Sunday, September 27, 2015

Chinese Fakeout: Baked Sweet and Sour Chicken

The inside of our garage upright freezer was starting to resemble Antarctica, so it was time to do some defrosting and rearranging. I found a package of chicken breasts that was hidden behind a big chunk of ice. I rummaged through my pantry and discovered a can of pineapple chunks. I always have red bell peppers in the fridge. My husband says that I cook by what I am craving.  Yep, that's very true.  I like Chinese food every once in a while, but there aren't very good Chinese restaurants close by.  That's my my craving radar kicked in-- Sweet and Sour Chicken!

I don't want to mislead anyone into believing there isn't any frying involved, because, well... there is!  The cut up chicken is coated with egg and then tossed with seasoned flour-- then in a seasoned cornstarch mixture.  The chicken is then fried in oil just long enough to brown, but not cook all the way through.

The chicken is then placed into a baking dish and coated with the sauce. Sauce?  I apologize that I don't have any photos to show you.  I just wasn't sure if I'd like this recipe and I was feeling kind of lazy  (I've made a few not-so-good sweet and sour recipes before) so I didn't set up my camera.  Anyway... the sauce doesn't have any unusual ingredients-- pineapple juice, red wine vinegar, ketchup, powdered ginger (I would have used fresh, if I had any), and a few other tidbits (printable recipe is at the end of this post).  This is baked for about 50 minutes (or until the sauce is thickened).

NOTE:  I found that the sauce didn't quite thicken, to my liking.  No worries. I carefully drained out the thin sauce into a sauce pan and added a slurry of cornstarch and water (about 1 heaping tablespoon and enough water to whisk until there were no lumps and it was smooth).  That did the trick, and I poured it all over the chicken and it was perfect.

I served this with rice and then we sat down to enjoy dinner, about an hour and a half, after I began prepping and cooking. This isn't exactly a fast meal to put on the table, but it's pretty straight-forward to make.

TASTING NOTES:  This is, seriously, the best homemade sweet and sour chicken that I've ever tasted. Even my husband praised how much he loved this dish.  If there is anything I would change (and I've noted this on the recipe card) is to cut back a wee bit on the red wine vinegar.  The sauce had a bit of a tart bite to it, but it was still very good.  Before anyone asks, let me try and guess some questions that might come my way.  Can you use dark meat?  I would suppose you could, but I've always had white meat with my sweet and sour chicken at Chinese restaurants.  Can you use a different type of vinegar, like white wine or rice vinegar?  It's worth a try, but I'll stick with red wine vinegar for the flavor and the color.  I used only red bell pepper, because I like the sweetness and color of them. Feel free to use a combination or green bell peppers-- whatever floats your boat.  Next time, I think I'll cut the bell peppers a bit chunkier. 

RECIPE SOURCE: "Carlsbad Cravings"

Just today, my husband mentioned how much he liked this dish. So, I'll take that as reassurance that I'll definitely make this again. When I do, I'll take more step-by-step photos and update this post.  It's pretty easy to make, really.

As always, the printable recipe card is at the end of this post.


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Big Dude said...

Looks and sounds delicious Debbie - I like the bright colors in it.

Karen (Back Road Journal) said...

This does sound good and I'm sure much better than takeout Chinese.