This evening, Gavin and I finished watching Planet Earth. If you haven’t seen it yet by all means try to rent the BBC version narrated by David Attenborough (he does a better job than Sigourney Weaver who narrates the American version on the Discovery Channel). It is an amazing series with stunning photography, amazing cinematography, and it is very entertaining (be sure to watch the Diaries).
In watching Planet Earth I’ve noticed some trends, about 90% of it revolves around food. What the animals eat, how they hunt, how much time they spend hunting, how they work around food shortages. Don’t let this discourage you from seeing it, it’s an amazing series, but it really pulls into focus how important food is: the shark that swims all day seeking one little meal; the polar bear so desperate for a meal he tries to take on a walrus; the little lemurs who eat moths and hibernate most of the year.
Yes, food is important. I’m glad that I have more options than the seals who have to go past the great white sharks to get a meal. I’m luck enough that I can hop in the car and drive over to one of several grocery stores. No sharks, no angry walruses, no enemy gangs of chimps, no need to hibernate all winter (although that was tempting while we were in Boston).
I am also lucky enough to have the internets where I can search for recipes to make food more exciting. Tonight’s new experiment was Sesame Orange Chicken. It turned out really well, a little heavy on the coating, but that’s an easy enough fix. The chicken marinated over night (and there are two more breasts marinating in the freezer), and it tasted really yummy (although Gavin picked off about half the crusting… it was a little thick in spots). I can make it again, it got thumbs up.
4 small boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (6 to 7 oz. each)
1 navel orange
1/2 cup orange marmalade
1/4 cup honey
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp grapeseed oil or peanut oil
1/2 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
1 teaspoon red chili sauce
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
2 cups breadcrumbs
3 Tbsp butter, melted
1/2 cup sesame seeds
1 Heat a small skillet on medium high heat. Add the sesame seeds. Toast sesame seeds until fragrant and lightly browned. Do not turn your back on the seeds while cooking, they can easily and quickly burn. Stir often to keep them from burning. You may hear them pop, and some of them may hop out of the pan while cooking. When lightly browned remove from heat and set aside.
2 Mix melted butter in with the bread crumbs. Heat a large skillet on a medium high, add the bread crumbs, stir often until the bread crumbs get toasty brown. Remove from heat, let cool.
*3 Heat the oven to 450°F. Line a roasting pan with foil. Put a flat baking rack on the lined roasting pan.
4 Use a meat pounder to lightly pound the chicken breasts between two pieces of wax paper to even out the thickness of the breasts.
5 Use a microplane grater to grate the zest from the orange. Place the zest in a large bowl. Cut 4 thin round slices from the center of the orange to use with this recipe. Save the rest of the orange for snacking.
6 Add to the large bowl with the zest, the marmalade, honey, soy sauce, sesame oil, peanut oil, chili sauce and salt. Mix well. Add the chicken to the sauce, coating every piece. You can at this point make ahead by 24 hours and let the chicken marinate, or you can go ahead with the recipe.
7 In a large, shallow dish, mix together the toasted sesame seeds and bread crumbs. Working with the chicken one piece at a time, dredge the chicken in the coating, pressing down on the crumbs to make sure they adhere well. Transfer to the backing rack on the lined roasting pan. Dip the orange slices in the leftover marmalade mix and set on the rack.
*8 Cook at 450°F until the chicken has an internal temperature of 165°F, about 20 minutes. Serve immediately, topped with the orange slices.
*I cooked mine at 350°F for 30 minutes