Orange Chicken and the Freshman Fifteen

I didn’t eat a lot of Chinese food growing up, but I sure made up for it my freshman year of college. There was a highly questionable Chinese takeout place near campus, and I had orange chicken and crab rangoon delivered to my dorm room once or twice a week. That’s right, I didn’t even need beer to gain my freshman fifteen.

We can all agree that orange chicken is an objectively delicious dish – fried chicken smothered in a sweet, spicy sauce and then served over rice. However, ordering it from an unknown Chinese restaurant is always a huge gamble, because you never know what kind of chicken is lurking under that sauce. The chicken from my college place was especially bad (the things we do in college).

Here’s the solution to this problem: this fan-flippin-tastic orange chicken recipe. Since it’s a little bit of work, you’re probably not going to make it twice a week, which should take care of the whole freshman-fifteen issue. And, since you control the quality of the chicken, you know it’s going to be tender and delicious. And it is. This is so good. You know how sometimes the coating on orange chicken can be a little too tough or crispy? Not this. This is so good.

ORANGE CHICKEN (recipe from Annie’s Eats)

For the marinade/sauce:
3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
3/4 cup orange juice
1 tbsp grated orange zest
6 tbsp white vinegar
1/4 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tsp minced garlic
1 tbsp fresh grated ginger
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 tbsp plus 2 tsp cornstarch
2 tbsp cold water
About 1 1/2 pounds boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces

For the coating/frying:
3 egg whites
1 cup cornstarch
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
Oil for frying (peanut, canola, or vegetable)

  1. To make the marinade/sauce, combine chicken broth, orange juice, orange zest, vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, cayenne pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes in large bowl; whisk until smooth. Measure out 3/4 cup of the mixture and transfer it to large plastic bag. Add chicken pieces to bag, pressing out the air and sealing well. Refrigerate 30-60 minutes (no more).
  2. Heat remaining mixture in saucepan over medium-high heat, bringing to a simmer. In small bowl, whisk together cornstarch and cold water until smooth. Add cornstarch mixture to saucepan and continue to simmer until sauce is thickened, about a minute. Remove from heat.
  3. To prepare the coating, place egg whites in pie plate and whisk until frothy. In second pie plate, combine cornstarch, baking soda, and cayenne pepper. Drain the chicken of the marinade in a colander and pat dry with paper towels. Place half the chicken pieces in the pie plate with the egg whites, turning to coat. Transfer to pie plate with cornstarch and turn to coat. Transfer to a plate and repeat with remaining chicken pieces.
  4. To fry the chicken, heat the oil in a medium-sized skillet (oil should reach 350 degrees). Carefully place half the chicken in the oil and fry until golden brown, about 5-6 minutes, turning the chicken halfway through cooking. Remove the chicken with a slotted spoon and drain on a plate covered with paper towels. Return oil to 350 degrees and repeat with remaining chicken.
  5. Reheat the sauce if necessary and toss with cooked chicken pieces. Serve over rice.

MAN I wish we could have this once a week. I liked this so much better from orange chicken you’d get at a restaurant. Next time I make it, I think I’ll double the sauce – there’s plenty of sauce to coat the chicken, but if you’re like me and get excited at the thought of rice swimming in sauce, you’ll want to have a little more.

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2 thoughts on “Orange Chicken and the Freshman Fifteen

  1. Pingback: Chicken Couscous Salad « windykitchen

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