Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Slow Cooker Orange Chicken

Hello, everyone!  Wow, what a gray, cold, wintry day we have today, isn't it?  These are the perfect days to toss some supper into the slow cooker, hunker down on the couch with some blankets, and come back a few hours later to a hot and ready supper!
One of my favorite chicken dishes is orange chicken.  This is super easy, and fairly healthy, since I skip the step of frying the chicken first.  This truly is a meal of "toss it in and go", and, since the chicken is cut up into bite-sized pieces, it cooks up pretty quickly!
I love pairing a bright citrus with chicken - chicken is really, so versatile that it just soaks up whatever flavor you pair it with, and the end result is that you look like a genius!  What's better than that?  A delicious supper, and you look like an amazing cook?  That's a win-win!
The sauce for this chicken also works as a lovely marinade for the chicken, if you really want to amp up the flavor of this orange chicken, which is what I usually do, but I forgot to this time around, so the chicken was still tasty, but didn't have that pop of orange flavor that I love with orange chicken.  Sometimes, you just plain forget.  It happens, right?

Here's your grocery list for this one:
1 inch of fresh ginger, peeled
3 Tbs brown sugar
1 tsp Kosher salt
3 cloves garlic
1/4 C cornstarch
2 Tbs ketchup
2 Tbs rice vinegar 
1 C orange juice
2-3 pounds of chicken breast, cut up into bite sized pieces
1-2 Tbs sesame seeds

If you're unused to working with fresh ginger, there is a paper thin skin that needs to be peeled off, before using it.  I use a spoon, and gently scrape the skin off, and this works like a charm.  The skin comes off with zero effort.  

You can either mince the ginger finely, or just use a microplane and grate the ginger into a mixing bowl.  Since you have your microplane out (or knife and cutting board), go ahead and do the same with your garlic cloves; since I used the microplane, I just grated up the garlic along with my ginger.

Like always, don't forget the goodies on the underside!
Now, lets get together the dry ingredients!  Add in the brown sugar, salt, and cornstarch, and whisk until combined.

Add in your ketchup and rice vinegar, and again, mix well.  Once those have been incorporated, mix in the orange juice.

Now that your sauce has been combined, put all of your chicken into the slow cooker.  I like to cut my chicken up into large bite sizes, because as it cooks, it will shrink down a bit.  Pour the sauce over your chicken, put the lid on, and cook over low heat for 6-8 hours, or high heat for 3-4 hours.

You can easily just turn this on and leave it, but I like to give it a stir about half way through, to make sure that the chicken is getting well coated in the sauce.  It doesn't look like much right now, but it'll get there!

About an hour or so before it's finished, I like to crank my slow cooker up to high.  This will bring the sauce up to a boil, which is what the cornstarch needs, to thicken up.  I like my sauce on the thicker side, so this works well for me, but if you prefer a thinner sauce, feel free to leave it on low.  You can see, on the edges of the slow cooker, where the sauce is starting to thicken up.

As a finishing touch, if you'd like to, add in the sesame seeds, and stir well!  I like to serve mine with rice and broccoli, but let your imagination go wild!