Mandarin Chilli Chicken and Caprioscas

Growing up I loved autumn because it was the start of mandarin season. There is something fantastic about them, not as sweet as an orange, but super tasty. Okay I am lying. I loved them because as children we would break a segment off and shove it into our mouths like fake teeth and pretend to be Mr Mandarin the fruit man. But the simplicity of the fruits segments make them incredibly suitable for salads and so much easier than segmenting an orange. Not that there is anything wrong with an orange, I am just a lover of the mandarin. 🙂

I spoke with Barry Scott, General Manager of Gayndah Packers who are based in QLD on the Burnett River. Citrus – and mandarins in particular – have been a mainstay of Gayndah’s economy for more than a century. This is because land along the Burnett River (which flows right through the heart of town) produces some of the finest flavoured mandarins in the world.

Barry tells me, “the Imperial Mandarins are just now coming into their perfect best – they are now eating beautifully and sadly for the Grower, the price has now dropped to a very affordable price in all outlets. Look for a rich yellow colour and a nice firm (not tight) skin with a bouncy feel to the fruit when very lightly squeezed. An excellent and above all, pleasurable source of vitamin C.

So this recipe comes courtesy of Gayndah Packers and you can get even more mandarin recipes on their web site.


Mandarin Chilli Chicken


  • 1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon of chilli powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 medium-sized chicken (about 1.5kg or appx 3lbs), cut into quarters
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/3 cup mandarin juice
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste or ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon light molasses (If you don’t have any molasses handy, treacle or golden syrup will also act as acceptable substitutes)
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 3 mandarins, separated into sections
  • 1 cup finely diced capsicum or red bell pepper

The Process

  • Prepare a large casserole dish with a non-stick coating and warm it slightly in the oven before use
  • Combine the chilli powder and salt in a small bowl or cup, and rub the chicken quarters on their cut sides and under their skin with the chilli powder mixture.
  • Place the chicken portions skin-side up in a single layer in the prepared casserole dish and drizzle with oil.
  • Cook the chicken on the middle shelf of a moderate over for 25 to 30 minutes, turning the pieces several times until they’re browned and cooked through.
  • Meanwhile, whisk together the mandarin juice, water, brown sugar, tomato paste, molasses, soy sauce, cornstarch, and cayenne until smooth in a medium saucepan.
  • Bring the saucepan’s contents to a boil over high heat – stirring constantly – and cook until the mix has thickened.
  • When it has, remove the mix from the heat and stir in the mandarin sections and capsicum. Then cover sauce and let it stand at least 10 minutes (or until chicken portions are done).
  • Finally, remove the skin from the cooked chicken portions and serve with the sauce.


Mandarin Capriosca

The perfect drink to go with the chicken dish on an autumn afternoon.


  • 4 mandarins cut into 8 wedges. Don’t peel them though the skin is important.
  • 1 tbs caster sugar. Please don’t use normal white sugar it will not dissolve.
  • 1 cup crushed ice, I make mine by placing ice cubes in a plastic bag and whacking them with the bottom of a saucepan.
  • 250ml (1 cup) chilled mandarin-flavoured vodka….this stuff is addictive be warned.
  • 250ml (1 cup) chilled pink-grapefruit juice. I actually use bought juice but if you can get your hands on ruby grapefruit then juice your own.

The Process

  • Place the mandarin and sugar in a mortar and pound with a pestle until mandarin is crushed. Or you can place mandarin in a plastic bowl and press with the end of a large jar. Be careful with the pressure you will find the juice goes everywhere, start slowly.
  • Spoon the mandarin mixture evenly into 4 medium sized glasses.
  • Top each glass with some crushed ice.
  • Pour over the vodka and grapefruit juice.
  • Give each one a little swizzle and then serve.
  • Start on the next lot, they wont last long.

Don’t forget to tell me how you go. If you make the recipe or the drink why not leave some comments.

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