I went to Colorado State University. My brother, in turn, went to Colorado State University. And then my little sister went to Colorado State University. If you were to ask us what the one most memorable thing about the CSU campus was, it wouldn’t be architecture or meeting places for friends or tiny, cinderblock dormitory rooms. It would be the fat-ass squirrels.
CSU has some of the fattest, friendliest, most culinarily indiscriminate squirrels I have ever come across in my life. Every one of them looks like a furry, less Scottish version of Austin Powers icon Fat Bastard. They tromp around the quad chattering merrily, patting their guts and saying “GIT IN MAH BELLEH! I’M-A EATCHA!”
When I first started school, and I saw the rotund little beasts, I thought certainly they had been fed something unsafe. Like Nutri-Grain bars. Or potato chips. I started carrying raw, unsalted nuts in my backpack, hoping to ward off squirrel scurvy, or whatever kind of malnourishment ails squirrels at state colleges known for binge drinking and hot chicks. The squirrels DIDN’T WANT MY NUTS. I was appalled. What exactly was the diet they preferred? How were they getting so fat?
When my brother started school, 4 years later, we were sitting at lunch one day and he mentioned the squirrels. Then, totally casually, he said “They really love them some orange chicken.”
Yeah. Turns out the squirrels have developed a very distinct hankering for orange chicken from the fast food chinese place inside the food court. They go crazy for it. Their tiny little hands start to clap together and they will climb you like a tree and start physically assaulting you for a bite of your greasy chinese takeout. This would be less threatening if they didn’t also outweigh a large percentage of the students on campus. Definitely most of the hot chicks.
And it would be less disturbing if I weren’t almost 100% certain that the meat that goes into that nasty chinese food is probably squirrel or other festive rodent. Capybara, maybe? Just gross. Tiny little cannibals. Adorable, merry, tiny little cannibals. Fine. Orange chicken it is.
I developed this recipe in honor of the squirrels, but for my little brother. He loves orange chicken, too. And this version is WAY better than the food court garbage. It maintains the sticky-icky quality of the orange chicken we know and love, but adds better ingredients, deeper flavor, and a crispier, thinner coating to the chicken. You will want it ALL in your belleh, and if some cute little squirrels came up and started demanding it, you’d definitely think twice about sharing.
- Part 1—
- 2 tbsp oyster sauce
- 1 tsp fresh ginger
- 1 clove minced garlic
- ½ cup orange juice
- ½ cup water
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp rice vinegar
- juice of half a fresh lemon
- ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
- ¼ cup white sugar
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- Part 2—
- 6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into cubes
- 1 C corn starch
- 2 T flour
- 1 t salt
- Oil for frying (I like to use a deep fryer)
- Part 3—
- 1½ tbsp of corn starch
- 1½ tbsp of orange juice
- Part 1—
- Bring to boil
- Reduce by 25%
- Keep warm
- Part 2—
- Preheat fryer to 375 F
- In a large bowl, mix together flour, salt, and corn starch
- Toss chicken in mixture, shake off excess, and set aside
- Deep fry in small batches until golden brown and cooked through, drying on paper towels or paper bags
- Part 3—
- Stir together corn starch and orange juice
- Stir into the sauce and blend well
- Bring sauce to a boil to thicken, adding orange juice as necessary to keep it thin enough to toss with chicken (and optional vegetables). It will thicken very quickly, so be prepared to pull it and toss it with your chicken/veg right away.
- Serve over rice
This isn’t low-cal. Duh. Fried food and sugar syrup over carbs? No. So you’ll probably need some eatin’ sweats to put this away. I recommend this pair from CrotchGear. They are super-high quality, heavy-duty sweats by Badger athletic wear, and have an adorable, feisty, hungry little squirrel reaching for your nuts. Or, in my case, I guess squirrels are also into tacos? Who can even tell with these guys any more?
CrotchGear wants you to have an awesome pair of eatin’ sweats, too, so leave a comment telling me your favorite kind of Chinese takeout, and I’ll choose a number at random for the free pair. Awesome, right? Pass it on!
You can leave one comment a day for the giveaway, up through 10 p.m. EST on Friday, July 13. Please be sure to sign in using an email so I can contact the winner.
Play on, players. And protect your nuts.