We prefer the flavor and texture of thigh meat for this recipe, though an equal amount of boneless, skinless chicken breasts can be used. It is easiest to grate the orange zest and remove the strips of orange peel before juicing the oranges; use a sharp vegetable peeler to remove the strips. For extra spiciness, increase the cayenne added to the sauce to 1/2 teaspoon. The whole dried chiles are added for appearance, not for flavor, and can be omitted. White rice and steamed broccoli are good accompaniments.
Marinade and Sauce
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs , trimmed and cut in 1 1/2-inch pieces
3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
3/4 cup orange juice , plus 1 1/2 teaspoons grated zest, and 8 strips orange peel (each about 2 inches long by 1/2 inch wide) from 2 oranges
6 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar (3 1/2 ounces)
3 medium cloves garlic , minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1 tablespoon)
Forget about takeout. Homemade orange chicken is much better.
1. FOR THE MARINADE AND SAUCE: Place chicken in 1-gallon zipper-lock bag; set aside. Combine chicken broth, orange juice, grated zest, vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, garlic, ginger, and cayenne in large saucepan (with at least 3-quart capacity); whisk until sugar is fully dissolved. Measure out 3/4 cup mixture and pour into bag with chicken; press out as much air as possible and seal bag, making sure that all pieces are coated with marinade. Refrigerate at least 30 but no more than 60 minutes.
2. Bring remaining mixture to boil in saucepan over high heat. In small bowl, stir together cornstarch and cold water; whisk cornstarch mixture into sauce. Simmer sauce, stirring occasionally, until thick and translucent, about 1 minute. Off heat, stir in orange peel and chiles (sauce should measure 1 1/2 cups); set sauce aside.
3. FOR THE COATING: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 500 degrees. Place egg whites in pie plate; using fork, beat until frothy. In second pie plate, whisk cornstarch and flour until combined. Drain chicken in colander or large mesh strainer; thoroughly pat chicken dry with paper towels. Place chicken pieces in egg whites and turn to coat, then strain again until egg mixture has drained away; transfer pieces to cornstarch mixture and coat thoroughly, then gently pat to allow excess cornstarch mixture to fall off, leaving a thin layer. Place dredged chicken pieces on plate.
4. TO COOK THE CHICKEN: Heat rimmed baking sheet in oven for five minutes. Add oil and return baking sheet to oven until oil is just smoking, about 5 minutes. Add chicken pieces, evenly spaced in single layer, and cook 10 minutes. Remove baking sheet from oven, turn chicken, and cook on second side until light brown and crisp, about 10 minutes. Transfer chicken to paper towel to drain excess oil.
5. TO SERVE: Reheat sauce over medium heat until simmering, about 2 minutes. Add chicken and gently toss until evenly coated and heated through. Serve immediately.
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