Sweet Orange Chicken, Gluten Free

by Jenn on January 5, 2011

in Dairy Free,Gluten Free,Meats,Photography

Sweet Orange Chicken

Bonne année tout le monde!  Happy 2011! I can say that still, because here en Suisse for the entire week it is not uncommon to hear people wishing each other (even strangers on the street) une bonne année.  It seems out of the depths of November and December’s endless gray, rain, and snow, January is welcoming us with *mostly* clear blue Winter skies and sunshine that gives everyone just a little spring in their step.

As we enthusiastically open all the blinds to welcome the warm sunny glow into our home, I take another clementine from the worn wooden fruit bowl on the counter.  I love clementines – the bowl is almost empty as I realize my husband and I have consumed over a kilo of the little bright fruit in just a weekend.  I like that they peel easier than oranges in that I don’t end up with a splattered sticky mess all over the table by the time I’m ready to take my first bite, and I like that they have a little more punch than an orange does.  Each bite of a clementine is like taking in a little piece of bright optimism that gives me a feeling 2011 will be quite the eventful year.

I don’t know all the foods that are supposed to bring luck for the New Year, as we never really had any New Year’s traditions growing up.  I guess I could have made a large bowl of black eyed peas but really, I’m not a big believer in luck either.  I’m a believer in recognizing opportunity.  I think success is often determined by not just hard work, but also the ability to recognize a fortuitous moment to act (or not act) and to be able conduct ourselves appropriately when that instant occurs.  So instead of hoping for luck this year, I want to hope for clarity, for seeing that opportunity.  It’s one thing to have goals, for work, for family, for fun, but it’s another to see when something will help/hinder the realization of those goals.  Clear insightful vision of the roads available to take is a totally separate thing to hope for.


In the spirit of vision, I see color as the symbol of any luck “charm” on my New Year’s plate – the bright orange clementines and green scallions decorating the sweet fried chicken reminded me of our trip to Burano, Italia during our Venezia adventures over the Christmas holiday.  After a 30 minute boat ride over the chilly sea, it was a rather crisp and dreary day (though at least we were not wading in a foot of water like when in Venice proper!) – and yet, the colors of this little island would make even the grounchiest of grinches smile.  I imagined bright fresh fruit as we walked along each of the streets –

Burano Burano

I see lemon, blueberry, plum, melon…. even the umbrellas look cheerful airing out during one of the few dry moments of the week.  Seriously, how could one not feel uplifted wandering around this town?


Strawberry, orange, grape…. The orange building was my favorite.  Orange just seems like the perfect color, projecting warmth and invitation – like a cozy fire you want to sit near when things seem a little too unforgiving outside.  So whether or not orange is indeed traditionally “lucky” for the New Year’s (cause I haven’t a clue), I decided it was the perfect color for my plate.  I celebrated the arrival of 2011 with sweet orange chicken, and snacked on a gazillion of my favorite little clementines in the rare golden Winter sun.

In these still short days of Winter, it’s a good thing to invite a little color into our lives, and our tastebuds :)

Sweet Orange Chicken

Also submitted to – Gluten Free Wednesdays and Seasonal Sunday


Sweet Orange Chicken, Gluten Free

Adapted from Smells Like Home (originally from Cooking with America’s Test Kitchen)
Prep Time: 10 min for chopping veggies
Total Time: 1 hr 30 min

1 1/4 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup sesame oil
1 1/4 cup orange juice
zest of one orange
1/3 cup rice vinegar
1/3 cup tamari (gluten free) or soy sauce
2/3 cup sugar
4 cloves garlic, minced
1.5 tbsp. ginger, grated
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
Everything else:
1 kg. chicken wings (about a dozen)
2 tbsp. cornstarch (or other starch of your choice)
1/4 cup cold water
2 large egg whites
2 cups cornstarch
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 1/2 cups olive oil
clementine segments, sesame seeds and chopped scallions (for garnish)

