Sunday, May 18, 2014

Craving Crunchy Orange Chicken ~ Crowned with Crispy Green Onions and Toasted Almonds ~Asian Inspired

Do you ever have a craving for orange chicken...like Panda Express'?  I love their orange chicken; so when I originally found this recipe on the internet, I was excited to make it.  Though I wouldn't say this is exactly like Panda Express' orange chicken (as the original recipe suggested), this Asian-inspired chicken is sure to satisfy your craving with its crunchy tempura-like batter, true orange flavor and crispy green onion and toasted almond toppings.  With this recipe, you can enjoy orange chicken takeout at home by taking it right out of your own oven with easily accessible ingredients.

Panda Express' orange chicken does have a little more heat than I like, so I adjusted the amount of red pepper flakes from the original recipe.  Of course, if you prefer more heat, you can add more red pepper flakes, or you can just omit the red pepper flakes altogether.  Like I generally do, I made quite a few changes to the original recipes...including increasing the orange flavor with the addition of navel orange pieces.  I preferred the more obvious flavor of navel orange pieces over mandarin orange segments.

As I typically do, I've tried to eliminate any guess work and be as thorough as possible with the directions.  I often say that I write a recipe as though my daughter were standing beside me.          

                                                 It's Take Out...
                                       I Took It Out Of The Oven!


I like to give credit when I find a recipe and adapt it.  I originally found this recipe on babble.com a couple of months back; however, the actual recipe I found is unavailable as of today.  I did find another recipe on babble.com; and though it appears to be the same, it is a different author.  I made quite a few changes to the recipe I originally found.

(As with most similar recipes, it's all about organizing and the prep work.  The 2 TB white vinegar was omitted from the directions for the original recipe, and it was cut off from the ingredient list on my printout. Therefore, I inadvertently did not add the vinegar and the sauce was still very good...so, add it at your discretion, if you like.)

Serves approx. 6

Ingredients

The Chicken
  • 2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 4 room-temperature large eggs
  • 3 TB whole milk
  • 1 3/4 c. (approx.) cornstarch
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 3/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • Vegetable oil for frying...use a fresh good oil (I used canola oil)
The Orange Sauce
  • 1/2 c. soy sauce
  • 1/4 c. ketchup
  • 1/2 c. honey (I use clover-whipped, fancy pure white honey - Kroger carries)*
  • 1/4 c. orange juice concentrate, slightly thawed
  • 2 TB white vinegar (optional)
  • 1 TB dried chive rings
  • 1 tsp. dried, crushed red pepper flakes* (optional)

The Garnish
  • 2 large navel oranges, cleaned and separated into segments (each segment cut in half)...*zest one orange first for garnish
  • 1/4 c. cleaned and chopped green onion (approx. 3 stalks), tops only
  • additional crushed red pepper flakes for sprinkling, to taste (optional)
  • 1 TB (approx.) orange zest (from l large orange*)
  • 1/4 c. (approx.) toasted, slivered almonds (substitute toasted or oven-roasted almond slices, if you like)
Sticky Rice  (To Serve The Chicken Over)

*Tips
  1. Zest and set aside one of the oranges for the garnish before you separate into segments.
  2. The original recipe called for 1 TB dried, crushed red pepper flakes...Panda Express' orange chicken is rather spicy...so I suggest beginning with the 1 tsp. I recommend and add more if you like.  I think the 1 tsp. I recommended offers a little palatable bite for most.  Naturally, you can omit the red pepper flakes altogether, if you prefer.
  3. When using the honey, spray your cooking utensils with a butter-flavored cooking spray for easy release.

Directions

The Chicken
  1. Pat the chicken breasts with paper towels, and cut into about 1" to 1 1/2" bite-size pieces.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk the eggs well with the milk.  In a separate medium-sized bowl, using a fork or whisk, stir the cornstarch, salt and pepper together.
  3. It's important to follow this order in coating the chicken:  Using tongs, dip the chicken pieces first into the egg mixture, then into the dry mixture.  Dip again into the egg mixture.  Tap off any excess egg or cornstarch mixture as you go.  (This method is supposed to create a batter similar to tempura.)  If the cornstarch mixture gets clumpy, discard and make a fresh mixture.  Set the dipped pieces aside (without touching) on a separate plate, until the oil is heated.  (Dip only enough at a time for a full frying pan.)
  4. Heat approximately 1" of vegetable oil over medium or medium-high in a wok or deep skillet until a drop of cold water pops in the oil.  (I used a wok.)
  5. Without crowding the pan, start frying the chicken pieces.  Fry until lightly browned on both sides...turning with fresh tongs.  Don't over fry.  (Dip more chicken pieces while each pan full fries.*)
  6. As the pieces fry, transfer to a paper towel-lined baking pan or dish and allow to cool.
  7. While the chicken cools, Preheat the oven to 400º and prepare the sauce.

The Orange Sauce
  1. In a 1 qt. saucepan, whisk together the soy sauce, ketchup, honey, orange juice concentrate, white vinegar (optional), chives and red pepper flakes (optional). 
  2. Bring just to a boil, stirring occasionally, then remove from the heat.
Completing The Dish
  1. In a large bowl, toss and thoroughly coat the fried chicken pieces with the glaze.  Arrange in a single layer on a (preferably non-stick) large, rimmed sheet pan, at least 15 1/2" x 10 1/2".
  2. Bake for approx. 15-18 minutes...turn the pieces over after about 10 minutes to completely coat with the glaze.
  3. Prepare The Garnish while the chicken bakes.
  4. Remove the chicken when the glaze is no longer puddled around the pieces, but be careful not to over cook.  The chicken should be sticky and fully coated.
  5. Transfer from the oven to a serving bowl or dish and stir in the orange pieces.
  6. Sprinkle with the remaining garnishes:  the green onion, red pepper flakes to taste (optional), orange zest and slivered almonds.
  7. Serve immediately over sticky rice
  8. Refrigerate leftovers.  Freezes well...freeze in individual portions and reheat on 50% power about 3 minutes.

What...so now they want fortune cookies?  Enjoy! 

Printable Recipe

7 comments:

  1. We love orange chicken but we consider Panda Express fast food, even though it is soooo good. This recipe looks awesome and healthier, love it!

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    1. Well, I wouldn't call it fast...Lol! Glad you like it Matt...enjoy!

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  2. Corn starch always makes for a crispier coating and I always use it for my French toast! Sounds great Bonnie! I was just getting ready to do a ginger dip for chicken and will have to try your coating! Thanks

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    Replies
    1. I'll have to try the cornstarch in some French toast...thanks for tip! Look forward to your ginger dip!

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  3. O.M.G, Bonnie, this is not only right up my alley, but I think I need to orde something close to it from my Chinese take-out because if I don't, I won't stop thinking about it all day! Impending drool..uh oh ;D

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  4. Your orange chicken looks SO good, Bonnie! I think one teaspoon of red pepper flakes would be plenty of heat for my family :)

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  5. Oh my goodness! I love orange chicken but I haven't had it in a very long time. I want to make your version, asap! Thank you for sharing, sweet Bonnie!

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