11 February 2018
Recipe from Cook's Illustrated, Mary 2006
You've probably had orange-flavored chicken. It is a staple at casual Chinese restaurants, places like those you find the food court in the mall. Crispy bits of chicken served in a pungent, orange-flavored sauce is popular, it has an undeniable appeal. So why not try it at home? Especially with a recipe that does not require deep frying.
Preparing the dish is straightforward. A sauce/marinade is made by combining chicken broth, orange juice, orange zest, strips of orange peel, distilled vinegar, soy sauce, dark brown sugar, garlic, grated fresh ginger, and cayenne pepper. Some of the liquid is used to marinade 1½-pounds of boneless, skinless chicken thighs cut into 1½-inch pieces. The rest is brought to a boil then thickened with a cornstarch slurry. The chicken pieces are coated with lightly beaten egg white followed with a flour/cornstarch mixture. These are then cooked on a rimmed baking sheet in ½-cup oil in a 500° oven, turning the chicken over half way though cooking. Making this dish took just under two hours.
The method for coating the chicken worked very well, the chicken was evenly coated and easy to handle. However, the chicken pieces cooked unevenly on the baking sheet, though all came out nicely crispy. The small amount of oil was not enough to evenly coat the baking sheet and it generated a lot of smoke, setting off the smoke alarm. The dish is okay but not great. The flavor of the sauce/marinade is dominated by the grated ginger which largely overpowers the flavor of the other ingredients. All in all this is probably not a dish I would make again.