Sunday, May 29, 2011

Saucy Sweet and Sour Chicken

Sweet and sour dishes are a Chinese take out staple for many people, but they never appealed to me. The sauce was a bit too artificially sweet. The neon orange color a little too unnatural. The pineapple a touch too sad. The breading on the chicken limp and soggy after its car ride duration with its saucy companion.

Despite my aversion to the sticky sweet orange sauce, I decided to give this recipe a try. The list of condiments used to make the sauce was such an usual combination; my curiosity got the better of me.

adapted from a recipe by Better Homes and Gardens.

serves 4-6

The Ingredients:
2-1/2 to 3 lb meaty chicken pieces (breast halves, thighs, and drumsticks), skinned
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 of a 12-oz can (about 3/4 cup) frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed
3 Tbsp brown sugar
3 Tbsp ketchup
1 Tbsp vinegar
2 Tbsp cornstarch
2 Tbsp cold water

The Process:
Place chicken pieces in a 3-1/2- or 4-quart slow cooker. Sprinkle with salt. In a medium bowl, combine lemonade concentrate, brown sugar, ketchup, and vinegar. Pour over chicken in cooker.

Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 6 to 7 hours or on high-heat setting for 3 to 3-1/2 hours. Transfer chicken to a serving platter; cover and keep warm.

For sauce, pour cooking liquid into a medium saucepan. Skim off fat. Combine cornstarch and the cold water; stir into liquid in saucepan. Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir for 2 minutes more. Spoon sauce over chicken. Serve with hot cooked rice. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

The Review:
I was incredibly surprised by this recipe. The chicken may have cooked a touch longer than nearly 9 hours in the slow cooker the meat was falling off the bones, but also starting to dry out.

It needed the sauce. And this sauce was the perfect accomplice.

Unlike its take-out variety cousin, this version was a much deeper russet color. The sauce had a richer meaty flavor too...due to simmering with the chicken all afternoon. The sweetness and tanginess were still there. Who would have known frozen lemonade concentrate would create such a dish?

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