Thursday, January 21, 2010

Orange Chicken

Lately, I've been having cravings for chinese food.  I used to always order take-out instead of cooking it myself, but ever since I made sweet and sour chicken that turned out really great, I decided to try to make some orange chicken at home.  I found this recipe on a great blog called, What's Cookin, Chicago?  The recipe is originally from the cookbook, Cooking at Home with America's Test Kitchen

Overall, I really liked this meal.  I really liked the flavor of using chicken thighs instead of chicken breast in this recipe.....I just think the thigh meat is a little more flavorful and juicy.  The sauce was really good and easy to make.  The only thing that I would do differently next time is to brown the chicken a little longer in the oil to make it crispier and more golden brown.


Marinade and Sauce-
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skineless chicken thighs, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
3/4 cup low sodium chicken broth (I used regular chicken broth)
3/4 cup juice, 1 1/2 teaspoons grated zest and 8 strips orange peel (each about 2" long by 1/2" wide) from 2 oranges (it took me 3 oranges to get enough juice and peel)
6 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup darn brown sugar (I used light brown sugar because that's what I had on hand)
3 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1/4 cayenne
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons cold water
8 small whole dried red chiles (optional - I omitted)

Coating and Frying oil-
3 large egg whites
1 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
3 cups peanut oil


For the Marinade and Sauce-
Place the chicken in a 1-gallon zip-lock bag; set aside. Combine the chicken broth, orange juice, grated zest, vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, and cayenne in a large saucepan (I used a 2 quart saucepan); whisk until the sugar is fully dissolved. Measure out 3/4 cup of the mixture and pour into the bag with the chicken; press out as much air as possible and seal the bag, making sure that all the pieces are coated with the marinade. Refrigerate 30-60 minutes, but no longer.

Bring the remaining mixture in the saucepan to a boil over high heat. In a small bowl, stir together the cornstarch and cold water and whisk the cornstarch mixture into the sauce. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until thick and translucent, about 1 minute. Off the heat, stir in the orange peel and chiles, if using; set the sauce aside.

For the Coating-
Place the egg whites in a pie plate, and using a fork, beat until frothy. In a second pie plate, whisk together the cornstarch, baking soda and cayenne until combined. Drain the chicken in a colander or large mesh stainer; thoroughly pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Place half of the chicken pieces in the egg whites and turn to coat; transfer the pieces to the cornstarch mixture and coat thoroughly. Place the dredged chicken pieces on a wire rack set over a baking sheet; repeat with the remaining chicken.

To Fry the Chicken-
Heat the oil in an 11-to 12-inch dutch oven or staight sided saute pan with at least a 3 quart capacity over high heat until the oil reaches 350 degrees on an instant read or deep fry thermometer. Carefully place half of the chicken in the oil; fry to golden brown, about 5 minutes, turning each piece with tongs halfway through cooking (next time I'll fry a bit longer than 5 minutes to get a good golden brown color). Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Return the oil to 350 degrees and repeat with the remaining chicken.

To Serve-
Reheat the sauce over medium heat until it simmers, about 2 minutes. Add the chicken and gently toss until evenly coated and heated through. Serve immediately.

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