Like any good Jew, I love Chinese food. There’s nothing better than feasting on salty, saucy takeout favorites like orange chicken, beef and broccoli, and lo mein. I wish that I could recreate these classic restaurant dishes in my own kitchen, but I have to be honest: Chinese food is one of the few things that I’m a little scared of tackling. I am usually quite adventurous when it comes to cooking and trying new recipes, but something about Chinese food still seems intimidating. The ingredient lists can be long and full of obscure ingredients. And the list of steps is usually even longer. Cutting up chicken into small pieces, breading the chicken, frying each piece, making the sauce, then cooking the chicken again in the sauce—that’s too much work for me when I can just as easily pick up the phone to order delicious takeout. Oops, I guess my love of cooking has failed me in the Chinese department.
That’s until I came up with an irresistible recipe for sweet and sour chicken that’s baked on the bone. No cutting, breading, or frying required. The chicken is baked in the oven and covered in the most delicious sweet and sour sauce. It’s tangy. It’s sticky. It’s dripping from every side of the chicken and I’m not apologizing. Toss in the classic pineapple, bell pepper, and onion, and you have yourself some classic Chinese fare bubbling away in your oven.
And since Christmas is on Shabbat this year, this Baked Sweet and Sour Chicken is the perfect substitute for the practically-religious tradition of going for Chinese on Christmas. This recipe will definitely be the star of your Chinese-inspired Shabbat menu.
Baked Sweet and Sour Chicken
1 cut-up chicken
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 1/2 cups sugar
2/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp paprika
3 Tbsp cornstarch
1 8-ounce can pineapple chunks (pineapple and juice)
1/2 onion, cubed
1/2 red bell pepper, cubed
1/2 green bell pepper, cubed
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Arrange the chicken skin-side up in a 9×13 baking dish and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Distribute pineapple chunks, onion, and bell pepper around the chicken.
To make the sweet and sour sauce: In a medium bowl, stir together sugar, apple cider vinegar, ketchup, soy sauce, garlic powder, paprika, and the juice from the canned pineapple until combined.To add the cornstarch without creating lumps, pour about 1 cup of the sauce mixture into a separate small bowl. Add the cornstarch, and stir until a smooth paste forms.
Add the cornstarch paste back into the sauce mixture and stir until combined.
Cook the sauce in a medium saucepan over medium heat until it boils. Reduce heat to a simmer and continue cooking for 7-10 minutes or until thickened, stirring frequently.
Pour about half of the sauce over the chicken, making sure to cover the chicken with sauce.
Cook in the oven for about 1 hour, or until the chicken juices run clear and the sauce has slightly caramelized on the chicken. Baste with the sauce after 45 minutes.
Serve over rice with the rest of the reserved sweet and sour sauce.
Pronounced: shuh-BAHT or shah-BAHT, Origin: Hebrew, the Sabbath, from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday.