Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Orange chicken with some POW!

Do you love Chinese takeout as much as I do? I'm not even picky. I walk into HyVee to shop and see their sesame chicken sitting under the warmers and the drool starts pouring down my chin. That wonderful sweet, thick sauce coating the little fried bundles of chicken joy... mmm...

Surprisingly, I'd never tried to reproduce this magic at home. I had no clue where to even start... I'm not huge into frying food for obvious reasons. The fat, the flying spitting oil, the time... ugh. No thanks. Too much effort, not enough payback. UNTIL NOW!

Two events came together that made me think that I might be able to pull this off and not hate myself in the morning. 1st, split chicken breasts went on sale for .98lb! That's awesome! I immediately started meal planning and trolling my usual blog haunts for yummy chicken recipes... 2nd, I found one! A gluten free spicy orange chicken recipe popped up on my screen and I knew it was fate. Time to dive in, forks and oil at the ready.

And OMG was it worth it!
A couple of quick notes... I adapted this recipe twice. If you look at the original recipe linked here, you'll see that she starts you out with a full batter situation. I didn't want to do that. Who has the time? Not this mommy. So, I use a nice cornstarch coating instead. The first time I made this, I made it a spicy orange chicken with the addition of a garlic chili sauce. YUM. The second time I toned it down because I was making it for a group, and my brother and sister wouldn't have eaten it if it was spicy. I'll be giving you the first recipe, but you can just leave the chili sauce out if you aren't into a little heat. It will still be wonderful! This recipe made enough for Daniel, myself & Milo with a tiny bit extra.

Spicy Orange Chicken

adapted from here

3 Chicken Breasts, cut into 1 inch cubes

2 Oranges, juiced

2 cups Rice

2 cups of your favorite frying oil (I used veggie)

1/2 cup Cornstarch + 2 tsp separate for the sauce

1 tsp Salt

3 Cloves of Garlic, minced

1 TBSP Rice Vinegar

2 TBSP Soy Sauce

1 tsp Garlic Chili Sauce

1/4 cup Honey, heaping (don't be stingy on this!)

1 inch Grated Ginger

2 cups of your favorite stir fry veggies (I used broccoli, pineapple and yellow pepper)

1) First, prep all your meat and veggies by washing, chopping, etc. Set aside.

I fracking love broccoli


.98lb chicken...nothing better.

2) Get your rice started according to package directions. It can be cooking while you work on everything else.

3) Put your 1/2 cup of cornstarch and salt in a bowl and stir together until well blended.

4) Dump all but 1 TBSP of your oil into a wok, dutch oven or medium sauce pan and turn your heat to medium (on our oven that would be 5). Test the oil for readiness by dripping a single drop of water in the pan. If it spits it back at you, it's ready to roll.

5) Throw about 10-15 pieces in the cornstarch and toss to coat. Shake off any excess cornstarch before you put them in the pan.

The magic has begun.
6) Test your oil and once it's ready, go ahead and dump in your pieces of chicken! Don't over crowd. There should still be plenty of room in that pan. If you put in too much, the oil temperature will drop and you won't get your nice crispy chicken bits. Toss them around every few minutes to make sure they get equal time on each side in the oil.

Bubble bubble
7) While those cook, go ahead and get your next round of chicken pieces in the cornstarch to coat. They can just sit there and wait. Let your chicken get a nice golden hue going before you bring them out of the pot.

8) Go ahead and throw them out of the pot once they've got that golden hue going. I just put mine in a glass bread pan. I don't have a fancy rack or something to put things on. What can I say? I'm cheap and I use what I've got. These can just sit. You're going to rewarm them before the end, don't worry.

Soooo pretty...
9) Toss in more chicken! If your oil levels start getting low, add more in between rounds of chicken. BE CAREFUL! That oil is hot. If it gets too hot (your chicken gets brown or burned too quickly), turn it down to 3 or 4. If you get too crazy with your tossing, you'll get to take a picture of your oil burned hand covered in aloe.

10) While your last round of chicken is cooking, prep your sauce. Combine your orange juice, rice vinegar, honey, chili sauce (optional), soy, garlic & ginger into a cup or bowl and whisk to combine. Add the last 2 tsp of cornstarch to your mix and whisk to combine.

My sister's hand, not mine.

See all the garlic & chili bits in there?? MMMM...
11) Once you take out your last round of chicken, dump the leftover oil in the pan into a cup for proper disposal at your convenience. Using a paper towel or dish towel, wipe down your pan quickly and carefully and put it back on the stove. Add in the remaining TBSP of oil and put your heat back at medium or 5. Dump in all your veggies and stir fry them until you get the desired consistency. Milo has to have his veggies pretty soft, so I let mine cook about 10 minutes. If you like more crunch, go 5 or so.

So wonderful. Magic.
 12) Once your veggies are cooked just about the way you like them, add your chicken back into the pot and stir it around so it's all combined and getting heat.

Almost excited!
13) Let the chicken and veggies cook together for a minute or two, then give your sauce one final whisk and dump it in!

Ignore the dribbles of cornstarch in the background.

You can't tell me that doesn't look good.

14) Stir the sauce around until it coats everything, and let it come up to a bubble. Once it bubbles, the sauce will turn into that thick wonderful delight we associate with takeout. Once it bubbles, you're ready to eat! Plate up some rice and go to town!

Holy mother of yum.

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