Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Sweet and Sour Chicken

As a rule of thumb I usually tweak recipes that use chicken breasts and substitute thighs. There have been so many instances where I've made a chicken breast dish, like a stir fry or schnitzel, only to realize the meat dried out the next day. I often have leftovers from my dinners, which I love having for lunch, so I like making meals that re-heat well. In this recipe, the chicken breast stayed surprisingly juicy. I made this meal for my dad and I, and he couldn't believe how moist the chicken was. After claiming he wasn't even hungry in the first place, he went back for seconds because he loved they way the chicken was cooked. You can use chicken thighs or breasts, but now you can make this decision based on what part of a chicken you like more since both will turn out great.

I've been reading Jaden Hair's food blog, Steamy Kitchen, for a while. While I have drooled over her Asian recipes for some time now (how good do these dumplings look??), I never gave any of them a try until now. I found that her ingredients were really simple and easy to find, which is always a plus in Asian cooking. Making this dinner is really quick and easy, so you can throw it together on a weeknight after work and not feel too exhausted. Start cooking your rice when you start this recipe and everything should be ready at once. As usual, I served this over my favorite rice- Basmati. I found that there was enough sauce on this dish, but if you love to slather sauce over things, double the ingredients for the sweet and sour sauce.

Adapted from Jaden Hair via Simply Recipes
Serves 4
*Double the ingredients for the sauce if you want to have extra for your rice

1 pound of boneless and skinless chicken thighs or breasts, cut into 1" chunks
1 egg white
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (1/4 teaspoon table salt)
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 10 ounce can pineapple chunks (reserve juice)
1/4 cup juice from the canned pineapple
1/4 cup white or red wine vinegar
1/4 plus 2 tablespoons cup ketchup
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (1/4 teaspoon table salt)
3 to 4 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon cooking oil
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1" chunks
1 yellow bell pepper, cut into 1" chunks
1 teaspoon grated ginger

In a bowl, combine the chicken, egg white, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and cornstarch. Mix and allow to sit at room temperature for 15 minutes, or overnight in your fridge.

In another bowl, mix together the pineapple juice, vinegar, ketchup, salt, and brown sugar to make the sweet and sour sauce.

Heat 1 tablespoons of oil in a large pan over high heat until it just reaches smoking point. The pan needs to be really hot, so don't rush this step. Put the chicken in the pan, making sure to spread it out so that it is all one layer. Leave the chicken cooking like this for a minute, until the bottom has browned. Again, be patient with this step. Flip the chicken and cook on the other side for another minute. Remove the chicken from the pan, leaving as much oil as possible in the pan, and keep in mind that the chicken will get cooked another 2 minutes later.

Reduce the heat to medium and add the remaining teaspoon of oil to the pan. Once hot, add the peppers and ginger. Fry for a minute or 2. Add the pineapple and sweet and sour sauce. Increase the heat to high. When the sauce begins to simmer, add the chicken pieces. Allow to simmer for another 2 minutes, until the chicken is cooked though. Taste the sauce and see if it is to your liking, if you want it sweeter, add some more brown sugar.

Serve hot over rice.

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