Chicken Stir Fry with Fresh Orange Sauce

I like to prepare everything ahead of time before I start a stir fry. The special ingredient here is orange, which adds a little sweetness without adding granulated sugar. You can vary the veggies based on what you have in the fridge. Just watch the order you cook them—I hate undercooked onions and overcooked broccoli! I like this sauce because it is flavorful but not gloppy (no cornstarch needed!). (Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated.)

¾ pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut in small, even pieces and drained

1½ pounds mixed fresh vegetables, cut into bite-size pieces (I like red/yellow/green peppers, onions, and broccoli, but you can choose whatever is in season, such as spring asparagus or summer green beans)

2 tablespoons chopped scallions, white part only
1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 tablespoon dry sherry or Chinese rice wine
½ teaspoon hot pepper flakes, or to taste
½ teaspoon salt
1 large orange, juiced to yield ¼ cup OJ
2 tablespoons low-sodium chicken broth
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2–4 tablespoons canola oil or peanut oil

Toss the chicken with the sherry, half the pepper flakes, and the salt in a medium bowl and set aside. Combine the OJ, chicken broth, sesame oil, the other half of the pepper flakes, and soy sauce in a small bowl. 

Divide the vegetables into two batches based on how quickly they cook (for example, bell peppers and onions would be in the “cook longer” category, and broccoli and asparagus in the “cook shorter” one.)

Heat a 12- or 14-inch skillet over high heat until it is very hot. Add 1 tablespoon canola oil and rotate pan so that bottom is evenly coated. Let oil heat until it just starts to shimmer and smoke. Drain the chicken and add it to the pan, stir-frying until seared and about three-quarters cooked (2½ to 3 minutes). Spoon the cooked meat or seafood into serving dish. Cover and keep warm.

Let the pan come back up to temperature, 1 to 2 minutes. When it’s hot again, drizzle in 2 teaspoons of canola oil, and when it just starts to smoke, add your “cook longer” veggies. Stir-fry until just tender-crisp, about 2 minutes. Leaving the first batch in pan, add a bit more oil (usually a teaspoon will do) and the remaining veggies, stir-frying until crisp-tender.

Clear center of pan and add garlic, ginger, and scallions. Drizzle with ½ teaspoon of oil and mash into pan with back of a spatula. Cook for 10 seconds. Remove pan from heat and stir garlic/ginger mixture into vegetables for 20 seconds.

Return pan to heat and add cooked chicken. Stir in the OJ mixture and stir-fry to coat all ingredients, about 1 minute. 

Be sure to taste it before you serve!

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