Whether for a quick and easy weeknight family dinner or elegant entertaining, you'll be impressed with these light and tasty Chicken Breasts in Orange Sauce. Just 4 ingredients and 20 minutes to a fantastic meal. The recipe comes direct to you from the cooking class I took in Rome. (Skip to recipe.)
On our first day in Rome, I took a cooking class. It wasn't meant to be scheduled like that, but since we'd booked our trip only three weeks before leaving, that date was the only opening left and I grabbed it.
It was a beautiful sunny morning. We decided to walk to the class, since Google Maps said it should only take 45 minutes, and what better way to get our bearings and a close-up view to the city, right?
As we speed-walked past monuments, cafes, and one beautiful old building after another, we tried not to stop and gawk too often. I was sweating and kept removing layers as we marched. We needed to cross the river into Trastevere, and I remember at one point rushing past a massive and stunning white building with winged bronze horses atop its towers, thinking this must be an important landmark, but no time to stop.
We only found out on our last days in Rome that it was actually the Vittorio Emanuele II monument in the Piazza Venezia. We had rushed right through Rome's spectacular main piazza and not even realized it - so intent were we on following our map and getting to class on time!
Once we got there, Raymond left to do some exploring on his own (one of these days I'll get him to take a cooking class with me) and I entered the doors to the Cooking Classes in Rome building.
Ah, what an oasis. The street noises outside disappeared and happy music played. I took one of the last chairs at a long table set with drinks and pastries for us to nibble on. Chef Andrea Consoli welcomed us and we introduced ourselves to each other - 12 eager cooks from all over the world.
We had a fantastic day!
We tied on our aprons and trooped into the cozy kitchen at the back of the room. Chef Andrea had set out all the fabulous produce for our day of cooking, which he'd purchased at the market that morning.
He explained the menu for the day.
Chef Andrea said he teaches local and seasonal dishes, and always likes to include one course that is quick and easy to replicate at home for a family weeknight dinner. Well, this Chicken Breasts in Orange Sauce is that kind of a hit. Takes less than 20 minutes to prepare and tastes fantastic, light and bright with fresh orange flavour, so I knew I had to share it with you. Doesn't it look delicious?
Citrus fruits are in season right now in Italy. The air around markets is perfumed with their fresh scent. We saw orange and lemon trees everywhere, tucked into small back yards, in parks, and in vast orderly groves all over southern Italy and Sicily. (In Sicily we stayed one night in a beautiful old stone farmhouse converted to a bed and breakfast, right in the middle of a lemon grove.)
Chef Andrea was the most fun cooking class teacher I've had (and I've taken cooking classes in quite a few different cities). He was hilarious, always joking and laughing, but completely efficient and organized, keeping all 12 of us busy the whole time: chopping, washing, kneading, rolling, cooking, and stirring. And throughout class, he regaled us with useful tidbits of information about the history of the area, history of the dishes we were preparing, Roman and Italian food in general, and fun facts about cooking and food. He has years of experience cooking in restaurants, and now puts those talents to use teaching us ordinary folk how to make some fantastic Italian dishes. If you have a chance to go to Rome and take a cooking class, I highly recommend a day in his kitchen.
We prepared stuffed zucchini blossoms for the antipasto course. Chef Andrea showed us how to gently remove the stamen in the blossom, then fill the center with a piece of fresh mozzarella wrapped in either proscuitto or thinly sliced eggplant (anchovy is traditional, but we had a class member allergic to fish).
The stuffed blossoms were then battered and deep fried. He put a couple other students to work making the southern Italian style fresh tomato and walnut pesto served with the fried zucchini blossoms.
For the first course (primo), which is usually a pasta, risotto, or other carbohydrate-based course, we made homemade ravioli stuffed with spinach and ricotta, served in a light tomato sauce made with the last of the local San Marzano tomatoes. Everyone had a blast making and rolling the pasta dough, as Chef Andrea utilized the muscle of the two male students in class and encouraged them to 'make love to the dough'. Much laughter.
For the lovely dessert finale, we prepared a lemon-infused custard topped with macerated kiwi fruit, which I was surprised to find is an abundant local crop. (Chef Andrea told us that 80% of the kiwi fruit sold in Europe is grown right in the province of Lazio around Rome.)
