Sweet and Sour Chicken

Weeknights are quick meal nights for us around here.  Between tennis, yoga, guitar and gymnastics, I am taking the kids everywhere to help them become one day a more “well rounded” person.  So when we get home at 6:30 on some nights, I need something that takes 20 minutes or less.  I usually crock pot something.  I tell you that machine is a life saver for weeknight meals.  But, even though I love me some slow simmered meals, sometimes I want something different.

And who doesn’t like a good stir fry with sauce.  If you have a bit of time in the morning or the night before, chop all your vegetables and chicken and store them in the fridge (separate containers of course).  If you are using fresh pineapple, cut and store that too.  Finally if you pre-mix your sauce you can also have that sitting and waiting for you in the fridge.  That is the key to the quick cook and eat…Preparation.

As soon as you get home, start the rice you will be serving with this dish.  I know brown rice is the healthy choice, but with this dish, I really do love a white rice version.  My go to is Basmati, but any kind will do.  Also, if you are really in a time crunch, use the pre-made frozen rice.  I think it tastes much better than the 5 minute stove top kind.  It is more expensive, but probably still cheaper and better for you than going out to eat.

Sweet and Sour Chicken on Stovetop

The sauce does thicken as it cooks…so if it tightens up too much, just add about 1/4 cup of water and stir.  Keep adding water 1/4 cup at a time until you get the desired thickness to the sauce that you like.

What is great about this is it is sweet.  My kids just gobbled it up.  Also, use the fresh pineapple if you can.  I feel it does make a huge difference in flavor and texture.  Don’t simmer the pineapple.  Just add it at the end when you turn the burner off.  That way it warms through, but doesn’t cook and become a mushy mess.

The meal (if you do your prep work) will take only around 20 minutes to come together, or the same amount of time as the pot of rice takes to cook through.

Let’s just say if we allowed licked bowls in this house, it would have happened.

You can substitute pork loin or shrimp, but I personally wouldn’t do beef.  I don’t know, I think beef is to “beefy” for this sauce.  But that is my opinion, you can do whatever floats your families boat :)

Sweet and Sour Chicken with Basmati Rice

Sweet and Sour Chicken with Basmati Rice

  • 1 cup Basmati Rice (or any other of your choice)
  • 1 – 1 1/2 lbs of Chicken, cubed (I like boneless, skinless thigh meat, but chicken breasts are great too.  Also think pork or shrimp)
  • 1 Green Bell Pepper, large chopped
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper, large chopped
  • 1 Yellow Onion, large chopped
  • 2 Carrots, peeled and sliced on a bias
  • 2 cups Pineapple, bite size chopped
  • 1 cup Pineapple Juice
  • 1/4 cup Ketchup
  • 1/4 cup White Distilled Vinegar
  • 1/4 cup Brown Sugar
  • 1/4 cup Soy Sauce
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 tsp Ground Ginger
  • 1 tsp Ground Mustard
  • 2 tbsp Cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp Vegetable Oil (or something similar)
  • 1 tsp Sesame Seed Oil
  • 1/2 tsp Ground Pepper
  • Salt to taste
  1. Chop the bell peppers, onion and carrots.  Store in a bowl.
  2. Chop the pineapple.  Store in a separate bowl from the vegetables.
  3. Dice the chicken and store in a bowl separate from the vegetables and pineapple.
  4. In a mixing bowl, combine pineapple juice, ketchup, vinegar, brown sugar, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, ginger, mustard, cornstarch and ground pepper.  Mix to combine.
  5. If you are cooking later, store all your items in the fridge at this point.  If you are cooking right away, continue to next step.
  6. Make your rice according to directions.  Usually it is 2 cups of water to 1 cup of rice and a 1/4 tsp of salt.  Bring the water to a boil, add rice and stir.  Turn the burner to the lowest setting, cover the saucepan and let the rice cook for 15-20 minutes, or until all the water is absorbed.  If you have the time, it is best to then turn off the burner and let the rice sit there covered for another 5 minutes before you fluff and serve.
  7. While the rice is being cooked, in a large saute pan (or wok), on medium high heat add the vegetable oil and the sesame seed oil to the pan.  When hot add the chopped raw chicken.  Saute for 5-8 minutes or until mostly cooked through.
  8. Now add the bowl of peppers, onions and carrots.  Continue to saute or relatively high heat for another 5 – 8 minutes.
  9. Lower the heat to medium low and now add your sauce mixture.  Stir to combine.  Continue to cook for another 10 minutes.  If the sauce gets too thick, add water to the pan 1/4 cup at a time until you get your desired thickness and texture.  Think glaze consistency.  Take a quick taste to see if the salt content is good.  Remember you can always add some more soy sauce or a pinch of salt if needed, but you can’t take it away.
  10. When the rice is done, turn off the saute pan burner and add the pineapple and combine to warm the pineapple through.
  11. To serve, put cooked rice on the bottom of the plate and then give a generous portion of the sweet and sour mixture.  If people like it spicy, serve it with Garlic Chili Paste or Sriracha Sauce.

Now go and make a quick and easy weeknight dinner of your own…Clink!

 

 

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