Chicken, Cinnamon and Sweet Tomato Orzo: Kotopoulo Kritharaki

Georgina Hayden's comforting chicken tray bake recipe brings together the delicious flavours of sweet tomato, cinnamon and succulent chicken on a bed of orzo pasta. This satisfying one-pot dish is a Greek Cypriot family favourite.

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Taverna: Recipes From a Cypriot Kitchen
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There are so many versions of kritharaki (orzo) in Greek and Cypriot cooking – it is a huge staple for us, and almost always cooked with tomato. This chicken dish is the sort of family one-pot recipe all households should have up their sleeve. I’d put a bet on it being a winner with all ages.

Serves 4-6


1ltr chicken stock
2 onions
2 garlic cloves
olive oil
1 stick cinnamon
1 tbsp tomato purée
5 ripe tomatoes
400g orzo
6 chicken thighs, on the bone and skin on
½ tsp ground allspice
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
250g cherry tomatoes on the vine
6 sprigs fresh oregano
75g halloumi or salted anari/ricotta


Preheat your oven to 200°C/gas mark 6. Heat the chicken stock. Peel and finely chop the onions and garlic. Pour 3 tablespoons of olive oil into a wide casserole pan and add the chopped veg. Place on a medium low heat and sauté for 10 minutes, until starting to soften. Add the cinnamon stick and tomato purée to the pan and stir for a minute. Coarsely grate in the large tomatoes, give everything a stir, then stir in the orzo and hot stock.

Toss the chicken thighs with the allspice and a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Place the chicken on top of the orzo, skin side up, and dot around the vines of tomatoes and sprigs of oregano. Drizzle everything with olive oil and place in the oven for around 30 minutes.

Towards the end of this cooking time, boil a kettle. When 30 minutes is up, remove the casserole pan from the oven. Carefully pour 150ml of boiling water all around the orzo (not on the chicken skin) and return to the oven.

Cook for a further 25 minutes, or until the chicken skin is crisp and golden, and the meat is tender.

Remove from the oven, leave it to rest for 5 minutes, then serve, grating over the cheese.

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