Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Spicy Orange Chicken

Would you believe that it is a few days since Valentine’s Day and already I’m chocolated out? I am in dire need of relief from sweets. A blast of citrus seemed the answer. I’m not normally a big fan of citrus. I have never eaten an entire orange. A few sections full of strings and seeds was enough to turn me off. I drink orange juice, though. Ditto lemons. I don’t care for lemon on my seafood but I love lemonade in the summer.

This recipe made me pause. At first glance, I couldn’t reconcile chicken and orange flavors. But when I took a closer look, I realized that the orange was just a component of the Asian seasonings. I needed an antidote for sweets that was also low fat and low calorie. Spicy Orange Chicken filled the bill nicely.

I love that all of the ingredients are fresh. The recipe calls for two oranges rather than orange extract or orange juice. The spinach is loaded with nutrients like iron and calcium. I have to admit that I skipped the spinach and served this on rice. I’ll also confess to using dried ginger rather than fresh. I didn’t have any fresh ginger on hand.

Lucky for me, oranges were on sale and I bought an entire bag of them. I don’t know if the ones I bought were particularly small or the arthritis in my hands robbed me of the strength to properly squeeze them, but I used two oranges, rather than the one called for in the recipe, to come up with ⅓ cup of juice.

Despite the fact that the directions seem long and complicated, this was a fast and easy dish to prepare. The tangy citrus flavor was exactly what I needed to counterbalance all of the chocolate I have been consuming. I liked this so much, in fact, that I want to try the sauce in a stir fry. I bet it would be excellent.

Verdict: Yum!! This one’s a keeper!!

Spicy Orange Chicken

2 oranges
1 tablespoon cooking oil
2 10-ounce packages baby spinach
1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
½ teaspoon cornstarch
⅛ to ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast strips
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced

Remove peel and white membrane from 1 of the oranges. Section orange; set aside. Squeeze enough juice from the remaining orange to measure ⅓ cup; set aside. In a 4-quart Dutch oven, heat 1 teaspoon of the oil over medium heat. Add spinach; cover and cook for 4 to 5 minutes or just until slightly wilted, stirring occasionally. Drain and transfer to 4 serving dishes or a serving platter. Cover and keep warm.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the ⅓ cup orange juice, the soy sauce, honey, ginger, cornstarch, and crushed red pepper. Set aside.

Sprinkle chicken with salt and black pepper. Wipe out Dutch oven with a paper towel. In Dutch oven, heat the remaining 2 teaspoons oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic; cook and stir for 30 seconds. Add chicken; cook and stir for 2 to 3 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink. Stir orange juice mixture; add to chicken in Dutch oven. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir for 1 minute more.

To serve, arrange orange sections on top of spinach. Spoon chicken mixture over oranges and spinach. Makes 4 servings.

Recycle: cooking oil bottle, soy sauce bottle

Compost: orange peels, garlic skins

No comments: