Paleo Orange Pecan Chicken

2012-12-15
This is another recipe inspired by Dana Carpenter’s 500 Paleo Recipes cookbook.  It was one that I flagged when I was flipping through because I have historically enjoyed pecans and chicken.  After initially following her recipe to the letter, I made changes to the cooking process, and added a few ingredients to make it my own.  The taste immediately reminded me of delicious spicy mandarin orange chicken and rice packets (baked in aluminum foil) that my Mom used to make when I was younger.  I may post that recipe one day for those that would like to try it, but I promise that the flavors in this recipe will not disappoint.

I added the celery, more pecans, cayenne pepper and red pepper flakes in order to mimic the flavors I remembered from my Mom’s recipe.  Don’t worry, it doesn’t end up too hot.  My Mom’s packets had Szechuan sauce, which I did not have on hand, so I decided to toast the pecans in the oven (I don’t have a toaster oven).  I sprinkled them with cayenne and sea salt before toasting them, and the result was a little heat and salt that enhanced the flavor of the dish tenfold.  I may even add a little bit of chili powder on the pecans next time I make this.  Like I said, this dish isn’t overly spicy, possibly because there is balance of sweet and acid with the addition of the juice from the orange and lemon.  Most importantly, you don’t miss the rice, because it goes perfectly with Cauliflower Rice.  I even chose to steam the cauliflower with just a drizzle of fresh squeezed orange juice, and it definitely brightened up the flavors.  The beauty of this recipe is also that the leftovers may even taste better because the flavors have gotten a chance to meld.  Nothing wrong with that!  🙂

Ingredients

  • 2 packages chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces (I used thinly sliced)
  • 2-3 tbs coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans (season with cayenne, salt, chili powder to taste)
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 orange bell pepper, diced
  • Juice of 1 medium navel orange
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup low sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Instructions

  • 1. Preheat oven at 350 degrees (to toast pecans)
  • 2. Heat 1-2 tbs coconut oil in nonstick saute pan on medium/med-high heat
  • 3. Brown pieces of chicken on both sides and set aside in a large bowl
  • 4. Add another 1 tbs oil, if necessary, and cook onions, peppers in pan until soft
  • 5. Add broth, juice of orange and lemon, chicken, and bring up to a simmer
  • 6. Reduce temperature to med-low, cover, and simmer for about 15 minutes
  • 7. Meanwhile, place pecans on parchment paper-covered pan, and sprinkle with cayenne, sea salt, and chili powder
  • 8. Bake for 5 minutes or until toasty brown (you will be able to smell when they’re done!)
  • 9. Set aside to cool for a few minutes (so they don’t soak up too much juice from the chicken)
  • 10. Add pecans to pan, stir well, let pan sit on low for at least another 10 minutes to let flavors incorporate
  • 11. Enjoy!