Next Level Weekend (Part II): Spicy Orange Chicken & Asparagus

After a successful and well planned Saturday, I was sitting around the apartment on Sunday afternoon trying to decide what I would have in store for dinner this time around. I knew I was going to make a vamped up side dish of asparagus that stretched well-beyond the flavor profile of my usual olive oil and garlic. But, what was I going to do for the main dish?

I bought some chicken breasts at the grocery store the day before without any intention on the recipe that would follow, but thankfully, my pantry and fridge were chock-full of the necessities and then some, so I wasn't too worried. Once again, I headed over to Food52.com to get some ideas.

After nothing more than a simple search for "chicken breasts," the recipes rolled in and I landed on one that I had all but one ingredient for, so my fate had been decided. Once again, the recipes below are pulled directly from Food 52 and the direct links have been provided.

Spicy Orange-Ginger Chicken

Original recipe source

Ingredients

1 1/4 cups orange juice (preferably fresh)
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
3 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
2 tablespoons minced fresh garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons sriracha (or more to taste)
1 1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 teaspoons light brown sugar
2 teaspoons orange zest
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 1/4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into thin strips
1 tablespoon cornstarch
Brown rice, white rice or quinoa for serving (I paired my dish with leftover cheese tortellini)
1/4 cup sliced green onions

Absurdly Addictive Asparagus

Original recipe source

Ingredients

4 ounces pancetta, cut into 3/8 inch to 1/4 inch dice
1 tablespoon butter
1 pound asparagus, woody ends trimmed and sliced into 2 inch pieces on the bias
1 1/4 cups leek, thinly sliced crosswise (white and pale green parts only)
2 cloves garlic, minced
Zest of one lemon
1 teaspoon orange zest (given the orange chicken, I opted out)
2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
1-2 tablespoons Italian parsley, chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

As you might have noticed, the chicken is already in the marinade at this point and there are some ingredients missing from this picture. I forgot about documenting my progress at first.

As you might have noticed, the chicken is already in the marinade at this point and there are some ingredients missing from this picture. I forgot about documenting my progress at first.

In small bowl, whisk together orange juice, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, 1 tablespoon oil, Sriracha, vinegar, brown sugar, orange zest, and pepper. Place chicken in a large Ziploc bag; pour 1/3 cup marinade over chicken. Seal bag and marinate in refrigerator 1 hour.

Marinated and ready to go on the pan.

Marinated and ready to go on the pan.

Remove chicken from marinade; discard marinade. Heat large skillet or wok over high heat. Add remaining oil. In 2 batches, add chicken and cook each batch 5 to 6 minutes or until chicken is golden brown and has lost its pink color throughout, stirring frequently. Remove chicken from pan.

The high heat made for quick cooking. As long as your strips are thin enough, this shouldn't take more than 2-3 minutes.

The high heat made for quick cooking. As long as your strips are thin enough, this shouldn't take more than 2-3 minutes.

Reduce heat to medium-high; add remaining marinade to skillet; heat to boiling. In small bowl, whisk together cornstarch and 1 tablespoon water; whisk into marinade, and boil 1 minute. Return chicken to skillet; cook 1 minute or until heated through. Serve over rice or quinoa, sprinkled with green onions.

The marinade will boil immediately. This is the first time I have worked fast enough with corn starch to make sure it didn't turn into a paste before getting mixed in. This could have been the deal breaker.

The marinade will boil immediately. This is the first time I have worked fast enough with corn starch to make sure it didn't turn into a paste before getting mixed in. This could have been the deal breaker.

Mmmm, let that chicken bathe...

Mmmm, let that chicken bathe...

...don't forget to get all sides

...don't forget to get all sides

Time for some asparagus and tortellini...

Time for some asparagus and tortellini...

In a large non-stick pan, sauté pancetta, stirring frequently, over medium heat, until crisp and lightly golden.

First time using pancetta, but let's be honest, who needs to be convinced that pork belly will be anything but delicious?

First time using pancetta, but let's be honest, who needs to be convinced that pork belly will be anything but delicious?

Add 1 tablespoon of butter to pan. Add asparagus pieces and leek and sauté until asparagus is tender crisp, about 3-4 minutes.

Asparagus is one of those vegetables I would always hesitate to touch; now it's a side staple

Asparagus is one of those vegetables I would always hesitate to touch; now it's a side staple

Add garlic, lemon and orange zest, toasted pine nuts and parsley and sauté for about 1 minute, until fragrant. Season to taste with freshly ground pepper and salt and serve immediately.

Oh, baby.

Oh, baby.

This was so tasty and made enough for lunch the next day!

This was so tasty and made enough for lunch the next day!


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