Chinese-style chicken with pineapple chunks and red bell pepper tossed in a sticky sweet & sour pan sauce and served over rice. The chicken is baked instead of fried, a trade-off that makes it easier, less messy and a lot quicker without sacrificing on taste. This is restaurant quality, if not better.
When I order this as take-out from my favorite Chinese restaurant they put the piping-hot, fried chicken into a plastic container with a tight-fitting lid. There’s no venting of the steam resulting in soggy, chewy, disappointing chicken. It’s definitely not the same quality as dining in.
You can use boneless chicken breasts or thighs. The recipe starts with cutting the chicken into cubes and tossing it with cornstarch. It’s spread out on a baking sheet and baked until cooked through.
While the chicken cooks you whisk together the sauce, made mostly of pantry ingredients including orange juice, ketchup, vinegar, soy sauce, a touch of sugar and Worcestershire sauce. It’s tangy and sweet with a pop of citrus that makes the flavors come alive.
The dish really starts coming together once you sauté the bell peppers, garlic and ginger together. Bite-sized pineapple pieces and the sauce along with a cornstarch slurry is whisked in to help thicken it up. The chicken gets tossed around for a few minutes to coat it completely in the sauce and help form a glaze.
One thing I should mention is you don’t want to overcook the sauce. As it reduces the flavors intensify and will reach a point where they become too strong. If the sauce looks a little thin keep in mind it will thicken as it stands. I like to remove it from the heat and let it sit for five minutes before I serve it. You will see that it thickens up considerably as it starts to cool.
The sauce is perfectly balanced and not overly sweet like some sweet & sour sauces I’ve had before. I’m thinking you could use pineapple juice in place of the orange juice in the sauce if you prefer but you may want to cut down on the sugar a little because it has a naturally sweeter flavor.
Of course baking the chicken doesn’t give it as crispy a coating as frying but I’ll tell you what: this fried-food-lover right here didn’t miss it all. The chicken turns out tender and succulent with a slight crispness to it on the outside that is every bit as good as the fried version.
Chinese takeout from your own kitchen will make soggy chicken a thing of the past.
Chinese-style chicken with pineapple chunks and red bell pepper tossed in a sticky sweet & sour pan sauce and served over rice. The chicken is baked instead of fried, a trade-off that makes it easier, less messy and a lot quicker without sacrificing on taste.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a large baking sheet from edge to edge.
- Add the chicken to a large bowl, season with salt and pepper, toss well. Sprinkle with half the cornstarch, toss then sprinkle with the remaining half and toss again (it will get thick and sticky).
- Use tongs to place the chicken on the baking sheet, close together but not touching, once you set them down don't move them. Bake until cooked through the center, 8 - 14 minutes depending on their size.
- In a medium mixing bowl whisk all the sauce ingredients together. Set aside.
- In a large skillet or wok heat a tablespoon of oil over medium-low heat and cook the bell pepper, stirring often, until tender. Add the garlic and ginger, cook until fragrant about 2 minutes.
- Add pineapple and sauce, turn heat up to medium, stir to coat and let cook 2 minutes. In a small bowl whisk the cold water and cornstarch together to make the slurry. Mix it into the sauce.
- Turn the heat back down to low. Use a thin metal spatula to scrape the cooked chicken up off the pan and add it to the sauce. Toss to coat well and keep tossing until a glaze starts to form - about 2 minutes. Don't cook much longer than that or the sauce will reduce down too much and the flavors may become too strong. Remove the pan from the heat. Let set 5 minutes to thicken up further.
- Sprinkle the chicken with sesame seeds and serve over rice.
Adapted from Appetite for China
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