Orange and a blend of spicy red pepper is one of my favorite flavor combinations to prepare chicken with. The sweetness and acid of the orange balances the heat and punch of the red pepper, creating a a marinade that is kind of like a spicy margarita, with equal parts sweetness, spice, and salt. This dish of spicy orange chicken, blistered corn and green peppers, and flat fries with spicy orange aioli incorporates that flavor combo into a meal complete with a bounty of summer vegetables. This is a very forgiving recipe, as it can be made in a variety of vessels, grilled, roasted or seared in a pan, but the flavors are the consistent stars.
The key is to marinate the chicken for a few hours before cooking, as the acid really gets the juices flowing and tenderizes the meat. It almost jump-starts the cooking process. The aioli can be made in advance, while the chicken, vegetables, and flat fries are best when served hot. I used green bell peppers here, which I believe are highly underrated, but any pepper would benefit from this flavor and blistering process. This spicy orange chicken marinade infuses the chicken with heat and flavor which when cooked, retains its juicy seasoning.
for the spicy orange chicken
- 1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
- ¼ cup orange zest
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
- 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, sliced horizontally into thick strips
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
for the spicy orange aioli
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons mustard
- ½ cup neutral oil
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ¼ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
for the flat fries
- 2 pounds yukon gold potatoes, sliced into ¼ inch rounds
- 2 gallons of water
- ¼ cup baking soda
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
for the corn and green peppers
- 2 tablespoons neutral oil
- ½ red onion, diced
- 4 ears of corn, husked and with the corn sliced off
- 2 green bell peppers, cut into 2-inch chunks
- ¼ cup freshly squeezed lime juice, divided
- 1 teaspoon salt, divided
- ½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper, divided
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 bunch cilantro, chopped
- Juice of 1 lime
2-4 hours before you are ready to begin cooking, whisk together the orange juice, orange zest, garlic, maple syrup, chili powder, smoked paprika, and cayenne. Place the chicken in a large dish or bowl and cover with the marinade. Let sit for 2-4 hours until you are ready to cook.
Once the chicken has marinated, heat a large skillet over medium high heat and add the olive oil. Place the chicken in a flat even layer on the pan and cook for 10-12 minutes on the first side, then flip and cook for another 10-12 minutes.
spicy orange aioli steps
In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolk, garlic, lemon juice, and mustard until combined. Slowly drizzle in the oil, while continuing to whisk vigorously until the mixture comes together, this is called emulsification. Add in the chili powder, smoked paprika, cayenne, black pepper, and orange zest. Set aside.
flat fries steps
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Place the sliced potatoes in a large bowl and cover them in the water and baking soda, allowing them to soak for 30 minutes to an hour. This helps extract some of the starch, allowing the potatoes to be their crispiest when cooked. After they are finished soaking, rinse and pat them dry with a paper towel, and transfer them to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Drizzle them with the olive oil, salt, and freshly cracked black pepper. Bake the potatoes for about 35 minutes, shaking the tray halfway through to ensure even cooking.
corn and green peppers steps
In a large cast iron skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the red onion and cook until it turns translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the corn, half of the lime juice, the salt, and the pepper, and cook for 7-10 minutes until it begins to slightly char. Remove from the pan and add the green peppers, skin-side down. Pour the remaining lime juice, salt, and pepper over the peppers and cook them for 7 minutes then flip them and cook for another 5 minutes until softened. The peppers will sizzle and the skin will blister.
Transfer the chicken, vegetables, flat fries, and aioli to a large plate or platter and dress with the lime juice and chopped cilantro.