As the creator of the popular “fridge foraging“ movement on her Instagram account, Amanda Frederickson has thousands of followers that regularly tune in to watch her turn disparate ingredients from her refrigerator (think: steak, cabbage, radish) into a delicious dinner. (Voila: Steak and Rice Noodle Salad with Cabbage, Peanuts, and Mint!) Her new cookbook, Simple Beautiful Food (Ten Speed Press) captures the same off-the-cuff spirit of cooking, but with recipes, tips and stunning, sun-drenched photography.
Fridge foraging fans know that it can feel like magic watching Frederickson mine her kitchen for ingredients instead of turning to a recipe or shopping list but the key, of course, is knowing what versatile staples to stock in the first place. One of her absolute go-tos is chicken thighs, the unsung hero of the butcher counter, says Frederickson.
“I love chicken thighs because they are super flavorful and super forgiving,” she says, comparing the darker cut of poultry to its popular, paler counterpart, chicken breasts, which can easily get overcooked and end up dry and tough. “Chicken thighs have a little more room for error when cooking because they have a little more fat. Plus, when you cook bone-in, skin-on thighs, they get super crispy and can be a substitute for fried chicken without all the frying.”
Combine those thighs with a quick-cooking pasta and the jolt of juicy flavor you get from sun-dried tomato, and you have this one-pot chicken recipe. Of course, in true fridge foraging spirit, you don’t actually need to have sun-dried tomatoes on hand to make this work! “Lots of things could be swapped out for the sun-dried tomatoes,” says Frederickson. “You could add in pitted olives, canned artichokes, sauteed mushrooms or keep it simple and just use lemon slices.”
Fun fact: Frederickson was formerly a Williams Sonoma Test Kitchen cook! Her favorite recipe from her time in the Test Kitchen? “We really tested that banana bread for a while to get the perfect loaf, and four years later it is still the only banana bread recipe I will make!” says Frederickson. “In fact, I really owe my cooking style to the Test Kitchen—we cooked with the home cook in mind and always tried to share recipes that were accessible yet still incredibly delicious.”
One-Pot Chicken with Orzo and Sun-Dried Tomatoes
- 6 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 Tbs. olive oil
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 cup (7 oz./220 g) dried orzo
- ½ cup (2 oz./60 g) coarsely chopped sun-dried tomatoes
- ½ (4 fl. oz./125 ml) dry white wine
- 2½ cups (20 fl. oz./625 ml) chicken stock
- ½ lemon, thinly sliced
- Preheat an oven to 375°F (190°C). Sprinkle the chicken thighs with a large pinch of salt.
- In a large sauté pan or Dutch oven over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Working in batches to avoid crowding, add the chicken to the pan, skin side down, and sear until the skin is browned, 4 to 6 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a platter.
- Carefully pour off all but 2 Tbs. fat from the pan. Return the pan to the heat, add the onion and sauté until the onion is soft and translucent, 4 to 6 minutes. Add the garlic and a pinch of pepper; continue to cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add the orzo and sun-dried tomatoes and sauté for another 30 seconds. Add the wine and deglaze, stirring to scrape up any browned bits from the pan bottom, and continue cooking until the liquid is reduced by half. Add the chicken stock and lemon slices, then return the chicken to the pan, skin side up. Transfer to the oven and cook, uncovered, until the chicken is cooked through and the orzo has absorbed the liquid, 35 to 40 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and let sit for 5 minutes before serving.
Recipe adapted from Simple Beautiful Food by Amanda Fredrickson (Ten Speed Press, 2020)