I've been watching too many episodes of the Food Network show "Chopped".
It is addictive to watch as the chefs take mystery ingredients and turn them into culinary masterpieces. But at some point, I ceased to be an observer and became an armchair chef. I started thinking, "I could do that. Grab a few ingredients and turn them into something wonderful."
I should've stayed in my armchair.
I'd bought a pack of boneless chicken breasts on sale ($1.99 per pound - great stock up price!); I'd been craving fruit, and I'd bought a can of pineapple. So, when I was trying to decide what to make for dinner one night I thought, "chicken, pineapple... ha! Sweet and sour chicken!"
But I'd never made homemade sweet and sour chicken and wasn't sure what else the recipe called for, so I went online to find out - there were a lot of recipes!
As usual for me, though, I decided to not follow a particular recipe - I read what the basic ingredients are and then wing it.
With the ingredient ideas in mind, I headed for the kitchen, strutting like a "Chopped Champion," ready to attempt sweet and sour chicken.
After cutting up the chicken and a green pepper, I grabbed a bowl and started on the sauce.
"Pineapple juice...check. Vinegar...check. Sugar....check" and I tasted it. Too sweet.
More pineapple juice.
"It needs a little something else."
I added a little bit of diced onion to the chicken and green pepper frying in the skillet.
Some recipes called for soy sauce, some didn't. I added a few shakes and tried it again. The sauce tasted good, but the color was ugly; I was used to a nice red sweet and sour sauce. In some of the recipes people had used ketchup to color their sauce, but after finally getting the mix to taste right, I didn't want to upset it's balance by adding flavorful ketchup. I used the alternative - red food coloring.
Drop, drop into the bowl and stir.
"I wonder how much I should put in?" Drop.
"The sauce is usually really red"
Drop. Drop. Drop.
I tossed some pineapple into the pan with the chicken and veggies and prepared to finish the sauce.
The last ingredient I needed was cornstarch - which I didn't have. I substituted flour, stirred the mix vigorously, and added it to the pan.
Too much flour! As soon as the cold liquid hit the hot pan, it turned to batter!
Trying not to panic, I stirred in some water to loosen up the concoction. That worked okay, but then I watched in amazement as my lovely, pale chunks of chicken absorbed the red food coloring - and turned a shade of hot pink!
"Oh, my goodness!" I said aloud as I stirred and stared at my pink chicken.
Then the sauce transformed...into gravy...into a color which I think may have been mauve.
I made some instant rice - I followed the directions on the box exactly - and then served up my odd dish....
Ah, those talented chefs on "Chopped" make it look soooo easy!
But if you ever come to my house for dinner, you may get treated to an unusual meal of hot pink chicken in mauve gravy over wonderful rice.
We could eat it in the living room.
while sitting In the armchairs
and watching "Chopped."