Orange Chicken: Forget takeout

dinner for $12 or less

January 07, 2009|By Kate Shatzkin | Kate Shatzkin,

The economy is so bad that even pretty cheap Chinese takeout food has become a luxury. This adaptation of a recipe from Fine Cooking's latest annual cookbook lets you make a great version of Orange Chicken at home. You'll save money by buying a bulk package of bone-in chicken thighs and removing the skin yourself.


Orange : 89 cents

Soy sauce: 20 cents

Rice vinegar: 20 cents

Brown sugar: 7 cents

Red-pepper flakes : 15 cents

Chicken thighs: $3.18

Eggs: 37 cents

Cornstarch: 21 cents

Canola oil: 32 cents

Scallions: 89 cents

Rice: 25 cents

TOTAL*: $6.73

*Prices are calculated based on the amount used in the recipe.


(serves 4)

1 large navel orange

1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 tablespoon light-brown sugar

1/8 teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes

2 pounds chicken thighs or boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes (skin removed)

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste

2 extra-large egg whites

1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon cornstarch

4 tablespoons canola or peanut oil

1 bunch scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced (keep whites and greens separate)

2 cups cooked white or brown rice

Using a vegetable peeler, shave the zest from the orange in long, wide strips. If necessary, remove any large patches of bitter white pith from the zest strips with a paring knife. Set aside zest strips. Juice the orange into a small bowl and mix with the soy sauce, rice vinegar, brown sugar and red-pepper flakes.

Sprinkle the chicken with the salt. In a mini chopper or food processor, process the egg whites, cornstarch and a pinch of salt until smooth. In a medium bowl, toss the chicken with the cornstarch batter.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet or large stir-fry pan over medium-high heat until shimmering hot. Using tongs, transfer about half the chicken to the pan.

Reduce the heat to medium and cook, flipping every minute or so, until the chicken browns and crisps all over and is firm to the touch, 3 to 4 minutes.

With clean tongs, transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate. Add the remaining oil to the skillet and repeat the cooking process with the remaining chicken; transfer to the plate.

Put the orange zest strips in the skillet and cook, stirring, until they darken in spots, 15 to 30 seconds. Stir the orange-juice mixture and add it to the pan. Let it boil for about 10 seconds and then add the chicken and the scallion whites.

Cook, stirring often, until the sauce reduces to a glaze and the chicken is just cooked through - check by cutting into a thicker piece - 1 to 2 minutes.

If the chicken isn't cooked through but the glaze is cooking away, add a couple of tablespoons of water and continue cooking. Serve over rice, sprinkled with the scallion greens.

Adapted from "Fine Cooking Annual, Vol. 3," by the editors and contributors of "Fine Cooking"

Per serving: :: 614 calories, 39 grams protein, 31 grams fat, 6 grams saturated fat, 44 grams carbohydrate, 3 grams fiber, 237 milligrams cholesterol, 1,013 milligrams sodium

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