It’s unlikely you’ll find anything if you look for “Hart Authentic Orange Chicken” online – at least I didn’t find anything when I looked. It seems that this frozen entree is made by Hart Food Products from Lakewood, CA. I bought it at Grocery Outlet, and I imagine they are their only distributor. Actually, given Hart’s pathetic website, it’s difficult to believe they are any sort of serious company. Which really tells you something about where Grocery Outlet sources its products. And indeed, orange chicken seems to be one of only three or four products Hart offers .
Anyway, I was in Grocery Outlet yesterday and thought I’d take a look at the frozen stuff they had, as I’ve been feeling less and less like cooking lately. This orange chicken product didn’t seem too bad – at least in comparison to the brand-name frozen food products. Yeah, it has a lot of salt, corn syrup and a myriad of preservatives, but so do all the brand name products. At least it had chicken as its main ingredient 🙂
It’s not obvious from the picture in the package, but this is really popcorn chicken – which is annoying as that means it has much more breading than you would like. It’s uncooked so you need to bake it for 20 minutes, pan fry it for 10 to 15 minutes, or deep fry it for 6 minutes. Then you mix it with the orange sauce which comes in 3 packages. You can’t microwave it.
As for the taste, it met our very low expectations. Mike found it too bland, while I thought the chicken had a subtle “off” flavor. The sauce was OK, somewhat orangy and not too sweet.
I’m unlikely to buy it again.
** UPDATE July 2012**
The owner of Hart Chicken e-mailed me a few weeks ago and told me they’d made changes to their product and to give it another try. I was reluctant, because one of the changes involved getting a different supplier of chicken pieces that produced more uniform – but smaller – pieces. I figured one of the major problems was the size of the pieces, so this wouldn’t help. But I figured I would give the product another try (though it would have been nice if he’d sent me a coupon rather than I having to buy it myself) and I was happier than the time before.
The pieces are still small (they need to be in order to be ready within a reasonably period of time, given that they are not pre-cooked), but this time I went into the meal experience thinking of it as popcorn chicken. So I wasn’t disappointed by their size.
I also used much less oil than the instructions called for, which you can do if you stir fry the chicken.
The sauce was supposed to have an improved flavor, and I think it did. It was just the right amount to coat all the chicken – though a bit more would have been welcomed for any rice or veggies you might want to throw in. I did note this time that the sauce takes on a full 10 oz of the 32 oz of the package, which is quite a lot.
Anyway, Hart Orange Chicken is still not for me, though as you can see below it has many lovers (and haters).