Between balancing classes, organizations and jobs, cooking for the average college student needs to be purposeful.
Food preparation must be worth the effort, yielding excellent results in the least amount of time possible. For this reason, when choosing meals to prepare for the average weeknight, there are some basic guidelines that are essential.
One, the food item must have simple ingredients.
Sure, food items prepared with more unique ingredients, think Kalamata olives, feta cheese, roasted red peppers, chipotle peppers in adobo, etc., are delicious and are great to try on occasion, they are simply too specific for the average weeknight meal. More often than not, any of these ingredients not used in the recipe initially will go to waste.
Recipes should include the basics, what you will likely have on hand plus a few fresh items from the store.
Two, the actual hands on time should be minimal. Meals that require 20 minutes or less of actual preparation work then can be thrown in the oven or left simmering on the stove are ideal.
Three, the recipe must maintain quality when reheated. When you take the time to cook, and time dedicated per week to cooking is limited, leftovers that eliminate the need to cook again are ideal.
Sweet and sour chicken has the above qualities, taking cubed chicken breasts, pan fried and coated in a sweet and tangy sauce.
Coating the chicken in beaten eggs and cornstarch creates a crisp crust when the chicken is browned in the pan.
The sauce ingredients include items that are not particularly unusual and can find their place in a variety of other meals. The meal takes only about 20 minutes of actual hands on time, before baking for about 45 minutes.
Once cooked, the sauce-coated chicken pieces are best served over hot cooked rice.
Sweet and Sour Chicken Ingredients:
5 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 ½ cup cornstarch
3 eggs, beaten
3 tablespoons canola oil
¾ cup granulated sugar
4 tablespoons ketchup
¼ cup white vinegar
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon garlic salt
Hot, cooked rice
Preheat the oven to 325 F.
Cut each chicken breast into bite-sized pieces.
In a small bowl, mix together the cornstarch, salt and pepper. Dip the chicken pieces first into the beaten eggs, then coat in the cornstarch mixture.
In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Fry the chicken in the pan, flipping to allow all sides to brown.
This process may require two batches to avoid crowding the chicken in the pan.
Once cooked, remove the chicken to a greased 9 x 13-inch baking dish.
In a separate bowl, mix together the sugar, ketchup, vinegars, soy sauce and garlic salt until smooth. Pour over the chicken in the dish and toss to coat.
Bake the chicken in the oven for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes to coat the chicken in the sauce.
Remove the chicken from the oven and serve over hot cooked rice.