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QUICK CHICKEN GETS YOU STARTED ON SECOND DINNER

Two-for-one price specials are wonderful for the budget, but how about a two-for-one special for our tight schedules?

Today's recipe for Chunky Seasoned Chicken will buy you two weeknight dinners in the time it usually takes to cook just one. The chicken cooks in 15 minutes, then you freeze half of it to get a jump on another night's dinner.

For tonight, it's a little jaunt to the Greek Isles. Greek Chicken Over Orzo goes together in less than 15 minutes, and it's even faster if you start the water boiling for the orzo while the big batch of chicken is cooking.

Totally free time? Maybe not, but you'll feel ahead of the game with this big batch of seasoned chicken. Read next week's column for Part Two: Quickie Cacciatore.

CHUNKY SEASONED CHICKEN

2 teaspoons olive oil

2 large onions (for about 2 cups chopped)

2 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken-breast halves, see note

1 tablespoon bottled minced garlic

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

Pour the oil into an extra-deep, 12-inch non-stick skillet and place over medium heat. Peel and coarsely chop the onions, adding them to the skillet as you chop. Cook, stirring from time to time.

Cut all of the chicken into bite-size pieces (roughly 1/2 -inch cubes). When all of the chicken is cut, add it to the pan and raise the heat to high. Cook, stirring constantly, until the chicken is cooked through, about 5 to 6 minutes.

Add the garlic and Worcestershire, stir well, and cook 30 seconds more. Remove skillet from the heat.

Remove half of the chicken mixture (including about half of the juices), about 3 1/2 cups, to a freezer container and set aside to cool. Return the pan to the heat and proceed with the recipe for Greek Chicken over Orzo. The remaining chicken may be refrigerated for two days or frozen for up to one month. Makes 7 cups, for about 8 servings.

Cook's note: This recipe is prepared with fresh chicken. If your chicken is frozen, defrost completely before starting. Be sure to use an extra deep, 12-inch non-stick skillet.

Menu

Greek Chicken Over Orzo

Baby spinach leaves with bottled dressing

Crusty rolls

GREEK CHICKEN OVER ORZO

8 ounces orzo

3 1/2 cups Chunky Seasoned Chicken, defrosted if frozen

1 can (14 1/2 ounces) stewed tomatoes

1 small can (8 ounces) no-salt-added tomato sauce

1 can (14 ounces) quartered artichoke hearts, (not marinated)

1 large can (3.8 ounces) sliced black olives

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves

1/2 teaspoon dried basil leaves

1/4 cup crumbled reduced-fat feta cheese, or more, to taste

Place the orzo into boiling unsalted water and cook according to package directions, about 7 to 8 minutes.

Place the Chunky Seasoned Chicken in the skillet over medium heat. Add the tomatoes and tomato sauce. Drain the artichoke hearts and add them to the skillet. (If your artichokes hearts are whole or in big pieces, coarsely chop them first.) Drain the olives and add them to the skillet. Add the oregano and basil, and stir to mix well.

Raise the heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring from time to time. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the orzo is cooked. Drain the orzo and serve the chicken at once over a bed of hot orzo. Garnish each serving with 1 tablespoon feta cheese. Serves 4.

Send us desperate tales of woe or everyday success stories and your favorite quick recipes to Desperation Dinners, c/o United Media, 200 Madison Ave., New York, N.Y. 10016; or e-mail: ddinners@aol.com.

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