1.  Add all of the marinade ingredients to a medium saucepan and stir with a whisk until all is incorporated.  Transfer 1.5 cups of the marinade to a large sealable plastic bag and add the chicken wings to the marinade in the bag.  Marinate the chicken in the refrigerator for about an hour.
2. Meanwhile, heat up the rest of the unused marinade (which should be still in the saucepan) on the stove and bring to a simmer.  This will become the sauce. Blend 2 tbsp. cornstarch and cold water together to form a very loose paste, and add this to the sauce.  Keep at a simmer for at least one full minute until the starch dissolves and becomes clear.  Then remove from heat.
3. In a large shallow bowl whisk the egg whites until foamy.  In a second large shallow bowl combine 2 cups cornstarch and cayenne seasoning.  Take the chicken out of the refrigerator and discard the marinade.  Dredge the chicken wings in the egg whites and then the cornstarch and set aside on a separate plate.
4.  In a large pot heat the oil until 350F.  Fry the chicken wings a few at a time about 3 minutes and then flip over and fry about 3 minutes more.  You may need to work in batches depending on the size of your pot.  Also crowding the pot may cause the temperature of the oil to drop which will affect how long you need to fry so that the chicken is fully cooked.  Once cooked, lift out of the oil and drain on a paper towel to remove any excess oil.
5. Serve chicken wings with your favorite steamed rice and drizzle sweet orange sauce on top.


{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

dario @ foodpixels January 5, 2011 at 12:28 am

Ah Burano…. one of my favourite places in Italy, a photographer’s Paradise.
Nice looking chicken, love the flavours of your recipe MUST BE DELICIOUS!


Jenn January 5, 2011 at 12:32 am

Thanks Dario! It’s funny, most of my pics from the trip are some form of B&W, because in Venezia all I saw was texture, even during the flooding. Then we get to Burano and it was just “ahhhh color!!” Photographer’s paradise is an apt name indeed :)


Barbara @ VinoLuciStyle January 5, 2011 at 12:45 am

Sometimes Jenn I have to remember that gluten free doesn’t mean I have to find a bunch of substitutions and I’m glad I checked out this recipe; it’s all ingredients I keep in the house. These wings sound divine (though I’m doing drumsticks); I love the combination with clementines.


Jenn January 5, 2011 at 12:51 am

Thanks Barbara! Yeah the only modification I had to make for GF was to specify gluten free soy sauce – otherwise this recipe started out naturally gluten free. With drumsticks you may need a bit more egg white to do the dredging (just because of more surface area). You also don’t have to fry in olive oil, any veg. oil will do, I just did olive oil cause it’s what I had at the time…


Christine January 5, 2011 at 1:20 am

I love all the colours – of the buildings and of the chicken!


Jenn January 5, 2011 at 8:16 am

Thanks Christine!


Rosa January 5, 2011 at 8:00 am

A delicious dish! I love that flavor combo.

Great pictures!




Jenn January 5, 2011 at 8:17 am

Thanks Rosa! Yeah I’ve been a bag fan of orange anything lately, but this chicken recipe was really good!


InTolerantChef January 5, 2011 at 10:17 am

Oooh, sweet sauce, fried chicken, what’s not to love? I agree with you about luck, it’s all about attitude and opportunity. Happy Colourful New Year to you!


Jenn January 5, 2011 at 8:32 pm

Thanks! Yes I think attitude and opportunity can both go a long way together :)


laxsupermom January 5, 2011 at 4:40 pm

Beautiful pictures! The chicken looks scrumptious. Can’t wait to try it.


Jenn January 5, 2011 at 8:33 pm

Thank you! Hope you enjoy it.


Linda January 5, 2011 at 4:57 pm

We like Clementines for the same reason, and I like the fact that the kids eat more fruit. Your chicken looks delicious, but I don’t combine fruit with meat/poultry too often because it is something my husband generally does not like. Your photos are lovely as always, Jenn.


