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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Baked Sweet and Sour Chicken

I had planned to share two recipes tonight, but I think the rice recipe needs a little tweaking first.  I found some recipes on Pinterest and decided to try them both at the same time.  The rice may have been a mistake, but the chicken... there was no mistake with the chicken.

I was worried after reading this recipe whether the chicken would be crispy enough.  When I was 9 or 10 and we would go to China Inn for lunch with Nana and Grandpa I always ordered the sweet and sour chicken, which came in its own bowl, with the vegetables and the sauce in separate bowls on the side.  That left the chicken with a delightfully crunchy crust on it instead of soggy and soaked in the sauce.  I loved that stuff.

See, this recipe does a couple of interesting things.  The first thing is that the chicken, once browned, is tossed in the sauce and baked for a whole hour!  That means the chicken with that awesome crispy coating is soaking up the sauce the whole time it bakes.  I thought I would end up with mushy chicken, but no!  The reason the chicken stays crispy is because of the second interesting direction in the recipe (which technically comes first in the recipe but... okay have I confused you yet because I'm confused.)

Anyway, the other interesting thing is that the instructions say to coat the chicken in cornstarch, then egg, then immediately put it in the frying oil.  I was so unsure.  I know that usually when you use egg to bread chicken it's a binder to stick the breading to the meat.  Why wouldn't you dip the chicken back in the cornstarch after the egg?

I'll tell you why!  The egg turns into the crispy coating, and because egg doesn't get soggy once it's been fried the coating stays crispy even in the sauce!  I was amazed.

Did I mention the sauce yet?  No?  It is sweet and tangy just like sweet and sour sauce should be and it caramelizes in the oven making the chicken a bit sticky.  I really loved this recipe and I hope you will too!

Baked Sweet and Sour Chicken

For the chicken:
1 1/2-2 lbs chicken breast, cut into cubes
1 cup cornstarch
2 eggs, beaten
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup vegetable oil (for frying)

For the sauce:
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup ketchup
1/2 cup white vinegar
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp garlic salt

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Mix all of the sauce ingredients in a medium bowl (I like to use a 2 cup glass measuring cup) with a fork until combined and set aside.  Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Season the chicken with salt and pepper.

Coat the pieces in the cornstarch, then dip in the egg.  Place the chicken in the oil and cook until the chicken is browned, but not necessarily cooked through.

Place the browned chicken in a 9x13 baking dish, sprayed with vegetable oil spray.

Pour the sauce evenly over the chicken and bake it in the oven for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.

Serve hot with some rice and veggies.

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