During the COVID crisis, takeout became the main source of income for the Artichoke Hart restaurant in Baltimore (other than Hart’s CIA income, of course). Simple dishes were both popular, easy and quick to make, and were low cost: perfect for the situation where gourmet-style dishes were required but needed to be simple enough to mass-produce.
Orange Chicken is an Eastern favourite with versions from China, Thailand, India and more. This version is basically a western take on the basic dish which is simple to make and doesn’t cost much.
1 and 1/2 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces and seasoned with salt and pepper. (You can substitute chicken breasts if you prefer, but during the deglazing stage, the sauce from sauteed thighs is much richer)
2 tbsp cornstarch, plus another tbsp for sauce
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp ginger paste (grated ginger is, of course, better if you have fresh)
1 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice (from about 3 oranges)
1 tablespoon orange zest (you’ll use the skin from one full orange for this. A zesting tool is less than $2 at any kitchen store and is worth the expense.)
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 cup diced red bell pepper
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/4 cup white wine
chopped green onion
- Place the cut-up chicken thighs in a large bowl. Add the cornstarch and toss till coated.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, ginger, orange juice, orange zest, and brown sugar. Add 1 teaspoon of cornstarch and whisk until it’s dissolved into the mixture.
- Add the red bell pepper until it starts to soften, about two to three minutes. Remove momentarily.
- In the same pan, pour the wine in and deglaze for a minute or so, scraping the bits from the bottom of the pan to ensure they are floating.
- Add the orange sauce and peppers and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Let the sauce bubble and simmer until it thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. Add the chicken back to the pan and stir to coat in the sauce.
Serve with cooked white rice or sticky rice. Garnish with chopped green onions.