Sugar Dish Me

"if you can read, you can cook" -my momma

It’s Sticky Chicken

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If I ever ask my children what they want for dinner, I get a handful of standard answers: pizza, tacos, cheeseburgers, or, “Hey, we could go to the China Buffet. We haven’t been out to eat in awhile and it’s pretty cheap.”

“Cheap” is a relative term when you’re 11. I would love to go on a chinese buffet salt binge as much as the next person, but it’s not in the cards. Also, with choices like pizza and cheeseburgers I’m thinking that letting 8 and 11 year old boys plan the menu might mean I have to run in place for 3 hours… and I really don’t have time for that.

If we actually order chinese food, both of my boys go for the standard sweet fried and fattening fare: sesame chicken OR bourbon chicken (my kids will happily interchange the two), also known in this house since they were really little as sticky chicken. And really, who among us DOESN’T like bourbon chicken? Everyone loves bourbon chicken. It’s why you change your route through the food court in the mall so they will FORCE you to take one of those addictive little samples on a toothpick.

 So I thought I might try to produce a bourbon-chicken-like meal in my own little kitchen. It turned out great (I didn’t make enough which explains why Chinese food is always served buffet-style…) and I didn’t even have to make a trip to the liquor store (but you can if you want).

I cut boneless skinless chicken breast into bite-sized pieces and browned it in a skillet with a little vegetable oil and some cornstarch. Remove the chicken from the skillet and set it aside. If you have bourbon add it now to the chicken while it rests.

Add the remaining ingredients to your skillet and cook over medium heat stirring frequently until the sauce has a nice even consistency. Then add your chicken pieces and bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for about 20 minutes. You can also stir in more cornstarch if your sauce needs thickening. I served our bourbon chicken over jasmine rice with sweet carrots. White or brown rice would have been just fine here, too.

So skip the China Buffet and put the take out menu back in the drawer. You might just have everything you need to make sticky chicken in your cabinet already!

Sticky Chicken


1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into bite size pieces (next time I make this I will definitely double the recipe, so you may want to keep that in mind)

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1/2 cup bourbon (optional… i should mention it’s a really good option)

2 cloves garlic, finely minced

1/4 teaspoon ginger

3/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/4 cup apple juice

1/3 cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons ketchup

1 tablespoon cider vinegar (or rice wine vinegar if you have any on hand. It’s sweeter)

1/2 cup water

1/3 cup low sodium soy sauce (low sodium is important here– regular soy sauce is too salty and you would miss the sweetness from the sugar and the apple juice)

To Make

Heat oil in a large non stick skillet. Coat the chicken pieces with the cornstarch and brown the chicken in the skillet. Remove the chicken and set aside in a bowl. If you are using bourbon, add it to the browned chicken while it rests and you make the sauce. Add the remaining ingredients to the skillet and stir frequently over medium heat until everything is combined. Pour the chicken (and the bourbon) back into the skillet and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer over medium low heat for about 20 minutes, stirring occassionally. Chicken will be tender and sauce will thicken as it cooks (if your sauce needs thickening add just a little cornstarch while it simmers). Serve over rice and top with chopped green onions if desired (they will make it pretty).


Written by Heather @ Sugar Dish Me

October 7, 2011 at 9:19 am

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