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Orange Chicken

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Recipe adapted from The Pioneer Woman.  [Recipe serves 3 to 4].

This week I've had quite the craving for (American) Chinese food.  Orange chicken, General Tso's chicken, and crab rangoon are all on the list to either create for the first time, or update posts from the blog.  We'll start with updating orange chicken, and see when the next craving hits for any other dishes.

As is true with all dishes, mise en place is a great habit to get used to.  But it's especially crucial with Asian dishes since the cooking time is so short.  If you have everything prepped and ready to go (your oil is up to temp, ingredients are measured out, etc.), this dish can come together in just minutes.

INGREDIENTS:

Peanut oil or vegetable oil, for frying

1 1/2 to 2 pounds chicken breasts or chicken thighs, cut into bite-size pieces
4 large eggs, whites only
2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
3/4 teaspoon sesame oil
Kosher salt, to taste
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 teaspoons fresh ginger, minced

2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 cup water

Green onions, sliced diagonally, optional garnish
Black sesame seeds, optional garnish
Orange zest, optional garnish

DIRECTIONS:

While you're prepping everything else, add 1 1/2-inches to 2-inches of oil to a cast iron pot and heat to 370° F.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg whites and cornstarch.  Add the chicken and toss to coat.  Reserve for 5 to 10 minutes.

Also, whisk together the water and cornstarch in a small bowl to create a slurry for the sauce.  Reserve.

Once the oil is up to temp, carefully drop the chicken into the oil individually.  You'll want to to this in 3 to 4 separate batches, making sure that the oil is at 370° F before you start the remaining batches.  [Side note:  The addition of the chicken into the oil significantly drops the oil temperature.  We're hoping to fry at 350° F, so we're expecting the oil to drop by roughly 20° F each time we add a new batch of chicken.  It's important to let the oil come back up to temp with each new batch so that the chicken doesn't absorb too much oil].  Let each batch of chicken rest on a cooling rack once it's fully cooked, or has an internal temperature of 160° F.

For the sauce, add the whisk together the orange juice, soy sauce, brown sugar, rice vinegar, sesame oil, salt, crushed red pepper, garlic, and ginger in a large sauté pan and bring to a light boil.  While whisking, add half of the cornstarch slurry and continue to cook until it thickens.  If the sauce is not thick enough after one minute, continue adding the slurry until a desired consistency is met.  Season to taste, and then add the fried chicken and toss.

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