Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Orange Glazed Chicken with Pecans and Carmelized Onions

I think restaurants are getting away from this practice, but awhile ago, "upscale" dining sometimes meant a menu with a paragraph written about each dish.  We had to be told the origin of each ingredient ("zillion year old sea salt from Tasmania") and everything was served on a "bed" of something.  Some things were stacked so high the meal was more like an archaeological dig as one made their way through the layers.  Of course, many of these dishes were very tasty, and for that I'm certainly not complaining!  Still, writing a complete description of a dish kind of gives it a big build-up and not as many restaurants are as skilled at cooking their dishes as they are in describing them!  
I hope you don't think that's the case here, despite the long title!  Actually, this is a simple, weeknight type of dish that comes together quickly and tastes fresh, light and good!   I served the chicken with brown rice and spinach sauteed with a little garlic and olive oil, so it was rather healthy too!
Orange Glazed Chicken with Pecans and Carmelized Onions (serves two or three)
2 large chicken breast halves
4 tsp. olive oil
salt and pepper
1 small garlic clove, minced
1/2 large onion, sliced
juice of 2 oranges
zest of 1 orange
1.5 tsp. cornstarch
1/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans

Mix the orange juice and 1/2 of the zest with the cornstarch in a small bowl.  Stir with a fork until smooth.  Set aside.
Cut the chicken breasts in half crosswise; then split the thick side lengthwise.  Each breast half will yield three pieces, so you'll have six in all.  Dry the pieces well with paper towels.  Pour 2 tsp. olive oil over them on a plate and turn them around in the oil.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Brown the chicken pieces well in a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.  They don't have to cook all the way through at this point.  Remove them to a plate.
Put the other 2 tsp. olive oil in the skillet and add the onions and garlic.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Saute the onions and garlic over medium heat until they brown nicely.  You can hurry them along-- it's not going to hurt anything as long as you don't burn them.
Add the chicken and any juices back to the pan.  Add 1/4 cup water.  Cover and simmer for 10 minutes or so, until the chicken is cooked and the onions are soft.  Remove the chicken to a serving plate and keep warm.  Add the cornstarch-orange juice-zest mixture.  Cook and stir until it boils and becomes thickened.  Add the pecans and stir to coat them.  Pour over the chicken.  Sprinkle with the remaining orange zest and serve!

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