I have never been a fan of deep frying at home, although after tasting this dish, I may be a convert. The chicken was light, perfectly cooked, and didn’t taste at all greasy. The sauce was pungent with orange and chili, and not too sweet. Hubs had a slightly glazed look as he ate, as if in a euphoric food stupor. Guess we may branch out in our deep frying ventures.
adapted from Cooks Illustrated
1 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1 1/2 inch chunks
3/4 c low sodium chicken broth
3/4 c orange juice
1 1/2 tsp grated orange zest, plus 8 2-inch strips of peel
6 Tbs white vinegar
1/4 c soy sauce
1/2 c packed dark brown sugar
3 cloves garlic, minced
1-inch piece of fresh ginger, grated
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 Tbs plus 2 tsp corn starch
2 Tbs cold water
4 small whole dried red chiles, or 1 tsp dried chili flakes (optional)
3 large egg whites
1 c cornstarch
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp baking soda
3 c peanut oil
Place chicken in a 1 gallon resealable bag. Combine broth, orange juice, zest, vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, garlic, ginger, and cayenne in a large saucepan. Whisk until sugar is fully dissolved. Measure out 3/4 c of the mixture and pour into the bag with the chicken. Press out as much air as possible and seal bag. Chill for 30-60 minutes, but no longer.
Bring remaining mixture to a boil over high heat. In a small bowl, stir together cornstarch and cold water. Whisk cornstarch mixture into sauce. Simmer sauce, stirring occasionally, until thick and translucent, about 1 minute. Remove from heat. Stir in orange peel and chiles. Set aside.
Place egg whites in a shallow dish. Using a fork, beat until frothy. In a second dish, mix the cornstarch, cayenne, and baking soda until combined. Drain chicken in a colander; pat dry. Place half of chicken in the egg whites, coating completely. Transfer pieces to cornstarch mixture and coat thoroughly. Place dredged chicken pieces on a wire rack set over baking sheet; repeat with remaining chicken.
Heat oil in a dutch oven or a straight sided saute pan over high heat until the oil registers 350 degrees. Carefully place chicken in oil. Fry in 2 batches until golden brown, about 5 minutes, turning pieces halfway through cooking. Transfer chicken to a large plate lined with paper towels. Let oil return to 350 degrees between batches.
Reheat sauce over medium heat until simmering, about 2 minutes. Add chicken and gently toss to coat. Serve immediately.