Gluten Free Chicken Nuggets + Chinese Style Orange Sauce

April 30, 2012

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Almost every child I know, loves the idea of Chinese style orange chicken. Hmmm… it’s fried, it’s salty, it’s sweet, and it’s crunchy. I get it. There have been more than a handful of Sunday nights where Chinese is on the menu and up until recently, I was able to order our favorite dishes in my sleep. Most of what we used to eat, we eat no more, thus going to our favorite Beverly Hills Chinese restaurant is saved for those rare weekday lunches with girlfriends.

But how can I possibly deny my kids something that they consider a treat? One of the kids favorite weeknight meals is baked chicken “nuggets”, served with two veggies and a few dipping sauces (bbq, teriyaki, and an orange/apricot sauce). Turning one of their favorite meals into another one of their favorite meals earned me HUGE brownie points.

Eaten without the sauce, picnic style in the backyard is a favorite afternoon snack. Having homemade chicken tenders in the freezer makes snack time, as well as meal time super, duper easy.

I make my nuggets two ways; when in the mood, I pan fry them in a little bit of coconut oil and other times, I bake them in the oven. It has been said (on this blog) that my guilty pleasure is fried food. Thus, my preference is the fried version. One of the benefits (as if there are any benefits to frying), is that they can be treated like snack food. I like to make these on big game days. Having them show up in the kitchen, in the midst of me doing my thing, sneaking a nugget or two always puts a smile on my face.

Making large quantities at at time leaves plenty for leftovers. Leaving lots of possibilities with very few ingredients and one very simple dish. My kids like a hot lunch. Warm these little guys up and place in a warm thermos and a hot lunch is exactly what they get. Cut up into smaller chunks creates the ultimate Chinese chicken salad. And lastly, whip up this sweet and sour orange sauce, keep in the fridge for one of the easiest weeknight meals, ever! Roast some broccoli, throw some brown rice in your rice cooker and the friends that just happen to be over for a playdate that day, will beg to stay for dinner!

Oven Baked Gluten Free Chicken Nuggets + Chinese Style Orange Sauce
yield: 8 servings (with leftovers to spare)

ingredients:
for the chicken:
3 pounds, organic chicken breasts, skin removed, cut into 2″ chunks
2 cups gluten free flour blend (see below)
1 1/2 teaspoons Celtic Sea Salt
1 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/4 cup organic butter
coconut oil for frying

for the sauce:
8 ounces orange marmalade
2 ounces organic pineapple juice
2 ounces seasoned rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon wheat free tamari
1 tablespoon ketchup
2 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon arrowroot

instructions:
for the chicken:
• wash chicken and pat dry.
• preheat oven to 200*.
• over medium heat,  in a cast iron skillet, add 2 ounces of coconut oil and 2 ounces of butter. melt to combine.
• while the fat is melting and heating up, in a large bowl add the flour, salt, and white pepper. whisk to combine.
• in very small batches, dredge the chicken in the flour blend. shake off excess flour and add the chicken to the hot skillet.
• pan fry until brown, about 3-4 minutes or until golden brown. turn chicken over and repeat on the other side.
• when done, transfer to a cookie sheet, lined with paper towels
• repeat with remaining chicken, adding more butter and coconut oil as needed.
• when all the chicken is cooked, place on another rimmed baking sheet and place in the oven to keep warm while you make the sauce.

for the sauce:
• in a small mini Cuisinart, pulse the orange marmalade until all the chunks disappear.
• in a separate bowl, whisk the sesame oil and the arrowroot forming a paste like consistency.
• in a small sauce pot, combine the marmalade, pineapple juice, rice wine vinegar, wheat free tamari, and ketchup.  once bubbles start to appear, turn the heat down to simmer.
• take about 2 tablespoons of the hot, orange sauce and whisk it into the arrowroot mixture until all incorporated. add that back into the sauce pot and whisk to combine and you no longer see any white streaks.
• simmer until thickened, about 5 minutes.
• pour orange sauce over chicken or simply place in a heat resistant, glass bowl for dipping.
• store leftover sauce in a air tight, glass jar for about 1 month.

Gluten Free Flour Blend
I make a huge vat of this and keep it in my pantry. I use this when making chicken picatta or any other protein that needs a flour coating

ingredients:
150 grams Amaranth Flour
150 grams Brown Rice Flour
200 grams Millet Flour
100 grams Quinoa Flour
100 grams Sorghum
100 grams Arrowroot
100 grams Tapioca Flour
50 grams Potato Starch
50 grams White Rice Flour

instructions:
• sift each ingredient, separately, into a very large bowl.
• once sifted, whisk to totally combine.
• store in an airtight container, in your pantry.
• use as needed

More Related Links around the Web:
Gluten Free Pot Stickers – Free Eats Food
Gluten Free Vegetarian Vermicelli Stir Fry – Indo Chine Kitchen
Asian Style Chicken Strips – Family Fresh Cooking
Tempeh and Broccoli - The Wanna Be Chef

{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

1 marla April 30, 2012 at 11:33 am

2 great recipes Susan!! Wish I had some for lunch today :)

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2 Lori @ RecipeGirl April 30, 2012 at 11:35 am

This looks absolutely delicious!

