Recipe: Orange peel chicken #cooking

Orange peel chicken, shrimp, and beef is one of my favorite dishes at P.F. Chang's Chine Bistro. It's the perfect mix of spicy, sweet, savory, crunchy, creamy, and salty and I've been dying to find a way to make this at home. I have tried using the pre-made sauces down the International aisle at Safeway from Panda Express and Wanchai Ferry and, while really good, they just weren't great.

Then, I found it. I was flipping through one of my old copycat cookbooks (More of America's Most Wanted Recipes) one afternoon, trying to find something new to test out and stumbled upon Ron Douglas' version of P.F. Chang's orange peel chicken. I nearly fell off my stool as I read through the ingredients, realizing how simple this dish is, and I went out and bought the ingredients I didn't have that night to test this dish out. Yep, I made this in the middle of the afternoon one day and it was really good but I had to cut back on the amount of jalapeno as it was just too hot to enjoy. I made it two days later with less jalapeno and oh my gosh, y'all, I think I nailed it; this is a fantastic recipe, a near perfect replica, and thus, it's earned a place here on my blog. It's that good.

Recipe: Orange peel chicken
Serves four... or two with amazing leftovers

Ingredients for the sauce (can make a head of time and store in fridge, up to 2 days)
1 T vegetable oil
2 T garlic, minced
4 green onions, thinly sliced (about 1/3 C)
1 8oz can tomato sauce (I use no-salt added)
1/4 C sugar (can also be made with 1/4 C Splenda!)
2 T garlic chili paste
1 T jalapeno pepper, seeds & ribs removed first then, finely minced
1 T soy sauce
Zest of half an orange plus 1 T orange juice (I use a vegetable peeler to remove zest in large sections)

Ingredients for chicken
1/2 C all-purpose flour
1 tsp Kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp paprika
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1.5lbs)
1 T vegetable oil

You'll also need 1-1 1/2 cups of cooked white or brown rice. Because rice takes 20 minutes, I start my water to boil first then, make the sauce and then, the chicken. Once the rice is cooked, I remove it from the heat, leaving the lid on it to keep it warm.

Directions
For the sauce, heat a small sauce pan over medium-low heat, approximately 3 minutes. Add vegetable oil and let heat up 1 minute. Add garlic and green onion and saute, stirring frequently, 2 minutes. Add tomato sauce and bring to a boil. Next add sugar, garlic chili paste, jalapeno, soy sauce, and orange zest, stir to combine. Turn down heat to low and let thicken, uncovered, approximately 6 minutes. Set aside or let cool completely and transfer to tupperware container to store in fridge for up to 2 days.

For the chicken, start by rinsing the chicken in cold water and patting dry with paper towels. Using kitchen shears or a knife, cut each breast into 5 strips (across the shortest part of the breast, not lengthwise) and each strip into 5 bite-sized chunks. In a gallon-sized Ziploc bag, combine the flour, salt, pepper, and paprika. Dump chicken into the bag. Leaving the air IN the bag, zip it shut and toss the bag around until all the chicken is coated. Dump the contents of the bag into a colander to shake off all the excess flour from the chicken; I do this down in my compost bin to make sure no flour gets on my floor! :) Heat a large (12") non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, approximately 3 minutes. Add the vegetable oil and let it heat up 1-2 minutes until it's just starting to smoke. Be sure you turn on your exhaust fan over your range! Gently add in the chicken. Using a spatula or large plastic spoon, saute the chicken, tossing it around the pan and cooking it all over, about 8 minutes, until golden brown. Turn the heat down to medium low and pour sauce over chicken. Toss the chicken around in the sauce, 2-3 minutes until sauce is well heated through and beginning to be absorbed into the chicken's crust. Using tongs, remove the orange zest and serve!

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