I’ve Got The Power: Sweet & Sour

I’ve Got the Power: Sweet & Sour

I’ve got the power, power… It’s gettin’ it’s gettin’ it’s gettin’ kinda hectic
It’s gettin’ it’s gettin’ it’s gettin’ kinda hectic….

Ok, kill the music.

Sorry about that. Sometimes I like to dance when I cook. And who wouldn’t with an easy recipe for sweet & sour chicken that will tingle your senses and curl your toes. Bet you never thought sweet & sour chicken could do that. Trust me. If done right, this recipe will rock your world!

A few things up front:

1. You should know your way around the kitchen (i.e., know the difference between a skillet and a sauce pot – if not, there’s a great mac and cheese dish that comes in a box).
2. No substitutions. Use the ingredients called for, no exceptions. If you modify the recipe, you do so at your own risk.
3. This recipe scales nicely if you’re inclined to serve a large dinner party.

Prepare the Chicken:

1. Carve three or four large chicken breasts into bite size pieces and brown in a skillet over medium to medium-high heat until done. A little PAM or olive oil goes a long way. Stir the chicken pieces frequently so they don’t burn. You’re aiming for light brown – not charcoal black. Do not season to taste. Adding salt, pepper or your favorite chicken seasoning will alter the sauce’s flavor.
2. Set the chicken aside and start the sauce.

Prepare the Sauce:

• ½ cup chicken broth
• ½ cup pineapple syrup
• 1 ½ teaspoons ketchup
• 1 ½ teaspoons soy sauce
• 6 Tablespoons white wine vinegar
• 3 Tablespoons dark brown sugar
• ¼ cup onion slices
• 1 cup pineapple chunks (from can of heavy syrup)
• 1 green pepper carved into small slices

  • NOTE: For the chicken broth, use fresh chicken bouillon cubes or the instant chicken bouillon in a jar, not the long forgotten stash that’s been hiding in your pantry since Clinton took office.
  • NOTE: Don’t get health conscious and buy the can of pineapple chunks in juice. You must use the pineapple chunks/rings packaged in heavy syrup. I’ve been there, tried that with the juice substitution, and it doesn’t end well.

1. Add the liquid ingredients to a sauce pot, followed by the dark brown sugar. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Add the onion and green pepper. Reduce heat to simmer.

  • NOTE: If you’re so inclined, you can thicken the sauce by mixing two tablespoons of cold water with two tablespoons of corn starch and adding the solution to the sweet & sour sauce as you stir. However, adding this corn starch solution tends to dilute the sauce’s scintillating flavor and should be used judiciously until the sauce begins to thicken. And don’t go crazy trying to thicken the sauce too fast. Be patient. Adding too much corn starch solution will turn the sauce to jelly – at least that’s what I’ve heard.

2. Add the cup of pineapple chunks to the sweet & sour sauce and serve over egg noodles or steamed rice. I prefer the rice myself. But serve the Jasmine rice, not the cheap stuff they sell in sandbag quantities.

3. Taste the results. WOW! That will give you something to dance about.

That’s enough about cooking. Before this blog turns into an episode of The Food Channel, you should know that I booked an interview with a very funny comedian. I’ll post the transcript from our conversation in my next blog. In the meantime, keep the wheels on the road. And never ride faster than your angel can fly.

Jason M.

Keep Your Eye on the Pie

Finally, after 30+ years of consuming more pizza than a conveyor belt oven, the medical community has finally reached the conclusion I’d arrived at years ago: cheese pizza actually does a body good!

Now I’m the first to admit that overindulging in anything good will eventually lead to something bad.  Stay with me. I’m still talking about food.

I also admit that I have a cheese pizza habit, and I’m proud to state that I’ve taken the first step to recovery by acknowledging my addiction to pie, an addiction that started long ago with dinner at a German gasthaus named Romantica outside of Ramstein AFB – a family-owned bar and restaurant that served a thin crust pizza with a delicate flavor and just the right amount of sauce and cheese to make you drool. Yes, it was that good.

If there’s pizza in heaven, it came from Romantica. For me, it was love at first sight, smell, and taste. An infatuation with an oven-baked product that put its hooks in me and never let go. There are many foods I can live without. Pizza will never be one of them.

So how is it possible that something so delicious can actually be good for you? Check out “The Doctors Book of Healing Foods” and find out. Among various other tidbits of useful knowledge, the book explains how pizza can help you live longer by preventing cancer, heart disease, and even Alzheimer’s! Talk about a miracle drug.

So what’s the secret?

Aside from wishful thinking, the sauce.

It turns out that the processed tomato sauce in pizza is loaded with disease-fighting compounds such as lycopene (a powerful antioxidant) and vitamin C. Some studies have shown that lycopene is known to help fight many different types of cancer and that people who eat pizza at least once a week (like that’s a problem) are much less likely to develop colon, mouth, lung, or even prostate cancer. Tomato sauce and healthy vegetable toppings aside, the pizza dough itself is known to be high in antioxidants.

So the next time someone asks if you’ve had your vitamins lately, tell them you’ve got it covered – with a chewy crust, a tangy sauce, and a thin layer of mozzarella cheese. I know my favorite pizza place delivers on its promises. Let’s hope the medical research does the same.