Sweet and Sour Chicken

Taken from her 'Ready Meal Revolution' series published in the Guardian, Jack Monroe dissects and reconstructs this popular takeaway dish to make it cheaper, healthier and tastier.

A Year in 120 Recipes
From the book A Year in 120 Recipes


This recipe is from my ‘Ready Meal Revolution’ series published in the Guardian, where I dissected and reconstructed popular takeaways and ready meals to see if I could make them cheaper, healthier and tastier. Okay, so it’s not quite as easy as dialling the local Chinese and getting it delivered to your door, but it’s pretty simple.


300g boneless chicken thighs
1 tbsp oil, sunflower or groundnut
1 onion
2 fat cloves of garlic
1 fresh red chilli, or a pinch of dried chilli flakes
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
200g carrots, fresh or tinned and drained
a thumb of fresh ginger
1 x 230g tin of pineapple
70g tomato purée
salt and pepper


1. First, dice the chicken into manageable chunks. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan and toss in the chicken to brown and seal. Stir to stop the pieces sticking to the bottom of the pan.

2. When the chicken is golden, lift it out of the pan onto a plate and set it aside. Peel and dice the onion, peel and finely chop the garlic, and slice the chilli, if you’re using a fresh one. Toss them into the pan (add the dried chilli flakes, if using), with the vinegar, and saute over a medium heat until softened. Wash the fresh carrots, if using, then slice them. Cut tinned ones into chunks. Peel and grate the ginger – you need ½ teaspoon.

3. Tip the pineapple, including the juice, and the carrots, into the pan, then stir in the tomato puree and grated ginger.

4. Bring to a vigorous boil, then reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes to cook the chicken through and thicken the sauce. Taste, and season.

Tip: For a vegetarian alternative, replace the chicken with diced peppers or broccoli – or any vegetables you fancy.

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