Thursday, January 21, 2010

Better than takeout

Chinese takeout is not only insanely bad for you (so much salt, oil, possibly MSG, nevermind the portion sizes), it also tends to get a bit pricey if you depend on it often.

Therefore, I bring you this: better than takeout orange chicken with snap peas.

This is a great example of a) reasons to marinate the heck out of your chicken and b) ways to sneak in an extra serving of fruit.

Orange Chicken recipe (exact proportions to come, but here's the general idea)
Marinate chicken pieces in 2 parts soy sauce, 1 part sesame oil, 1 part rice vinegar, (about 1/3 c and scant 1/4 c each), 2-3 crushed cloves garlic, 1 tsp ginger, 1 tsp red chili flakes and the juice of 3 oranges.
About 30 mins before cooking, mix 2-3 TBS corn starch in with the chicken marinade.
Drain the chicken over a saucepan, collecting all of the marinade.
Add to the saucepan similar proportions of soy sauce, sesame oil and vinegar, 3 TBS brown sugar and juice of another orange (or two). Heat 5-8 mins until sauce thickens and reduces by about half.

Heat a teaspoon of oil in a wok. When it shimmers, toss in the chicken and sear quickly. When the chicken begins to turn opaque and crisp, drizzle 3 TBS honey over.
Reduce heat of the wok and mix in the sauce.

Top with toasted sesame seeds and chopped scallions.
Serve with rice or noodles and a vegetable side (I did steamed snap peas with salt, pepper and sesame oil)

Another side project I was up to last weekend was making a big batch of chicken stock for some chicken soup while I was sick with a cold.

Stock is another one of those great things to keep on hand - and now that I've got a real freezer, making big batches is perfect.

First, pull as much meat from two store-bought chickens (you could - of course, roast your own chickens, but hey -- I was sick!!).

Next, toss the bones and skin into a stock pot. I also had a wilting bunch of parsley I tied up and threw in.

Add your aromatics (carrots, celery and onion are traditional. I also put in the dark green parts of some leeks I had left) and fill the pot with water

Put a lid on it, and simmer away. I also added some season salt and a few cloves of garlic for added flavor. Others traditionally use a bay leaf, I think.

After an hour or two or three (or in my case, whenever you wake up from your sick kid nap), strain your stock, freeze half, and enjoy. It's silkier, thicker and more complexly flavored than anything you can buy in a carton or can at the store.

Dreaming? of trying popovers this weekend! Can't wait.


  1. I missed your posts! I know it had only been a week... :)

  2. I’ve been dying to try making chicken stock but have always been too lazy / intimidated. Yours looks so great and your suggestions will be quite useful when I get around to it!

  3. B -
    No internet in my new place yet!! But definitely still cooking!

    A -
    Definitely go for it! You can also use turkey carcass at holiday times, or use other meats. I've made a delicious stock from St. Patrick's Day dinner: boiling the corned beef, then using the same pot to boil the cabbage. Rich, delicious. :)Good luck!!

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