal.

So, grab some saffron for your next culinary adventure to experience the exotic flavor and many benefits of this luxurious spice. To get started, try Garten’s Chicken in a Pot with Orzo. You can find that recipe, as well as many more in Garten’s new cookbook, Go-To Dinners: A Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, now available on Amazon.

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