Savor The Earth

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Tangy Texas Tangerine Chicken November 19, 2009

Texas Tangerine, she is all they claim...

We lucky Austinites can purchase Orange Blossom Farms fragrant organic tangerines at both the Austin Farmers Market and Sunset Valley Farmers Market.  Texas citrus season is NOW (although my own mandarin tree, laden in its fourth year with at least 50 fruits, is still transforming green globes into the orange of winter’s gold) and I’m sure you’ve already been enjoying Texas ruby red grapefruit (Rio Star) and the Lone Star state’s sweet juicing oranges.  Grab yourself a $5 bag of Texas tangerines and a pack of chicken legs from one of our local and sustainable operations and whip up some Chinese-style comfort food.

TANGY TEXAS TANGERINE CHICKEN serves several

  • about 1½ pounds chicken leg quarters, separated, or thighs, from local producers at our farmers markets
  • 2 Tablespoons neutral flavored high smoke point oil.  I like Spectrum‘s organic peanut oil available at Whole Foods.
  • 1 large local green onion, finely chopped, white and light green parts separated from the dark green parts.  Hairston Creek Farm has been selling lovely long-leafed scallions.
  • 3 strips of organic Texas tangerine peel, about 3″ long, white pith removed (use a sharp paring knife held parallel to the counter), minced
  • 3 or more dried red Chinese chile peppers
  • ½ teaspoon ground, roasted Szechuan peppercorns.  You can buy these, whole and untoasted, in bulk at Central Market.  Substitute fresh cracked black pepper if necessary.
  • ¼ teaspoon ground dried ginger
  • 1 cup fresh-squeezed organic Texas tangerine juice
  • ½ cup broth, preferably homemade unsalted.  See Stock Tips.
  • ¼ cup bitter (Seville) orange marmalade
  • 2 Tablespoons organic white wine vinegar.  I use Spectrum.
  • 1 Tablespoon turbinado sugar
  • 2 ½ teaspoons organic soy sauce.  I like Eden or San-J.
  • 1 teaspoon organic toasted sesame oil (Spectrum again) or a generous teaspoon of best-quality butter–Organic Valley or Lucky Layla (from Texas)
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 Tablespoon cold broth

Heat up a large heavy skillet over highest heat.  When it’s good and pipin’ hot, add your oil, swirl it around and lay in your chicken pieces, skin side down.  Brown well on both sides, then remove chicken to a plate and set aside.  Pour off all but a Tablespoon or so of the fat in the pan (reserve this flavorful grease for stir-frying tofu or veggies) and put the pan back on the stove at medium-high heat.  Bloom your aromatics—scallion whites, tangerine peel and chiles—in the hot fat for a minute then stir in the powdered spices.  Add the next six ingredients (through the soy sauce), bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes.  Add back the chicken, skin side down, cover and simmer on low heat for about 15 minutes, turning the chicken pieces over once, until the meat tests done.  Remove chicken from the sauce and raise the heat to medium-high.  Stir up a slurry of the cornstarch and cold broth and stir it and the scallion greens into the simmering sauce.  It will thicken right away.  Stir in the sesame oil or butter.

Serve the chicken and sauce with hot Lowell Farms jasmine rice.  You can either set a chicken piece atop a mound of rice and nap it with the sauce or, as is my family’s preference, debone the chicken and mix it into the sauce, to be ladled over the rice.  Don’t forget to save the skin and bones for the stock pot!

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