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Orange and Chicken Braise

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A tender orange and chicken braise is just the cozy dinner you need to celebrate citrus season and warm up those cold winter nights. It’s as easy a loading up your dutch oven with mandarin slices and seared chicken and popping it in the oven. In less that 2 hours you have beautifully browned, saucy orange braised chicken.

braised chicken with orange sauce on a white plate over rice with chopped parsley

We all have our go to’s right? Maybe it’s a pot of spaghetti or a quick chicken casserole for you, for my family when I want something filling, delicious, and easy, I go straight for the braise. It’s hard not to love a tender, fall apart piece of meat in a delicious sauce. Especially when that meat started as an inexpensive cut and took me no more effort than the 20 minutes of getting it in the oven.

I felt like it was just about time to share another braise with you guys, since my Dr. Pepper Short Ribs and red wine braised brisket have been such hits. We kept getting pounds of mandarins in our CSA farm box, I had to get creative! I just zested, peeled them, and threw the wedges straight into the braising liquid, and less than two hours later I had this tangy, sweet, savory citrus baked chicken in a killer orange mandarin orange sauce that begged to be spooned over rice. I think this will be an easy, easy win with anyone you serve it to!

How to braise Chicken like a Pro

Braising is very easy, I think because it takes more than an hour (it’s all inactive time on your part) it gets a bad rap, but here are some tips to make your orange braised chicken perfect.

  • Go for skin on, bone-in chicken whenever possible. The bone and fat help keep the meat moist. Because braising a meat is technically taking it PAST overcooked you want something with fat and connective tissue to make them truly tender.
    • Side note, while thighs are the BEST cut for a chicken braise, I buy my chicken whole and butcher to my needs to I often include skin on breast for this recipe and it works just fine!
  • Because chicken will never have the connective tissue or fat that say a short rib or a pork shoulder, it won’t take the time that other cuts will, 1.5 hours max.
  • Braising liquid should come up only halfway on the meat. Choose your pot accordingly, if the liquid covers, technically you’re making a stew!
  • Use a sturdy pan or pot that has a tight fitting lid. I really prefer my Lodge Dutch Oven or my enameled cast iron casserole skillet. Any wide, oven safe pan with a good lid works great!

Orange Braised Chicken Ingredients

One of the BEST parts of this braise is the serious ease of it, the ingredients are easy to find and very easy to prepare. I also think it’s one of the more inexpensive meals you can make for a crowd!

a plate of chicken beside a jar of honey, several mandarins, a cup of chicken broth, salt and pepper, onion, garlic, and ground ginger
  • Chicken – Since I break down whole chickens, I find that the thighs and breasts are often bigger than when I buy them packaged. I’d recommend 6 pieces if they’re decent sized, and 8 if they’re smallish. Bone in, skin on!
  • Mandarins – I found six mandarins was perfect. Fun fact, both clementines and tangerines are part of the mandarin family. That bag of cuties works perfect, so will small tangerines, or small mandarins.
  • Onion – yellow is often my preferred but use what you have, you’ll need 1 whole one.
  • Garlic – a few large cloves of garlic take the sauce from sweet and citrus to savory.
  • Chicken broth – you need some liquid to help build up the braising liquid, and to help break down the mandarin wedges.
  • Soy Sauce – Just a little to mellow out the sweet citrus.
  • Honey – just a touch makes all the difference.
  • Salt, Pepper, and Ground Ginger – a quick coating on the chicken pre-sear.

If I can make an additional suggestion, whip up a pot of white rice to soak up all the goodness!

How to Make an Orange and chicken Braise

Maybe I’m a traditionalist, maybe just stubborn, but I do make my braises classically in a dutch oven (I don’t own a slow cooker or an instant pot, gasp!). There’s something cozy about my big cast iron pot going low and slow in the oven full of heart warming goodness. It’s very, very easy, I promise. I’m determined to spread the braising craze!

a pot of mandarin slices, a pot of slices with seared raw chicken, then a pot of cooked chicken
  1. First heat your braising pot over medium high heat with 2 tablespoons of oil and preheat your oven to 325°F.
  2. Pat your chicken dry and season with salt, pepper, and ginger, then when your pan is hot, sear it skin side down in the oil until browned, about 5 to 7 minutes.
    1. For BEST browning, don’t move the chicken in the pan, the skin will release naturally when properly seared.
  3. While your chicken is crisping, dice your onion, mince your garlic, and zest the mandarins before peeling and separating the slices.
  4. When your chicken is crisp, remove it from the pan to a plate, skin side up. Turn down the heat to medium and add your onions to the pan and let them begin to caramelize and soften, 3 to 4 minutes.
  5. Add in the garlic and zest and stir, cooking just 30 seconds or so until fragrant. Then add in the stock, soy sauce and honey, stir until honey is dissolved, scraping along the bottom of the pan to release any brown bits. Add the mandarins wedges and bring to a gentle boil.
  6. When boiling return the chicken to the pan, skin side up. Nestle the chicken down in the pan so that the braising liquid comes about halfway up, not covering the chicken.
  7. Cover your pan either with a lid or tightly with foil, and place in the oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes.
  8. Remove from oven and enjoy!

