Chicken ‘risotto’ with lemon-caper sauce

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.


  • 2 lemons
  • 120g unsalted butter
  • 3 eschalots, finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely diced
  • Sea salt
  • 1½ cups orzo pasta (or risoni)
  • 1 tsp chopped thyme
  • 4½ cups chicken stock, warmed
  • ½ cup crème fraîche
  • ½ cup grated parmesan
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 skinless chicken breasts
  • ½ cup plain flour
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • 2 tbsp salted baby capers, rinsed
  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley


Zest and juice the lemons, then set aside.

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).

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

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

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.

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).

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

NOTES: Want something to drink?
Friulano is a versatile grape and the 2013 Bastianich Vigne Orsone Friulano, from the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region of Italy, offers vivid acidity and great texture as well as orange zest, herb and ginger spice flavours.

First published in the Good Weekend.

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