Spicy Orange Chicken
adapted from Joelen's Culinary Adventures & America's Test Kitchen
Marinade & Sauce:
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces I used chicken breasts
3/4 cup low sodium chicken broth
3/4 cup juice, 1 1/2 teaspoons grated zest and 8 strips orange peel (each about 2" long by 1/2" wide) from 2 oranges
6 tablespoons distilled white vinegar I used 2 tbsp white vinegar & 3 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce I used 1/2 cup low sodium
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
3 medium garlic cloves, minced I used 4 cloves
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons cold water
8 small whole dried red chiles (optional) I didn't have them, but I added red pepper flakes, approximately 1/2 tsp....I like it spicy!
Coating & Frying oil:
3 large egg whites
1 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
3 cups peanut oil
FOR THE MARINADE & SAUCE:
* Place the chicken in a 1-gallon zipper-lock bag; set aside. Combine the chicken broth, orange juice, grated zest, vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, and cayenne in a large saucepan (with at least a 3 quart capacity); whisk until the sugar is fully dissolved. Measure out 3/4 cup of the mixture and pour into the bag with the chicken; press out as much air as possible and seal the bag, making sure that all the pieces are coated with the marinade. Refrigerate 30-60 minutes, but no longer.
* Bring the remaining mixture in the saucepan to a boil over high heat. In a small bowl, stir together the cornstarch and cold water with the cornstarch mixture into the sauce. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until thick and translucent, about 1 minute. Off the heat, stir in the orange peel and chiles, if using (the sauce should measure 1 1/2 cups); set the sauce aside.
FOR THE COATING:
* Place the egg whites in a pie plate, using a fork, beat until frothy. In a second pie plate, which the cornstarch, baking soda and cayenne until combined. Drain the chicken in a colander or large mesh stainer; thoroughly pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Place half of the chicken pieces in the egg whites and turn to coat; transfer the pieces to the cornstarch mixture and coat thoroughly. Place the dredged chicken pieces on a wire rack set over a baking sheet, repeat with the remaining chicken.
TO FRY THE CHICKEN:
* Heat the oil in an 11-to 12-inch dutch oven or straight sided saute pan with at least a 3 quart capacity over high heat until the oil reaches 350 degrees on an instant read or deep fry thermometer. Carefully place half of the chicken in the oil; fry to golden brown, about 5 minutes, turning each piece with tongs halfway through cooking. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Return the oil to 350 degrees and repeat with the remaining chicken.
* Reheat the sauce over medium heat until simmer, about 2 minutes. Add the chicken and gently toss until evenly coated and heated through. Serve immediately.