This is my best friend, Harris:
(I stole that from his Facebook, but have seen him be a yoga freak in person as well.)
Long over a year ago, he passed a recipe for his mom’s Chicken a l’Orange to me and I’ve had it on an electronic sticky note on my computer’s desktop for all this time.
I haven’t seen Harris in far too long as he’s been busy galavanting all over Europe for the past 2 years (I’m not jealous at all) and our Skype availability never seems to match up. Staring at this recipe really made me miss him!
Since I haven’t cooked in forever, or so it seemed, it finally felt like the right time to use that recipe since I couldn’t come up with anything better in my useless brain. By the time I got to the grocery store with the recipe in my hand, I decided to change it to a more Asian-inspired Orange Chicken recipe. The original recipe isn’t much different from what I did, but I merely switched out American chili sauce (like fancy ketchup) for Asian garlic chili so-spicy-it-makes-you-die sauce, added a vegetable, and used chicken chunks (appetizing) instead of whole, bone-in pieces. And I sauteed instead of baked the chicken in the sauce.
I’m by no means an authentic Asian cook. I consider myself an aficionada of Asian cooking but this is in no ways super authentic. However it did taste mighty good and satisfied an unhealthy Chinese food craving.
Orange Chicken (serves 3-4)
1.5-2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 6 thighs)
1/2 cup all purpose flour
salt & pepper
3 T vegetable oil
1 cup orange juice
2 T soy sauce
1-2 T garlic chili paste (spicy! be careful!)
2 tsp dijon mustard
1 T blackstrap molasses
1 red bell pepper, chopped
Cut the chicken into small pieces and set aside. In a mixing bowl, combine flour with a dash of salt and pepper. Lightly toss the chicken pieces in the flour, covering most of the exposed surfaces. Heat vegetable oil to medium high — ideally you’ll do this in a large wok but I used a Dutch oven since that’s all I had and it worked fine. When the oil is hot, it will glisten. Carefully (!!) drop the floured chicken into the oil in small batches and let it sizzle for a minute or two before stirring it and letting it brown for a few minutes longer. Remove and repeat until all chicken is brown — it will not be fully cooked at this point. Turn the heat down on your oil once the chicken is all removed. Carefully pour in the orange juice, using a spatula/other utencil to gently scrape the chicken goodness off the bottom of the pan with the help of the OJ. Add in the garlic chili paste, soy sauce, mustard, and molasses, stirring well to combine. Add in the chopped peppers, letting them simmer for a few minutes before adding the chicken back to the wok/pot/vessel. Stir everything well and bring the heat up until the mixture is at a low boil. Allow the mixture to cook, uncovered and gently boiling for 10-20 minutes or until the sauce has reduced by half. The chicken should be cooked through and the peppers soft. Serve hot with rice and broccoli, just like the Chinese restaurants!