Chef surprised us with decorated personal plates for the dessert.
We all sat down to dinner together to enjoy the fantastic meal we'd prepared, complete with matching wines for each course.
I love learning about the culture of a place by exploring its food and how it is traditionally prepared. The cuisine of a region is shaped by its history, geography, and climate, and learning about it connects me on a closer level to the place and the daily lives of the people. This cooking class day was a highlight for me. Whenever I prepare one of the recipes we cooked in class, I'll be instantly transported back to that fun-filled Italian kitchen with a bunch of kindred foodie spirits and the irrepressibly warm and entertaining Chef Andrea, who bound us all together through a wonderful shared day and shared meal of delicious Roman home-cooked cuisine.
* * * * *
Kitchen Frau Notes: I adapted Chef Andrea's recipe only slightly, adding a pinch of white pepper, and finding I needed an extra orange (he suggested 3 oranges), maybe because our oranges aren't as fresh and juicy here in Canada.
Make sure your knife is very sharp for slicing the chicken breasts, or slice them when partially frozen, or have your butcher slice them for you.
The orange juice looses much of its flavour when reheated, so if you're reheating any leftovers of this dish, squeeze on additional fresh orange juice.
The variety of orange you use will determine the intensity of the colour of your sauce. Some oranges produce a more orange sauce than others.
To prepare Chicken Breasts in Orange Sauce for entertaining: Flour and sauté the chicken breast slices several hours ahead and keep them in a dish on the counter at room temperature. Squeeze the orange juice ahead. Then shortly before serving, place the sautéed chicken slices in a large skillet, add the salt, pepper, and orange juice, and cook over medium high heat for several minutes, stirring often, until the sauce is thickened to your liking. Serve immediately.
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts. sliced thinly
- 3 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 3 to 4 freshly squeezed organic oranges, depending on their size (1½ -2 cups/360-480mls juice)
- ½ cup (70gms) all purpose flour (or sweet rice flour for gluten free)
- salt and white pepper to taste (white pepper optional)
Slice the chicken fillets or cutlets, about ¼ inch thick. This works best if you have a very sharp knife. If not, it's easier to slice them if they are partially frozen. Or you can have your butcher slice them for you.
Heat up a heavy-bottomed, wide skillet with the extra virgin olive oil, over medium-high heat. Roll the chicken slices in the flour, coating all sides. (Discard the leftover flour.) Then fry the floured chicken slices in the saucepan in batches, until seared and pale golden in colour. A splatter screen is helpful to keep your stovetop cleaner. Set each batch of fried chicken slices to the side as they are finished.
Return all the cooked chicken slices to the skillet, and season them with salt and a pinch of white pepper. (I use about ¾ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon white pepper). Add the freshly squeezed juice from three oranges, along with whatever pulp is in the juice.
Cook and stir the chicken and orange juice continuously over medium heat for several minutes until the sauce becomes thickened, smooth, and creamy. If the sauce is too thin, cook it a few minutes longer. If it is too thick, add the juice of the fourth orange and cook a few seconds longer. Serve the chicken slices on a nicely decorated plate. Pour over the sauce from the skillet, using a spatula to get every tasty bit out, and serve it hot.
Serves 4 very generously.
Chef Andrea's Wine Pairing: Frascati Superiore DOC - it comes from the Frascati DOC zone of the Municipality of Rome and it’s produced with 50% Malvasia di Candia, 30% Malvasia del Lazio and 20% Trebbiano. Has a delicate nose with moderate fruit and blossom. The palate is dry, fresh, elegant and appealing. It is produced by the local Winery Principe Pallavicini - Colonna (Lazio region) - ed. 2014
Corresponding North American Wine Pairing (by a sommelier friend): Malvasia Bianca 2011 from Kenneth Volk Vineyards in Monterey, California. This wine has both floral and tropical fruit aromas with flavors of pear nectar and citrus fruits, making it rich without being heavy and presenting a clean, dry finish. The exotic floral and tropical fruit aromas in this malvasia stand up well to the acidity of the citrus notes in the dish.
You might also like: