Search icon


21st May 2015

My 2 no-brainer family favourite recipes – clean plates every time


I know how difficult it is to come home from work or a long day with the kids and try to think of something to cook for dinner that everyone will enjoy.

So I want to share two of our very simple family favourites with you. Neither take a lot of preparation and both have been composed with busy families in mind.

1. Orzo Chicken

Orzo is short pasta shaped like barley grain and great for cooking pilaf style.

This is one of our family favourites, mostly because it brings peace to the dining table – it is a comforting type of family dinner with simple ingredients that is nourishing yet mild enough to keep everyone’s taste buds happy. It is a perfect weekday dinner.

This recipe serves eight, which is quite a lot but it’s really good reheated so save the leftovers and give yourself a break on Saturday at lunch time when the hunger games begin; or bring it to the office, reheat and eat under the jealous eye of your colleagues.

Serves 8


  • 1kg of boned chicken, skin on (I like to use whole legs boned but any cut will do)
  • 500g of orzo
  • 1.5lt chicken stock
  • 5 peeled whole shallots
  • 200g frozen peas
  • Salt and pepper


  • Preheat oven to 180C.
  • Put the stock on to heat.
  • Cut the chicken into matchbox size pieces.
  • Heat a large casserole pot on the hob and brown the chicken pieces, adding a little salt and pepper.
  • Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  • Ladle off the excess oil from the chicken at this point but leave about 2 tablespoons in the pot.
  • Add the whole shallots to the casserole, toss around for 3-4 minutes, browning slightly.
  • Add the orzo and toss around in the oil from the chicken for about 3 minutes. This will coat the orzo and allow it to absorb the stock more slowly.
  • Add the browned chicken back into the pot along with the hot chicken stock.
  • Stir well making sure nothing is sticking to the bottom of the pot, cover and place in the pre-heated oven for 30 minutes.
  • Remove the pot from the oven, check for seasoning.
  • Add the peas, mix through and allow to cook in the heat of the orzo for 5 minutes.
  • Heat the pot up again on the hob, stirring all the time, then serve.

Orzo Chicken 2-0104

2. Best Bangers and Mash with Orangey Carrots

For this recipe it is essential that you buy good sausages that are low in salt and have been made by a butcher. The ones you find in the supermarket just aren’t the same, so I use delicious pork and apple sausages from our local butchers.

When making the gravy I make at least double, as it is much easier to caramelise onions when there are more of them in the pot. It takes longer but there is a lot less chance of a burnt crispy mess; plus, it freezes well. It also means that next time you make this recipe you can have everything ready in 5-10 minutes.


Serves 5 with double onion gravy

Preheat the oven to 200C

Onion gravy ingredients:

  • 3 medium onions sliced
  • 1oz of butter
  • 1tbsp of oil
  • 1 pinch of sugar
  • Beef/pork/chicken stock
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Stringed sausages (not cut into individual sausages)
  • 3 wooden skewers (soak in warm water for at least 30 minutes before use to avoid burning in the oven)

Orangey carrots ingredients:

  • 5 carrots
  • 1 small handful of thyme leaves
  • 60mls of orange juice
  • Salt and pepper

Onion gravy method:

  • Heat a pot and add the oil. When it is hot add the butter and allow to brown a little.
  • Add a little salt and pepper.
  • Add the onions to the pot and stir regularly until softened, then add a pinch of sugar.
  • At this point you will have to stir quite frequently but the onions also need to caramelise. It should take about 10 minutes on a medium heat.
  • When caramelised to a deep brown and sticky texture, add the beef, chicken or pork stock.
  • Allow to simmer gently for about 3 minutes.

Orangey carrots method:

  • Cut the carrots into sticks and place in an oven proof dish.
  • Pour over the orange juice, fresh thyme leaves and a tiny bit of salt and pepper.
  • Cover with tinfoil and place in the oven for about 20 minutes

For the sausages:

  • Hold up the string of sausages and unwind the twists between each sausage.
  • Push the meat into the spaces – just a little, the cooking will sort most of this out.
  • Place a drop of oil on a baking tray and rub around.
  • Curl the string of sausages into a spiral.
  • Stick the skewers in from one side of the spiral to the other in three places.
  • Place in the oven and cook for about 20 minutes or until the sausages have browned nicely.
  • Serve with some fluffy mashed potato, the onion gravy and orangey carrots

Orangy Carrots- Bangers'n'mash

Cliodhna Prendergast is the founder of a cool cooking platform called Breaking Eggs – a beautiful website with a series of video tutorials – a brilliant new concept aimed at bringing children to the kitchen to work, and play with food.