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Real Food Fast: Sweet & Sour Chicken with Pineapple

Even as a food writer, I often get into a rut when it comes to pulling together a quick, healthy, interesting meal for the boys (and often extended family across the street). Everyone loves it when we order Chinese food, which almost always includes sweet and sour chicken – it turns out it’s simple to make from scratch, without the batter and deep-frying method most take-out places use. It’s basically a quick stir-fry, to which you can add any number of fresh veggies – pea pods, broccoli, asparagus – whatever you like or is in season. I like using fresh pineapple, but you could save yourself a step with a can of pineapple chunks.

I don’t usually get all the ingredients prepped and ready to go when I’m cooking, but it does make things faster and easier when you’re doing a stir fry. If you like, swap turkey breast or pork tenderloin for the chicken.

Sweet & Sour Chicken with Pineapple

canola or olive oil, for cooking
1 lb skinless, boneless chicken thighs or breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 green, red or yellow pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
1-2 carrots, peeled and sliced
3-4 garlic cloves, sliced

1 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup ketchup
2 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. sesame oil (optional)

2 cups cubed fresh pineapple

steamed rice, for serving
chopped salted peanuts or cashews, for garnish (optional)

Heat a generous drizzle of oil in a large, heavy skillet set over medium-high heat. Cook the chicken for a few minutes (don’t worry about cooking them through), until starting to brown on all sides. Set aside. Add the pepper, carrots and garlic to the pan and saute for a few minutes, until starting to soften.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl stir the cornstarch into 1 Tbsp. cold water until completely dissolved. Stir in the stock, ketchup, sugar, rice vinegar, soy sauce and sesame oil. Set aside.

Add the chicken back to the pan along with the vegetables, and pour the sauce overtop. Bring to a simmer and cook until the sauce thickens and the chicken is cooked through. Stir in the pineapple and serve immediately, over rice, topped with nuts. Serves 4.

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