Thursday, March 10, 2011

Orange brown sugar chicken

...I stayed in and made my very own orange brown sugar chicken!  Check it out.  Sweet and tangy, smelling so fresh it's like the oranges were picked right from a tree in my backyard.

Doesn't this look better than something you'd eat out of a white styrofoam container that would run you at least $10 at the local Chinese food joint?  Absolutely!  But you won't catch me forking over money for that.  I don't have exact numbers for you, but the chicken (half of a one-pound package) cost about $2, one cup of broccoli from a $2 two-pound bag of the frozen stuff, a $0.25 orange, and a cup of rice is what, $0.25?  Being extra generous, that's $3.50 for two full meals.  If it sounds like I threw my arms up in victory at that realization, well, that sounds right!

I can almost see why folks who live alone tend to order lots of pre-made food.  It's quick and convenient after a long day at work or school.  And on dreary nights like the last, it's tempting to pick up something labored over by someone else, only to be enjoyed by yours truly.  But it's also unreasonably expensive, greasy, and loaded with mystery ingredients that only the cook himself would know.  I don't know about you but I like to know what goes into my food and my body, thankyouverymuch.

Plus, I have a rule about dining at restaurants -- I like to order things that I can't or won't make on my own (i.e. ravioli, exotic meats, eggs Benedict).  What about orange chicken isn't doable in your very own kitchen?  Absolutely nothing.  In 30 minutes, I was in my happy place (the kitchen) and had a gorgeous and sweet-smelling so-much-better-than-take-out dinner waiting for me and only me.

The list of ingredients is short and the prep is minimal.  I'm not exaggerating when I say there are so many parts of this cooking process that made me want to dance around my apartment.  For instance, the magazine-worthy golden color of the chicken when it's browning... take that, Top Chef!

But nothing tops the deglazing of the pan with orange juice... I just love the sound of sizzling accompanied by the fresh citrus smell.  Finally, the flecks of orange zest mixed with the sweet brown sugar on top of the chicken -- hello, five star restaurant!

Another great dinner for one (ish) on a rainy night in the steel city.  So far, I'm four for four.  To be honest, I'm a little disappointed that I'll have to wait until Friday to enjoy the remainder of this for lunch though I'm excited about the why -- I'm taking a personal day today to enjoy a little Pittsburgh stay-cation.  (The jury's still out on the use of that word, but it fits for now.)  Some museums, shopping, and, of course, epic local food on a very typical rainy day.  I'll report on that tomorrow.  For now, it's time for me to put on my rain boots and for you to vote for the Irish food you'd most like to see featured next week.  Have a good one!

One Year Ago: Martha's macaroni & cheese (the best I've ever had!)

Orange Brown Sugar Chicken
-serves 2

A few notes: I opted to serve this with brown rice and steamed broccoli to (somewhat) mimic what Chinese takeout might be like.  Couscous would be a great grain to use as well.  Finally, yes this recipe states that it serves 2... hey, a girl's gotta eat lunch, too.  Package this and reheat the next day for a satisfying leftover take-in meal.

2 chicken breasts (4-6 ounces each)
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon olive oil
Juice of 1 orange
1 Tablespoon orange zest
1 Tablespoon brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350F.  Using a meat mallet or rolling pin, pound chicken breasts thin and pat dry.   In a small bowl, whisk together flour, paprika, and salt.

Heat oil in large skillet over medium high heat.  Dredge chicken breasts in flour to coat and place in skillet.  Cook chicken until just golden brown on each side (about 4 minutes) and transfer to small baking dish.

Pour orange juice into skillet (listen to that sizzle!) and stir to deglaze.  Remove from heat and pour juice over chicken breasts.  Top each piece of chicken with orange zest and brown sugar.  Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes.  Serve and enjoy the lick-your-lips sweetness of homemade orange chicken.


  1. I'm trying this tonight and will let you know how it goes.

  2. Everyone HAS to make this dish. It's easy and oh so delicious. Lar was very impressed!

  3. I'm so glad both of you liked it!!

  4. This is something Drew would really enjoy! No meat for me today but over the weekend we can definitely give it a try. What do you think about using Quinoa instead of rice?

  5. Eeo -- Quinoa would work well! Truthfully, any grain is suitable. Just something fluffy to absorb all of the delicious orange juice run-off :)