They’re something satisfying about knowing what I am going to make for dinner as I sit at my desk working or if I’m off carrying on with my day somewhere. Admittedly there are many days when that’s not the case and I’ve waited long into the afternoon to think about it. Then just the thought of going to the grocery store is too much. That’s when take out food starts to look appealing as a dinner option, but it’s usually not my first choice.
Grilled Orange Chicken Skewers is a feel good recipe. Part of it can be made ahead, it’s simple enough for a weekday meal and yet I’d serve it to guests. It’s inspired by a classical battered and fried orange chicken recipe from Cook’s magazine I’ve been making for many years. The liquid ingredients do twice the work with just half the effort as some of it is used for marinating the chicken and the remainder for the sauce. Orange zest (make sure you use just the top layer of the orange skin and not the white more bitter tasting layer underneath) provides aromatic orange citrus flavor for the marinating chicken and the drizzle sauce with some help from finely chopped fresh ginger and garlic. I’m slightly partial to chicken thigh meat over breast meat for its tendency for richer flavor and moister texture – especially when grilled in small chunks like this – but either can successfully be used, remembering the breast meat takes less time to cook.
Soaking the wooden skewers submerged in water for at least 30 minutes before skewering and grilling the chicken will mean less tendency for them to burn on the grill. And if you are not familiar with working with cornstarch, it is used as a quick thickener for a sauce. It needs to be mixed with a little cold water to make a “slurry” before whisking it into the hot liquid.
Once grilled, transfer the skewers to a serving platter and drizzle on the orange sauce. Cooked rice also makes a nice bed for the skewers and will catch any extra sauce.
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1 cup orange juice
- ⅓ cup soy sauce
- ⅓ cup rice vinegar
- ⅓ cup lightly packed brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon orange zest
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic (1 large clove)
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger (1 inch piece)
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 2 lb boneless, skinless chicken thigh or breast, cut into 1-1/2 inch pieces
- 2-1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 3 tablespoons water
- Soak 8 wooden skewers (about 8 to 10 inches in length) in water at least 30 minutes before grilling.
- Whisk together chicken broth, orange juice, soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, orange zest, garlic, ginger and red pepper. Measure 1-3/4 cups and set aside. Put chicken in a re-sealable plastic bag and pour in remaining marinade, turning to coat chicken; marinate in the refrigerator 1 to 4 hours (because the chicken is cut into small pieces it does not need a long marinating time).
- For the sauce, in a small bowl whisk together cornstarch and water until smooth. Transfer the set aside marinade to a saucepan and bring to a boil; reduce heat and whisk in cornstarch mixture; cook over low heat until thickened and clear, about 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
- Remove chicken from marinade, discarding marinade. Thread chicken on skewers.
- Preheat grill to medium heat. Grill skewers just until chicken is cooked through turning a few times during cooking, about 10 minutes.
- Serve skewers drizzled with orange sauce.