What: Sesame-Crusted Orange Chicken Salad
Where: Family Table
Who: Shaye Elliott
This salad is truly a worthy go-to. It is luscious and fresh and satisfying.
That being said, when first I made it, I expected orange. It was there, but it was very subtle. So I make some alterations in my own practice of this recipe to help intensify the orange flavor.
Based on Elliott’s list of ingredients, you will need three oranges – one for the chicken, and two for the dressing. She calls for you to add the zest to the coating mixture of the chicken. But it became evident that, once coated, the pungent but delicate orange zest on the chicken gets destroyed by the heat of the pan during cooking. She also has you doing nothing with the flesh of this orange. To remedy these two things, I juice the orange after zesting it and marinate the chicken in the orange zest, orange juice, salt, and pepper for a few hours or overnight. This helps to infuse the chicken with orange.
Elliott also does not specify the amount of salt for the chicken, so I specified it at 1.5 teaspoons. To the marinating mixture, I also add 1 teaspoon of garlic powder and 1 teaspoon onion powder. These savories nicely highlight and add base to the sweet and bright flavors of the orange.
Lastly, I like to make a larger quantity of the orange dressing to keep all week in the fridge. To her ingredient list, I added 1/3 cup of apple cider vinegar (which, incidentally also helps increase the tangy brightness of the dressing), 1 teaspoon salt, 2 teaspoons dry mustard (or if you only have regular mustard, 2 tablespoons), 1/4 cup onion, and I increased the honey to 2 tablespoons (or you can use xylitol or lakanto) and the ginger to 1-inch. All of these additions give the dressing a wonderful depth of flavor that supports the boldness of the salad as a whole. I threw these ingredients in my Vitamix, blended till smooth, then with the motor on low, slowly poured in 2-3 cups of olive oil. You will know it’s enough when the liquid stops spinning even while the motor runs, and the dressing looks creamy thick.
You will see that here I added avocado and pomegranate seeds to the salad, and omitted the feta. For perfect orangey-ness, buy an extra orange or two and slice them for serving on the salad itself.