One of the downsides of living in the woods is that you're a long, long ways from takeout food. Growing up "in town" we had one option for takeout - pizza from the local (and kind of infamous) pizza joint. Since my family considered this pizza overpriced tourist fare, we inevitably made our own pizza rather than ordering out. Now that I live a good hour away from town, dining options are even more limited. Sure, there are a couple restaurants in the woods, but with Andy and I penny-pinching to the max this summer, if we have a craving for a certain restaurant food, we try to recreate it at home.
I've been working for a while to recreate my Chinese takeout favorites, a love that harkens back to my college days. Although my friend and I always hit up the Chinese buffet whenever I visit her in the Cities, do we even want to know what ingredients they use at the buffet?! Making the dishes at home allows me to enjoy them with a slightly less guilty dietary conscience. But it's not easy to find recipes that hits all of the notes necessary to really make my Chinese takeout chimes ring. To date, I've found a good (although unconventional) sweet and sour sauce to use in chicken stirfry and a great recipe for beef and broccoli that I actually make with venison.
When I saw the pin for Crock Pot Honey Sesame Chicken on Pinterest, I knew I had to try it. It looks pretty tempting, doesn't it?
So tempting in fact, that Andy actually called me from work on Monday to remind me to start it.
I wasn't sure if the directions were written for older and new crockpots (the highs and lows can be different temperatures on crockpots, depending on when they were manufactured), but I discovered my crockpot played well with the directions. My chicken was "just done" after two hours in the crockpot at high, just like the directions said it would be. Good to know.
I love the (grease-laden) crispy green beans they always serve at Chinese buffets, so I served some homegrown, steamed green beans on the side. Not exactly the same thing, but a much healthier alternative. Here's what our Chinese take-out ended up looking like. (Forgive the bad lighting.)
The chicken was certainly moist and tender, but the sauce needed something else if it was to move into the "this is so good" file. The sauce was sweet and salty, but with an odd aftertaste. Kind of like all the ingredients in the sauce didn't play that well together, especially after simmering together at low heat in a crock pot for a few hours.
The recipe calls for 2 tablespoons of ketchup, which I questioned from the get-go. Maybe the ketchup was there for tang, but it only seemed to add a strange sweetness. Andy recommended using less honey the next time I make it (which, honestly, I'm not sure I will), but I think I'd stick with the same amount of honey and instead add some vinegar or lemon juice to cut the sweet and give the sauce some more complexity. Instead of ketchup, I might opt for some plain ol' tomato sauce.
So there you have it. A perfectly fine dinner brought to you by Pinterest. But not one I would consider "company fare" or one that I would even make again without a few tweaks here and there so it better suits our tastebuds. Operation Chinese Takeout is still a work in progress.
Have you had success with your Pinterest projects?Do you have a favorite "takeout" recipe that you make at home?