Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Slow Cooker Orange Chicken

This was one of the first thing I decided I needed to try from Pinterest, but I'm just now getting around to it. Part of it was the fact that the original recipe had you breading and pan-frying the chicken before putting it into the slow cooker. Um, no thanks! I've done this before and the breading never sticks and it's just more to clean up. The one advantage may be that the flour would help thicken the sauce a little bit. I decided to do it my way (no frying) and just add a little corn starch to thicken it.

I used about 2 lbs of chicken breasts cut into bite sized pieces. The sauce was super simple - 6 oz frozen orange juice concentrate (defrosted), 3 Tbsp ketchup, 3 Tbsp brown sugar, 1 tsp balsamic vinegar, 1 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce, and 1 tsp corn starch. Because this was a sort of "trial and error" recipe I didn't do what I normally do, which is throw everything in and just let it go. I put  in the chicken pieces and mixed up the sauce with everything from the OJ to the balsamic in at the very beginning and let it cook on low. After several hours of cooking (probably about 3) I decided to try adding a little corn starch to thicken the sauce. Truthfully I didn't see a ton of difference which could mean that I needed more, but the sauce wasn't unpleasantly thin (at least in my opinion) so next time I will probably not even fool with it. I saved the soy sauce for last, after everything was done cooking (6-7 hours on low). I'm really sensitive to salt (what is normally ok for a lot of people is sometimes too much for me) so I added a little bit at a time at the very end until I found a flavor I liked. I honestly have no idea how cooking changes this since I don't use soy sauce much, but I am guessing it might intensify it some, so just know yourself and your preferences. If in doubt, do like I did and save it for the end. Remember, you can always add more but you can't take it out!

As a personal preference, next time I will also add some red pepper flakes. I like the combination of sweet and spicy, and I think that would really put this over the top. It was good without it, but I would have liked a little bit of kick with it, too.

I served it with fried rice and some steamed broccoli. You could absolutely toss some of your favorite veggies into the pot and let them cook with everything else. I thought about adding some mandarin orange slices, but my hubby gets funny about fruit in his savory food, so opted against it. Maybe next time.

I used the MyFitnessPal recipe builder to figure out exactly how "bad" this is. I guessed there were about six servings, but you may could stretch it even more than that. Using the " six serving" figures it comes out to around 235 calories a serving. Even with my fried rice it was still less than 400 calories for dinner. Not bad.

This would make a great and easy Mama and Baby Love style slow cooker freezer meal. I couldn't find any of the small (6 oz) cans of frozen orange juice concentrate, so I just got the big can and cut it in half while it was frozen and stuck the rest in a freezer bag for later. It would be just as easy to double this recipe and freeze half for later (or freeze both bags for later during a big prep/cooking day!)

Give it a try and let me know what you think! (And yes, I know I'm a blogging slacker because I didn't get a picture. Next time, I promise I will get one and come back to post it!)

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