Weeknight Shorts: Asian Pineapple Chicken

Sweet and sour chicken is a favorite in my home, but we go about it a little differently than most takeout joints. First, there's none of that deep fried stuff going on - it just doesn't need it. Also, I like to up the veggie and fruit content by including broccoli, pineapple (both chunked fruit and juice), and onions. Does anyone complain? No. Finally, instead of the neon orange sauce that accompanies the aforementioned takeout, a quick sauce is assembled using your favorite barbecue sauce (I use Sweet Baby Ray's), soy sauce, ginger, pineapple juice, and rice vinegar. It tastes better and I know what's in it. That's good for me and mine.

Can you tweak this recipe? Of course! You can use pork or tofu instead of chicken - or things instead of breast meat. Lots of different veggies will work beautifully here - though larger chunks work particularly well with this sweet and sour sauce. I'd leave the sauce more or less as is since you can have trouble with both flavor and consistency with a lot of swaps.

I like having this stir-fry over rice or ramen. It's a little on the chunky side to use in lettuce or rice wraps, so set your sights on a bowl of delicious. And guess what? It can be on the table in a mere 20 minutes!

Asian Pineapple Chicken

  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • ½ teaspoon salt , or to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper , or to taste
  • 1 can pineapple chunks, drained and liquid reserved (see below)
  • ½ red onion , chopped coarsely
  • 2 cups broccoli flowerets
  • 2 garlic cloves , minced
  • ⅓ cup BBQ sauce
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ cup pineapple juice from the canned pineapple
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • ½ tablespoon cornstarch
  • Black sesame seeds, optional

Heat the sesame oil in a large pan over medium high heat. Add the chicken pieces and season them with salt and pepper. Cook the chicken, stirring occasionally, until it is no longer pink, about 5 minutes.

Add the pineapple, onion, and broccoli to the pan and cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender-crisp. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds, until fragrant. Stir in the BBQ sauce, soy sauce, ground ginger, pineapple juice, and rice vinegar. Season with salt and pepper, if needed.

In a small bowl, mix the cornstarch with one tablespoon of cold water until it is dissolved. Pour this mixture into the pan and stir to combine. Cook until the sauce has thickened and coats the chicken and vegetables. Serve over hot cooked rice or ramen.

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 20 minutes