Homemade Orange Chicken

homemade orange chicken.jpg

Orange chicken is my absolute favorite Chinese take out meals. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever met a person who doesn’t enjoy it. (And if that rare person is you, please comment and let me know!) Until recently, I’d never thought to try making it myself. While it does take some time to prep and cook, it’s completely worth the effort to make it every once in a while as a special treat. The sauce is especially delish and could even be used to coat and jazz up any sort of pre-made chicken bites you might buy.

I served the chicken with some simple white rice and steamed broccoli but you can use any sort of sides you prefer like brown rice, fried rice, chow mien noodles, various vegetables, etc. Maybe even throw in some fortune cookies for a genuine take out vibe!

Homemade Orange Chicken

Ingredients:
For the marinade and sauce:
3/4 cup chicken broth
1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (about 3 oranges)
Zest of 2 oranges
6 Tbsp white vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar (any kind – I used dark brown)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp fresh ginger, grated (plus more minced, if wanted)
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 1/2 lbs boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 Tbsp plus 2 tsp cornstarch
2 Tbsp cold water

For the coating and frying:
3 large egg whites
1 cup cornstarch
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
3 cups oil (I used vegetable oil, but can use canola, peanut, etc.)

Yield: 4 servings

Directions:
To make the marinade and sauce, combine the chicken broth, orange juice, orange zest, vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, and cayenne pepper in a large saucepan; whisk to blend well. Measure out about 1/3 cup of the mixture and transfer it to a large zipper lock plastic bag or a dish. Add the chicken pieces to the bag, pressing out the excess air and sealing well. Or if using a dish, evenly coat the chicken with the marinade. Refrigerate and let it marinate for 30 to 60 minutes. Place the saucepan with the remaining sauce mixture on the stove and heat over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer. In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and water until smooth. Add this mixture to the saucepan with the sauce. Continue simmering until the sauce is thick and translucent, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and set aside.

To prepare the coating, place the egg whites in a pie plate or shallow bowl and whisk until frothy. In a second plate or bowl, combine the cornstarch, baking soda, and cayenne pepper; whisk to blend. Drain the chicken from the marinade in a colander or large strainer and pat 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, shaking off the excess. Transfer to a plate and repeat with the remaining chicken pieces.

To fry the chicken, heat the oil in a Dutch oven or straight-sided sauté pan until the oil reaches 350 degrees F. Carefully place half of the chicken pieces in the oil and fry until golden brown, about 5 minutes, turning the pieces halfway through cooking.  Remove from the oil with a skimmer or slotted spoon and transfer to a paper towel lined plate. Return the oil to 350 degrees F and repeat with the remaining chicken pieces.

Reheat the sauce if necessary and toss with the cooked chicken pieces. Serve over rice and add some vegetables, if desired. Enjoy!

Source: Slightly adapted from Annie’s Eats

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