Optional browning: After the 1 hour 15 minute cook, crank the oven up to 375°F then remove the lid or foil and baste the chicken skin with the liquid and return to the oven for 5 minutes, repeat once and then serve.

a platter of white rice topped with braised chicken thighs and an orange sauce with chopped parsley

FAQ’S

What’s the best temperature for braising chicken?

I find between 275° and 325°F is my happy place for braising, though some chefs recommend as low as 250°F! The lower the temperature the slower the cook, so I find for chicken a ‘quick’ braise at 325°F works best.

Can I make this on the stove?

YES! A stove top braise is entirely possible. It will take you the same amount of time. Simply turn the heat down to low after bringing the sauce to a boil, and cover, maintaining a gentle simmer for an hour, then remove the lid and simmer the final 15 minutes.

Can I make this ahead of time?

Yes! One of my favorite chefs, Tom Colicchio, recommends in his book Think Like a Chef that braises always be made the day before. I’m an aspiring home chef, but this momma doesn’t often have quite that much time and forethought. If however you do, go for it!

Make the dish, let cool, and refrigerate in the pan if possible or transfer all the contents of the pan to another bowl. When ready to reheat, return to the pan and heat in a low oven, basting occasionally with the sauce as it loosens during reheating.

Can I freeze this?

It does loose a bit of texture, especially the skin so I don’t really recommend it.

Can I make this in the Crock Pot?

Yes! Sear the chicken as usual, then place with all the other ingredients in your crock pot and cook on low for 3 to 4 hours or until chicken is fork tender.

Serve this with…

I really like this with a big scoop of rice and a a bit of chopped parsley, but you can serve this however you like! Here are a few suggestions, and until next time, I hope you enjoy, Happy Eating!

braised chicken with orange sauce on a white plate over rice with chopped parsley
5 from 12 votes

Orange & Chicken Braise

Print Recipe
A simple winter chicken braise of mandarins that ends up tender and juicy with a savory orange sauce.
Prep Time:10 mins
Cook Time:1 hr 35 mins

Ingredients

  • 6 pieces chicken bone in, skin on
  • 2 tbso olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 3/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 3/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 cup onion, diced 1 medium onion
  • 1 tbs garlic, minced 3 cloves
  • 1 tbs soy sauce
  • 3 tbs honey
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 6 small mandarins zested, peeled & segmented

Instructions

  • Heat a large oven safe pot or pan over medium high heat and preheat your oven to 325°F.
  • Pat your chicken dry and divided salt, pepper, and ginger evenly among the chicken pieces. Add oil to hot pan and heat until shimmering.
  • Add seasoned chicken skin side down into the pan and cook until skin is browned, 5 to 7 minutes.*
  • While your chicken is browning, dice your onion, garlic, and zest your mandarins. Then peel and segment your mandarins.
  • Remove seared chicken from the pan and place skin side up on a plate. Turn your burner down to medium and add the onion, saute until beginning to soften and caramelize, about 4 minutes.
  • Add garlic and zest to the onions and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  • Add in chicken stock, honey, and soy sauce and stir, scraping along the bottom of the pan to release the brown bits on the bottom of the pan.
  • When honey is dissolved, add in orange segments and bring the whole mixture to a gentle boil. When boiling return chicken into the pan, nestling into the braising liquid so it comes halfway up.
  • Cover the pan tightly and place into the oven to cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes.*
  • Remove from oven, stir the sauce around and serve chicken with a big spoonful of sauce.

Notes

*For best browning, don’t move the chicken around in the pan until the skin released naturally from the pan. 
*For optional additional browning, after 1 hour and 15 minutes, remove the lid and turn the oven up to 375°F. Baste the chicken with a spoonful of braising liquid and return to oven, uncovered for 5 minutes. Repeat once then serve. 
*Cook times and nutritional information is provided as a best estimate. Changes may occur based on brand and equipment variation.

Nutrition

Calories: 148kcal | Carbohydrates: 24g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 2mg | Sodium: 810mg | Potassium: 213mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 19g | Vitamin A: 518IU | Vitamin C: 23mg | Calcium: 37mg | Iron: 1mg
Course: dinner, Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: braise, chicken, citrus, dinner, orange
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 148kcal
Author: Mikayla M

Nutrition information and cooking times are provided as a best estimate. Values may vary based upon ingredients and equipment.

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26 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    This looks positively amazing! Love the flavors and that you used bone-in, skin on chicken. Adds so much more flavor.

  2. 5 stars
    I am loving the flavor that comes with this chicken dinner. I have saved it and added to our menu next week.

  3. 5 stars
    Wow, I really must try this recipe – I have recently bought a Dutch oven and this will be a perfect debut recipe and dish to make. Thanks so much for sharing this. The flavours in this dish must be unbelievable. I cannot wait to make this.

  4. 5 stars
    This looks amazing! I love braising chicken but have never tried an orange recipe. Thank you for the inspiration.

  5. 5 stars
    I have a new favorite winter chicken dinner! This is so flavorful and the perfect way to enjoy winter citrus. Can’t wait to make this again!

  6. 5 stars
    What a brilliant way to use all those mandarin oranges that come in your CSA box! I love that the oranges not only lend a brilliant flavor but they really make everything aromatic. This orange chicken braise is one of those dishes that pulls everyone out from the corners of the house to the kitchen to see what smells so good!

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