Jenn January 5, 2011 at 8:34 pm

Thanks Linda – you might like this – and you can add as much or as little sauce on top as each person wants, the orange that comes through from the marinade is actually quite subtle.


Wendy @ Celiacs in the House January 6, 2011 at 2:43 pm

The best part of BlogHer Food this year was the Cuties Clementine booth with clementine cocktails and coupons for free clementines. My favorites. We should have a very lucky year with all those babies we consumed. Beautiful post with an uplifting and positive message to go along with the dose of sunshine in your photos and that chicken. Adding the recipe to my menu next week.


Jenn January 6, 2011 at 6:18 pm

Thanks Wendy! Hope you enjoy it!


St0rmy @LaMaoomba January 6, 2011 at 10:07 pm

This looks delicious and I am glad it is GF. Will be trying it out soon!


Jenn January 6, 2011 at 10:10 pm

Thanks! yeah it took only very minor changes to make GF, very easy!


Biz January 7, 2011 at 5:52 pm

Your pictures, as always, are stunning! 😀

I am going to recreate your orange chicken, except subbing in chicken breast for the wings, my daughter will not eat meat off a bone – crazy! 😀

Have a great weekend!


Jenn January 7, 2011 at 5:56 pm

Thanks!!! If you look back at the version of the recipe on Tara’s blog, I believe she used boneless chicken – You’d have to check back in the original cookbook to be sure but I think that is the original way this recipe was done…


Cristina, from Buenos Aires to Paris January 8, 2011 at 3:03 pm

Great photos!! Inspiring colors, for a creative twist on chicken!


Jenn January 8, 2011 at 3:53 pm

Thank you Cristina! I live for color, it always brings me so much joy :)


Peggy January 8, 2011 at 4:10 pm

What a magnificent and colorful setting! Definitely love this chicken dish, as well!


Jenn January 8, 2011 at 10:43 pm

Thanks so much!


Brittany (Real Sustenance) January 9, 2011 at 5:30 pm

Seriously Jen. You amaze me. Pretty sure Ill be making this tonight!
Thanks for Linking the recipe up to this weeks Seasonal Sunday!!
xo- Brittany


Jenn January 9, 2011 at 8:19 pm

Thanks! I hope you enjoy it!


Selena January 23, 2011 at 2:07 am

JENN! These were AMAZING! I LOVE orange chicken at the Chinese restaurants and the sauce was PERFECT! I cannot wait to make it again! (PS, after I fried each batch of wings, I put them on a cooling rack that set right in a jellyroll pan in my oven. This kept them crispy, drained the oil off and made sure they were completely cooked!)


Jenn January 23, 2011 at 6:42 am

Oh great I’m so glad you liked them! Great idea about keeping them in the oven too!


Lisa October 18, 2011 at 4:33 am

Awesome recipe! Very, very good! I will definitely make this again :)


Jenn October 18, 2011 at 8:43 am

Thanks, I’m so glad you enjoyed it!


Karen Paolini October 18, 2011 at 7:30 pm

My daughter Lisa made this awesome orange chicken for us last night……..YUMM-O!! We can’t wait for another orange chicken night!


Jenn October 19, 2011 at 11:10 pm

Thanks !! It’s become a favorite of mine as well :)


Jenn Parsells December 11, 2011 at 11:44 pm

Hi Jenn – saw your recipe today and thought I’d try it out tonight for dinner. Instead of the chicken wings, I used boneless chicken breast and cut it up into chuncks. This was the closest I’ve come to actually replicating one of my favorite chinese food dishes. Well done!! For some added zing, I’d add red chilies and some scallions. Thanks for the recipe.


Jenn December 12, 2011 at 8:19 am

Thanks so much, glad you enjoyed it!


Chris March 5, 2012 at 8:10 pm

Has anyone tried to oven back the chicken? Just wondering… Recipe looks delish but trying to cut calories….


Jenn March 6, 2012 at 6:45 am

I have not oven baked it, but I am sure you could – just look up some methods for oven fried chicken, I’m sure the flavors would still work well this way :)


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