I don’t know about you, but I LOVE Sweet and Sour Chicken! What I don’t LOVE are all the calories and fat associated with the fried variety you get at your favorite Chinese restaurant. So, I was really excited when my friend, Aimee asked me for a homemade recipe for Sweet and Sour Chicken…Yippee, I get to play with food again! Thanks….Aimee! I hope you like what I came up with for Healthy Sweet and Sour Chicken!
The first thing you may notice is the color difference. NO red sauce here…that’s because I decided to leave out ketchup! I also used white sugar instead of brown sugar just because I liked the clean look of a very light sauce. I think it may have been at PF Chang’s when I first saw a “non-pink” sweet and sour chicken dish. So call me a copy cat…I liked the look of that dish much better than the pink hued, thick gooey ones, so I knew immediately I was designing my recipe to have a light colored sauce! I know it looks like a bowl of chicken, rice and veggies….but I assure you it’s much, much more than that! It’s Healthy Sweet and Sour Chicken at it’s finest!
Another dish that has been kitchen tested and husband approved….twice! We really liked it, so I made it again a few weeks later. Good thing I did, because I realized I had forgotten to write down measurements for several different ingredients! I can throw dishes together all day long, but let me tell you…writing a recipe is seriously hard work! Another reason why I welcome feedback on dishes people make following my recipes…I’m not even pretending that I’m perfect! Anyway, back to the Healthy Sweet and Sour Chicken….
Ingredients you’ll need for Healthy Sweet and Sour Chicken:
- Red Bell Peppers
- Green Bell Peppers
- Sweet Vidalia Onions
- Chicken Breast
- White Sugar
- Chicken Stock
- Canned Pineapple
- Red Pepper Paste
- Rice Vinegar
- Corn Starch
- Salt and Pepper
In a medium size mixing bowl or a large (4 cup) liquid measuring cup, mix together 1/2 cup of Pineapple juice from can, 1/4 cup Rice Vinegar, 1 tsp Salt, 1/2 teaspoon Pepper, 3 minced garlic cloves and 1 tsp red pepper paste. Trim and cube chicken breast and place in a bowl. Use about 1/2 the marinade to cover chicken cubes and allow to marinate for about 30 minutes. Reserve the remaining marinade to create the sauce later.
Cut up peppers and onions into chunks. Heat 1-2 Tablespoons of olive oil into large saute pan on medium heat. Add Chicken coated with marinade and allow to cook, stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink. Drain marinade from chicken.
Return Chicken to saute pan and add 1/8 cup of sugar to chicken and stir to coat. Cook on medium low for 5 minutes, stirring constantly until chicken pieces are browned. Remove from pan and reserve for later.
Heat the saute pan on medium heat and add 1/4 cup of chicken stock. You will hear some sizzling once the liquid hits the hot pan. Using a spatula, loosen the dark pieces that have adhered to the bottom on the pan. This is called deglazing and the brown bits you remove from the bottom and sides of the pan are full of flavor and will help develop our sauce. Add in vegetables, remaining sugar, salt and reserved marinade. Cook over medium heat for about 5-7 minutes or until the vegetables are just starting to get soft.
Once the vegetables are soft, turn the heat to low. Do not worry that the sauce is so thin, that’s where the cornstarch comes in. I like to start off with 1Tablespoon of Cornstarch in a small bowl and about 1 Tablespoonof juice from the saute pan or plain water, mix well. This is called a cornstarch slurry. Add the cornstarch mixture to the saute pan and bring to a boil. The only way to activate the thickening agent in the cornstarch is to bring it to a boil. You will begin to see your sauce thicken. You can continue to add cornstarch (mixed with water) until you obtain the desired thickness of the sauce. Remember to bring sauce to a boil between each addition so you can really see the thickness of the sauce. I ended up using 2 Tablespoons of cornstarch and I liked the consistency of my sauce, but it could have even been a little thicker. Be careful not to over boil the sauce or the starch will break down and it will become thin again.
Reduce heat to low and add in can of pineapple chunks along with any juice remaining in can. Add in chicken and stir to combine. Cover and simmer on low for 3 -5 minutes or until everything is warm. Serve over rice (Jasmine is my fav) or lo mein noodles and Enjoy!
Healthy Sweet and Sour Chicken
- 1-2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 2 lbs Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast
- 2 Red Bell Peppers
- 2 Green Bell Peppers
- 2 Vidalia Onions
- 1/4 Cup Chicken Stock
- 1 Can 20 ounce of Pineapple Chunks
- 1/4 Cup White Sugar
- 1-3 Tablespoons Corn Starch
- 1/2 Cup Pineapple juice from can
- 1/4 Cup Rice Vinegar
- 3 Garlic cloves Minced
- 1 Teaspoon Red Pepper Paste
- 1 Teaspoon Salt
- 1/2 Teaspoon Pepper
For the Marinade
- Mix Pineapple juice, rice vinegar, minced garlic, red pepper paste, salt and pepper together in a medium bowl.
- Trim and cube chicken breast and place into a bowl. Pour about 1/2 the marinade over the chicken and allow to sit for 30 minutes.
- Cut the Peppers and Onions into chunks
- In a large saute pan add 1-2 Tablespoons of olive oil and heat on medium. When hot, add chicken coated with marinade. Cook on medium for about 5 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink. Remove from pan and drain using a colander.
- Return Chicken back to saute pan and turn on medium low. Add 1/8 cup of sugar to chicken and toss to coat.
- continue to cook until chicken is browned and cooked through, about 5 minutes.
- Place chicken in a clean bowl.
- Heat saute pan over medium heat and add in chicken stock. Deglaze the pan and add in vegetables, remaining 1/4 teaspoon of salt, remaining 1/8 cup sugar and remainder of the marinade. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes or until vegetables just start to soften.
- Combine 1 Tablespoon of cornstarch with 1-2 teaspoons of sauce from saute pan. Mix until smooth and pour into saute pan. Bring to boil for about 3 minutes. Repeat 1-2 more times until your sauce is the consistency you like.
- Once the sauce is thick enough, turn heat to low and add pineapple chuncks and chicken, stir to combine. Cover and simmer on low for about 5 minutes or until warm. Serve over rice or lo mein noodles. Enjoy!