One of my favorite things to get at a chinese restaurant (when I can tear myself away from the kung pao scallops) is orange chicken. I love how the tangy sweetness of the orange sauce combines with the savory chicken and rice. Of course, the chicken is breaded and deep fried, and the rice is also fried. Or at the very least, white. Some Chinese restaurants are offering brown rice now, which I always appreciate. I actually prefer the taste, and it's much healthier.
I wanted to use my slow cooker to make orange chicken, but didn't want to spend the time or the fat grams frying the chicken pieces first. That makes this version much healthier than the usual restaurant fare, but I liked it just as much. The ginger adds a nice subtle flavor.
My husband was sure he was NOT going to like this dish, but when he walked into the house after work, he had to admit it smelled amazing. He gobbled it right down, and even said, "Of all the chicken and rice dishes you have made, this one is the most flavorful." The only adjustment I made is that my youngest, Will, hates lettuce with a passion. I just scooped some rice and meat mixture into a bowl for him, and he was good to go! You could stir-fry some frozen Chinese veggies to go with this dish while the rice is cooking if you like. It would also make a nice appetizer for a party, since the Romaine leaves make it semi-portable. Enjoy!
Slow cooker orange-ginger chicken
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (you can use breasts if you prefer)
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup orange juice
4 tsp. soy sauce
4 tsp. ginger, freshly grated or from a jar
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 orange (zest and fruit)
3 scallions, sliced
Place whole chicken thighs into a greased 5- to 6-quart slow cooker. In a medium bowl, combine the brown sugar, vinegar, juice, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, red pepper flakes, and the zest of one orange. Whisk to combine and pour over meat in slow cooker, turning to coat. Cover and cook until the chicken is completely cooked through and tender, 3 to 4 hours on high or 6 to 7 hours on low.
In a separate pan, make rice on the stovetop. Instead of using water, use juice from the slow cooker.
While the rice is cooking, remove chicken pieces to a cutting board and shred into bite-sized pieces. Return to slow cooker. Cut orange segments into bite-sized pieces and fold into the mixture, along with scallions.
To serve, scoop rice onto the end of a piece of Romaine lettuce. Top with meat mixture and drizzle with sauce.