I love Chinese food, but wouldn't say that I have varied tastes when it comes time to order take-out. Unless I'm at a Chinese buffet, which is rare, I tend to eat the same few things: Seasame Chicken, Fried Rice, occasionally Lo Mein, and Mr. Picky Eater's favorite Sweet & Sour Chicken. I enjoy an eggroll from time to time too, but typically I can take those of leave them. If I do eat eggrolls, duck sauce is a must for dipping. That little bit of sweetness just does it for me.
It's not a frequent meal at our house, but I love doing what I call "MYOT" (Make Your Own Take-Out) Chinese for dinner from time to time. Occasionally I'll do Teriyaki Chicken or Beef, but usually I go with Sweet & Sour Chicken. I've tried a number or variations on the sauce, everything from the stuff in a bottle to the packet of powdered stuff you mix with vinegar and soy sauce. I've seen quite a few different ways to do baked Sweet & Sour chicken, with plenty of rave reviews, so I decided to give it a try, with my own spin, of course. Based on the recipes I've found, the chicken is typically breaded and fried before being covered in sauce and baked. And, although I know when I order it in any Chinese restaurant it's always breaded and fried, which is decadent and fantastic, I decided to skip the mess of frying and make it healthier in the process. My way has no fat, other than what is in the boneless skinless chicken, which we all know is minimal.
Of course, I'm sure the fried and then baked versions are amazing, but my version is pretty darn great too, if I do say so myself. I can't decide if the best part is the awesome flavor or knowing that I can eat a plate full and not feel guilty that I've just consumed way more fat grams in one sitting than I should in an entire day. When comparing sauce recipes I saw everything from 3/4 to 1 1/2 cups of sugar. I decided to go with 1 cup, and that was a tad sweet, but I love adding soy sauce to mine after the fact so the added sweetness worked out fine for me. If you don't typically add soy sauce to your meal after it's plated up or you aren't a big fan of sweet I would cut the sugar back to 3/4 cup.
This would be great served with fried rice, but since I didn't plan ahead or have any leftover steamed rice in the fridge I served it with plain ol' white rice. When I make Sweet & Sour Chicken in the skillet I always stir-fry some veggies and add those in, but since this version is baked in the oven I added some carrots, green peas and broccoli to the rice cooker while I was steaming my rice. If you don't have a rice cooker or opt to steam your rice on the stove it should work just as well to add the veggies that way too. I added the carrots when I started the rice, then added the peas and broccoli in the last 5 minutes of cooking so they would remain a bit crunchy.
Sweet & Sour Chicken
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 50-60 minutes
Total time: 60-70 minutes
Yield: 5-6 servings
- 1 1/2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 3/4 to 1 cup (depending on desired sweetness granulated sugar
- 4 tablespoons ketchup
- 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- To make the sauce add all ingredients except chicken to a medium mixing bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside.
- Rinse and pat chicken breasts dry. Cut into approximately 1 1/2 inch cubes and add to 8 inch square baking dish.
- Pour sauce mixture over chicken cubes, stir so that all chicken is completely coated with sauce.
- Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour. Stir every 15-20 minutes while baking.
- Serve over steamed white rice or fried rice.