I don't know anyone who doesn't like Chinese take out. And of those people, not one doesn't like Sweet and Sour Chicken. It's a classic. Tender pieces of chicken, surrounded in a slightly crunchy exterior and bathed in a sweet and tangy sauce. It's delicious. So, when I started seeing recipes for it pinned on Pinterest I thought I would try to make it myself at home.
Home made Sweet and Sour Chicken is no new thing to me. I grew up eating it. My dad's recipe is actually so good that people ask him for it all the time. His recipe calls for pineapple juice in the sauce, and that is completely acceptable and yummy - I just wanted to try the recipe I found online. (I did tweak it though, or course.)
The only thing I was disappointed in was that the chicken wasn't very crunchy - but I suppose you get what you ask for. This version is BAKED and not deep fried (like that from a Chinese restaurant), so I shouldn't expect it to be the same.
This recipe is simple and easy to put together. It does require a little attention in the oven (basting every 15 minutes) but nothing too complicated. And, as always, I changed the recipe a little. The end result is a tasty dish that everyone in the family loved - I'm sure you will too.
Here's how it starts:
2 eggs in one bowl, some cornstarch in the other.
Whip up the eggs with a splash of water (I just used a fork for mixing.).
Next comes the chicken. Boneless skinless chicken breasts are what I used, but thighs would work well too (if that's what makes you "skirt fly up" as Miss Ree would say). Salt and pepper get sprinkled on.
Now, normally, I would dip the chicken into the egg first and then the cornstarch; but this recipe laughs in the face of tradition. Hahahaha. (Can you hear it?) The seasoned chicken goes into the cornstarch first!
Then into the eggs. And yes, it is a huge, sticky MESS! I ended up putting the eggs into an 8x8 dish, so that I could coat all the chicken pieces at the same time. I only want to get this dirty once!
From the eggs, the chicken chucks go into a hot skillet (or wok if you have one), with a little oil. High temp cooking oil please.
Just let the chicken sit for a minute and then start breaking up the pieces and turning them around the pan over HIGH heat. You're not worried about cooking the chicken right now, you just want to set the coating and try to get a little color.
When they are all separated and the coating is cooked, they are done in the pan.
It all gets dumped into a 9x13 baking dish, in an even layer.
This is the first place I tweaked the recipe a little. I'm always looking for ways to get the family to eat healthier. Also, I wanted the dish to be like the kind I get at my favorite restaurants - so, in go the sliced green bell pepper. One large pepper should do ya.
Next comes the pineapple. And this, I suppose is optional, but why would you leave it out? (I know of only one person - my dear friend's husband Scott - who doesn't like cooked pineapple.) I get it at the restaurant, and I want it here at home too. In goes one cup of pineapple chunks or tid bits (it's up to you). They need to be well drained, though, so don't forget that step!
The last, and some would say most important, step is the sweet and sour sauce. It starts with ketchup.
Next goes in some vinegar, (original recipe said white, I used rice wine)
some soy sauce (I like the low sodium kind),
granulated garlic, (original recipe said garlic salt)
and sugar. It is called sweet and sour sauce after all.
All the sauce ingredients get whisked together, and then poured over the chicken, bell peppers and pineapple.
Toss to coat, and in the oven it goes @ 325F.
Every 15 minutes, toss everything around to get it coated in the sauce again, and after 60 minutes it should be done! I've seen lots of pictures of this recipe on line, but they all seem to have more color than mine. I'm guessing they cooked theirs at a higher temp, but I could be wrong. My additions of the peppers and pineapples also could have affected the final color, but I'm not dismayed. The final test is in the taste.
Just plate it up and watch your family smile. YUM!
I served it with fried rice (I'm in the process of posting that one as we speak). You can serve it on the side, or on top. My family tends to be mixers, so on top was they way most of us ate it. :)
Here's the recipe:
adapted from Life as a Loft House
Baked Sweet and Sour Chicken
3-4 boneless chicken breasts
salt (to taste)
freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
1 cup cornstarch
2 eggs, beaten with a splash of water (~1 Tbsp)
1/4 cup canola oil
1 large green bell pepper, washed, seeded and cut into strips
1 cup of pineapple chunks or tid bits, well drained
3/4 cup sugar
4 Tbsp ketchup
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp granulated garlic
Start by preheating your oven to 325F. Cut chicken into cubes and season with salt and pepper. Dip chicken into the cornstarch to coat then dip into the eggs. Heat oil in a large skillet and cook your chicken on high until browned but not cooked through. Place the chicken in a 9x13 greased baking dish. Add the bell pepper strips and pineapple chunks. Whisk all of the sauce ingredients together and pour over the chicken mixture. Stir to coat. Bake for one hour and turning the chicken every 15 minutes. Serve hot.