Tonight's Dinner: Italian sweet and sour chicken recipe

May 30, 2012 at 11:00 a.m. ET

When most people think of sweet and sour chicken, they immediately think of their favorite Chinese takeout. But who says sweet and sour has to include a thick syrupy sauce and little chopped up chicken bites?

One of my favorite choices when it comes to takeout is sweet and sour chicken. I love the green peppers and the bite-sized pieces of chicken that come drenched in that thick red sweet and sour sauce only found in Chinese restaurants. But then Mario Batali served up his version and I have to tell you, I'm actually torn. Yes, the Chinese version is much easier to eat (and order). But this Italian version is much classier and has a much more subtle flavor. It's still delicious, but if you're in the mood for something a little fancier than your basic Chinese takeout, this Italian sweet and sour is just the ticket.

Italian sweet and sour chicken

Serves 4


  • 4 boneless chicken breasts
  • 4 drumsticks
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped
  • 8 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup fruity red wine, like Chianti
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons capers


  1. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat two tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Add the chicken and cook until browned, about five minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside.
  3. Heat the remaining olive oil in the skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions, carrots, celery and garlic and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in the sugar, wine, vinegar, orange juice and capers and bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce the heat to low, return the chicken to the pan, cover and cook for 35 minutes, or until the chicken is no longer pink.
  5. Once the chicken is cooked through, transfer to a plate. Return the heat to high and boil the sauce until thick, about five minutes.
  6. Return the chicken to the skillet until warmed through. Transfer to serving plates, ladle the sauce over the chicken and serve.

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