When I’m deciding on our weekly meal plans, it’s part what food needs to be used up, part what mood I’m in and last what ingredients I see that I can “taste” on my tongue. I see a spice, condiment, produce item and all of a sudden can start to taste what I want to turn it into. This recipe started when I saw an overripe pineapple that really needed to be cut and eaten. Knowing that sweet, juicy flavour I wanted to incorporate it into dinner. Often I’ll add it to a ham I’m roasting if I want a sweeter ham, but we didn’t have one on hand. A quick look at the freezer and the chicken stood out. So, I had chicken, pineapple and wanted something I could recreate on a night where our time might be shorter or I could pre prep for a one dish meal. I remembered my mom had taught me an easy base for a sweet and sour sauce so decided to put it all together for a sweet and sour chicken dinner.
What You’ll Need
We are a family of 4 big eaters, so these portions are geared to that. You can lessen or increase based on your family’s needs.
3-4 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
2 Bell Peppers
1 Head of Garlic
1 Sweet Onion
1.5C Pineapple Chunks
1/4C White Vinegar
1C Brown Sugar
1 Tbsp sesame oil (Optional)
Salt to taste
Let’s Get Cooking!
Start by preheating your oven to 375F. Then begin cutting your chicken into cubes. I tried from frozen to see just how lazy I could be about this recipe, but definitely recommend using fresh, or defrosted chicken. You can use canned pineapple, but a fresh one will give you so much more flavour. If you don’t already have one cut up, slice a whole one into cubes and put the extra that isn’t needed for the recipe aside to enjoy as a snack later. Cut your peppers up by taking the tops off, removing the seeds and cutting into bigger squares. Do the same with the onion. Bigger pieces are nice in this recipe and are faster to prepare. Take your head of garlic and dice into small bits. Or, if you prefer garlic in oil, take about 1/4C for 4 chicken breasts, or lessen if using less chicken. If your family is not a fan of garlic, stick to 1/8C.
Once everything is diced up, put it into a casserole dish and mix it all up so pieces are evenly distributed. If you have sesame oil, drizzle the tbsp over the dish. I originally tried this as a slow cooker meal and while the flavour was fantastic, the chicken was not. I had forgotten that the vinegar in the sauce toughens the chicken up when cooked too long together. So, a quick cooking tweak and the chicken was much better. Take your casserole dish, cover and place in the oven. While the dish starts to cook, make your sweet and sour sauce. The first bit of cooking should be approximately 10-15 minutes.
The sauce is super simple to make. Place 1C dark brown sugar, 1/4C of ketchup, 1/4C of white vinegar and 1C of water into a pot. Turn the element on to just above medium. Shake a bit of salt to soften the acidity of the vinegar, about 1/2tsp. Keep whisking the ingredients as they warm. Whisk until the sugar has dissolved and the sauce starts to bubble. Turn the heat down to about a 3 and let it bubble a bit more until it begins to thicken a touch.
Once the sauce has started to thicken, remove the casserole dish from the oven. Pour the sweet and sour sauce on the chicken and vegetables and stir to coat. Place the dish back in the oven and increase the temperature to 400F to finish cooking. Leave the dish in for another 20-25 minutes to fully cook the chicken.
Remove from the oven and serve! I find this dish is best served on rice, especially a more delicate one like basmati or jasmine. Rice cooks easily while the chicken finishes in the oven, creating a whole meal within 30-40 minutes. With prep, this whole dish should be done and ready to eat within an hour. If you prefer having parts of it prepped earlier in the week so all you have to do is pull and bake, you can cut the veggies and store in the containers pictured above, or ziplocs bags. Both hold freshness well. I love the anchor containers for this reason. They are so multi use from freezer to fridge to oven. If you are making a smaller portion, you could even bake the dish in the anchor containers.
This dish is easy to eat as leftovers for lunch the next day. I don’t recommend freezing it once baked as peppers just do not hold up well once frozen, they get quite mushy. You could incorporate other vegetables like cauliflower, carrots if you would like more diversity. Switch it up a bit to match your family’s preferences as they key to a good dish is one that everyone will eat!