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3 Lucy Lean April 30, 2012 at 11:39 am

these have my name all over them – especially the pan fried version – nothing like it! Do you do to go?!

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4 Susan April 30, 2012 at 11:58 am

if i had some in my freezer at the moment, I would put your name on them!

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5 Allison [Girl's Guide to Social Media] April 30, 2012 at 12:34 pm

This looks SO good, Susan. When I was younger, I loved eating chicken nuggets and Chinese style orange chicken. Nowadays, I don’t touch it because it makes me feel “ugh.” This recipe will change that! Can’t wait.

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6 HeatherChristo April 30, 2012 at 1:19 pm

These look so great!! By the way- the photos are gorgeous Susan- what great light!

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7 Rachel @ Baked by Rachel April 30, 2012 at 2:26 pm

I could eat chicken on a daily basis, I’m such a kid. I love how you displayed the chicken in the first pic!

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8 Susan May 4, 2012 at 8:18 am

I am with you on the “kid” food. I do admit to loving fried foods and this dish just kind of satisfy’s that obsession!

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9 Esi April 30, 2012 at 2:30 pm

They looks so good. I love that the sauce possibilities are endless.

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10 Kim April 30, 2012 at 5:45 pm

Really really have to test this sauce, it looks amazing!

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11 Susan May 4, 2012 at 8:19 am

thanks, Kim. I am going to work on variations of the sauce, but the first few attempts were pretty darn good!

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12 Nancy@acommunaltable April 30, 2012 at 9:21 pm

This couldn’t have come at a better time – one of the boys favorite dishes and one that I can now happily make to store in the freezer for them to eat while I’m gone!!

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13 Susan May 1, 2012 at 1:36 pm

This dish is great for all ages! Plus, it’s an easy dish for those college bound boys to whip up!

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14 Gerry @ Foodness Gracious May 1, 2012 at 5:49 am

Ha! What is it with kids and “orange saucy chicken” as my daughter calls it? It’s easily her favorite thing to eat and I will definitely be trying this one!
Thanks..

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15 Susan May 1, 2012 at 1:38 pm

what is it about this “orange saucy chicken” that puts a smile on all kids faces? Let me know how it turns out! p.s. I am going to add a bit of worcestershire sauce next time!

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16 Kristina Vanni May 1, 2012 at 2:19 pm

These look great – thanks for supplying such great gluten-free recipes for those with dietary needs! Delicious!

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17 ea-the spicy rd May 1, 2012 at 9:18 pm

Wow-what gorgeous nuggets! I’ve actually never made any chicken nuggets for my kids, but this looks like a great recipe to try out on them
{me too!}

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18 Susan May 4, 2012 at 8:20 am

Chicken nuggest are just as easy as a chicken picatta recipe – just bite size. And, knowing what is going into the ingredients makes it easy for us adults to nibble on them as well. Once you make them, you will never go back to the packaged version!

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19 Veronica of Muy Bueno May 2, 2012 at 10:34 am

These are some darn good looking chicken nuggets. My son would love these and I love how you’ve prepared them. Gracias for the great recipe and de-gorgeous pix. Besitos!!

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20 Susan May 2, 2012 at 3:01 pm

de nada! although we look at these as a kid food, we adults secretly enjoy them as well! Besitos, a usted!!

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21 aida mollenkamp May 2, 2012 at 1:18 pm

Oh, we have some big time lovers of chicken nuggets in our house and you’ve just inspired me to whip these up for them. Thanks!

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22 Chung-Ah | Damn Delicious May 3, 2012 at 7:26 pm

Loving these! And that chinese style orange sauce looks divine!

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23 Susan May 4, 2012 at 8:21 am

Chung-Ah – the sauce is really good. But my kids love these dipped in my teriyaki sauce and even a side of marinara will do!

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24 Diana B May 17, 2012 at 4:38 pm

Just found your blog (on a search for homemade teriyaki sauce) & I’m in love. Your recipes all look divine. I think I’ll be exploring & pinning for a while!

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25 Susan May 17, 2012 at 7:48 pm

Thanks, Diana! Please feel free to come back to me with any questions and of course, let me know if you try any of the recipes!!

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26 Brandy D October 3, 2013 at 2:47 am

So, I have a picky 3 year old who would easily live off of chicken nuggets & macaroni & cheese if I would let him. We are making some lifestyle changes in our home & even the “healthy” store bought chicken nuggets are loaded with junk :/ I am looking forward to making these! I would like to make enough to keep some in the freezer, any recommendations on freezing & heating and/or reheating? Thanks :)

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27 Susan November 3, 2013 at 10:53 am

Hi Brandy – I so get the chicken tender/mac and cheese “all you can eat” choices! I like to freeze and do it often. What I do is once the chicken tenders have cooled, I place them on a parchment lined baking sheet and flash freeze them in the freezer for about 2 hours. Once frozen, I store them in freezer safe containers or ziploc bags. I hope this helps!

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