Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Orange Ginger Chicken
I work adjacent to Chinatown in downtown Los Angeles. When we go for Chinese on a workday, there is usually a group of us and we share several dishes a la carte. Inevitably, someone always wants to order orange chicken. I'll be up front with you, no holds barred: I abhor orange chicken. Okay, maybe I just wanted an excuse to use the word abhor. But I never order it myself because of some bad experiences in college involving certain inexplicably popular Chinese fast food joints. It's always greasy. It is deep fried and covered in a syrupy sauce. And I'm sorry to say that even the Chinese restaurants downtown serve something similar and call it orange chicken. Ick.
On a recent cookbook buying binge (a frequent occurrence, as you might have gathered), I picked up the Bon Appetit Fast Easy Fresh cookbook. It's a beautiful green book filled with delicious-sounding recipes. It seemed only fair to try their version of orange chicken, which sounded remarkably more palatable than the fast food version, as a sort of induction of this book into my cookbook collection.
I don't make Chinese food at home very often, other than the occasional stir fry. I was very excited to try something a bit more interesting that might satisfy us a bit more than haphazardly cooked veggies with soy sauce and sesame oil. This recipe, my friends, did the trick. It takes orange chicken to new, healthy and delicious heights. You can actually taste - gasp - REAL orange! Remarkable. Slightly sweet, slightly tangy, an all-around delicious dish. Welcome to the family, new cookbook.
Orange and Ginger Chicken
Adapted from Bon Appetit Fast Easy Fresh Cookbook
2 boneless skinless chicken breast halves, or 4 breast tenders
salt and freshly ground pepper
2-3 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 tablespoon EVOO
2 teaspoons grated peeled fresh ginger
1 garlic clove, minced or pressed
1 tablespoon (packed) dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon dry ground mustard
1 cup fresh squeezed orange juice (Naked Juice is a nice shortcut)
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
1 scallion, green parts only, thinly sliced
1. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and dredge in the flour; shake off the excess. Melt butter in the EVOO in a large skillet over medium-high heat, then add the chicken. Saute until just browned, 2-3 minutes each side. Remove chicken from the skillet and set aside on a plate.
2. Add ginger and garlic to the skillet and stir, cooking about 30 seconds. Add brown sugar and dried mustard and stir to blend into the sauce. Add orange juice and zest. Simmer until sauce is slightly reduced, about 6-8 minutes.
3. Return chicken and any juices to the pan. Simmer 3 minutes, then flip chicken over and add green onions. Simmer until chicken is cooked through and sauce is thick, about 3 minutes longer. Season to taste with salt and pepper if necessary. Serve.
We had ours over brown rice with ever-so-slightly steamed broccoli. This meal is way better than any syrupy, greasy orange chicken you might get at certain unnameable Chinese fast food places! I'm tempted to go to the one across the street from our home and tell them about this recipe.