Kung Pao Chicken with Sweet Peppers

This May’s Food Focus article, written by Contributing Editor Kelsey Casselbury, aims to help you hatch the best plan for serving nuanced chicken and egg recipes that won’t ruffle any feathers. The recipe below, for Kung Pao Chicken, might be just the thing to pack some punch into your food for some sunny-side-up service!


100 (1 cup rice, 4.2 ozs. chicken/vegetable)

Per Serving

363 cal., 7.3 g fat, 22 g fat, 50 g carb., 4.6 g fiber, 314.7 mg sod.

Meal Pattern

2-oz.-eq. meat/meat alternate, 2-oz-eq. whole grain, ¼ cup red/orange vegetables

Marinade Ingredients

6 Tbsps.                      Cornstarch

2/3 cup                       Soy sauce, reduced-sodium

2 Tbsps., 2 tsps.           Kosher salt

¼ cup                         Olive oil

6 Tbsps.                     Sherry vinegar*

18 lbs.                        Chicken, raw, dark meat, skinless, boneless

Sauce Ingredients

6 Tbsps.                      Cornstarch

½ cup                         Reduced-sodium soy sauce

½ cup                         Granulated sugar

1 cup                          Sherry vinegar*

6 Tbsps.                     Sesame oil

1 Tbsp., 1 tsp.             Crushed red pepper

2 cups                        Water

Vegetable Prep Ingredients

¼ cup                         Olive oil

½ cup                         Garlic, chopped

½ cup                         Ginger, chopped

1 lb.                           Scallions, sliced

10 lbs., 4 ozs.              Red or orange bell peppers

Rice Prep Ingredients

14 qts.                        Water

7 qts.                          Long-grain brown rice, uncooked

  1. To prepare the marinade: Dissolve 6 Tbsps. cornstarch into 2/3 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce. Mix in the salt, olive oil and sherry vinegar.
  2. Place the chicken in a large container with a lid. Pour the marinade over top of the chicken. Mix well to coat it thoroughly. Cover the container and refrigerate for up to two hours.
  3. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lay the chicken onto parchment-lined sheet pans in one layer. Cook chicken for 15-20 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F.
  4. Remove the chicken from the oven and slice into strips. Hold hot for service.
  5. To prepare the sauce: In a large pot, dissolve second 6 Tbsps. of cornstarch with the ½ cup soy sauce, then mix in the sugar, vinegar, sesame oil, crushed red pepper and 2 cups water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until the sauce has thickened. The sauce can also be heated in a steamtable pan in the oven. Hold warm for service.
  6. In a large mixing bowl, mix ¼ cup olive oil, garlic, ginger, scallions and bell peppers. Mix well to ensure the vegetables are thoroughly coated with the oil.
  7. Lay the vegetables on parchment-lined sheet pans and roast in the oven at 375°F until the peppers are tender; don’t overcook.
  8. Remove the roasted peppers and garlic, etc. from the oven, mix with the sauce and place in steamtable pans. Keep warm.
  9. Bring water to a boil. Place the uncooked rice in a steamtable pan and pour the boiling water over the rice. Cover tightly with foil and bake in a 350° oven for approximately 50 minutes, or until the rice is tender and all the water is absorbed. (You can also prepare rice according to package directions.)
  10. Portion 1 cup of rice, top it with a 4-oz. spoodle of the pepper mixture and 2 ozs. of the cooked chicken on top. 

*Note: You can use a red wine vinegar or rice vinegar in place of the sherry vinegar; note that the flavor of the marinade and sauce will change.

Recipe, Photo, Nutrition and Meal Pattern Analysis: School Meals Featuring California Food, Center for Ecoliteracy, www.ecoliteracy.org

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