April 28, 2011

Sweet and sour chicken

This recipe is inspired by Nigella Lawson's recipe of the same name in her Nigella Kitchen cookbook. While many of the ingredients are similar, I did change it up quite a bit for what I had on hand to use.

When I hear "sweet and sour chicken" it conjures up a picture in my head of deep fried chicken chunks served with a neon orange sauce from many a Chinese restaurant. I think that this recipe is a healthier choice, plus it's really easy to make and tastes great. While there is a bit of salt and sugar in the sauce, I'm willing to bet that it's better than the neon orange sauce that you would get if you brought home some take-out food instead. Feel free to add more/different vegetables in this recipe. Snow peas, baby corn, water chestnuts (as suggested by Nigella), and carrots all come to my mind as good choices. This meal will serve about four people. 

Sweet and sour chicken
olive oil for cooking
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced, greens and whites separated
2 bell peppers, seeded and cut into bit-sized chunks
1-1.5 lbs skinless and boneless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon cumin
8 oz. bean sprouts
2 tablespoons minced cilantro, optional
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 cup pineapple juice
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar (more or less to get the right "sour" taste)
sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper, to taste
2 cups rice, cooked to package directions, for serving

In a large wok or skillet, heat about 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil until hot. Add the garlic, white parts of the scallions, and bell pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the chicken thighs to the skillet along with the cayenne pepper, cumin, salt and pepper. Stir and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

In a large bowl, whisk together all the sauce ingredients (honey through rice wine vinegar). Add to the skillet and bring to a boil. Put a lid on the skillet and reduce the heat to simmer. Cook for about 15 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.

Stir in the bean sprouts and scallion greens. Check for seasoning. When the bean sprouts are heated through, serve immediately with rice and top with the cilantro, if using.

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