The best weeknight recipes are those that are versatile enough to work not just with what you want, but also what you have.

As in this simple recipe for sweet-and-sour chicken. In a creative take on this classic Asian takeout, the lightly sweet and tangy chicken is intended to be nestled into a sub roll. But if you don’t have any or simply aren’t in the mood, it does just as well over noodles, wrapped in a flour tortilla or even – ready? – over rice.

Likewise, you could turn this into a sweet-and-sour beef or pork by using an equivalent amount of sirloin or pork tenderloin (adjust cooking times as needed). If vegetarian is more your style, cubes of extra-firm water-packed tofu would be delicious, as would the wheat protein known as seitan.

Even the sauce is agreeable to tinkering. For a spicy take, add a splash of hot sauce (sweet-and-heat-and-sour), a pinch of red pepper flakes or some finely diced jalapeno peppers.



Start to finish: 25 minutes

Servings: 4

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon seasoned rice vinegar

1 teaspoon hot sauce

2 tablespoons apricot or peach jam

1 tablespoon cornstarch

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch chunks

2 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 large yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced

1 large red bell pepper, cored and thinly sliced

1 large green bell pepper, cored and thinly sliced

1 cup chunk pineapple, and 1/2 cup of the canning juice

Salt and ground black pepper, to taste

Four 6-inch sub rolls

In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, vinegar, hot sauce, jam and cornstarch. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour and chicken, tossing to coat. Set aside.

In a large saute pan over medium-high, combine the butter and oil. Heat until the butter has melted. Add the chicken and brown on all sides, about 5 minutes.

Add the onion, both peppers and the pineapple juice. Saute until the chicken is cooked through and the onions are tender, about another 4 minutes. Add the pineapple, then cook until heated.

Stir in the soy sauce mixture and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Spoon chicken, vegetables and sauce into each sub roll.

Nutrition information per serving: 521 calories; 89 calories from fat; 10 g fat (3 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 106 mg cholesterol; 62 g carbohydrate; 47 g protein; 7 g fiber; 807 mg sodium.


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