Better than Takeout: Cashew Chicken

While I’m a big proponent of eating at small, locally owned restaurants, there are a few big chain joints that serve up some pretty stellar dishes. Maybe it’s about the consistency, or that you can get an entire day’s ration of food on a plate, but every time I dine at Cheesecake Factory I leave satisfied. And nine times out of 10, Kenny and I split the Cashew Chicken. Spicy yet sweet. Juicy and tender. Oh, and that sticky Jasmine rice!

So when I came across this recipe for cashew chicken that was cooked in a crock pot, I was floored. Who needs takeout when you can cook up your very own Far East flavors at home? The chicken ended up surprisingly tender and the sticky/spicy/sweet sauce takes you right back to the Factory — yet you’re in the comfort of your pajamas on the couch.

Slow Cooker Cashew Chicken
adapted from The Recipe Critic
Serves 4-6

Ingredients
2 pounds boneless chicken breasts (about 4 pieces)
3 tablespoons cornstarch
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon canola oil
½ cup soy sauce
4 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
4 tablespoons ketchup
2 tablespoons sweet chili sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes (more or less, to taste)
1 cup cashews (I added more because I love them)

Directions
Combine cornstarch and pepper in a Ziploc bag and then add chicken. Shake to coat with cornstarch mixture. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Brown chicken about two minutes per side and then place in slow cooker.

In a small bowl, combine soy sauce, vinegar, ketchup, sweet chili sauce, sugar, garlic, ginger, pepper flakes and cashews; pour over chicken. Cook on low for 3 to 4 hours. Serve over Jasmine rice.

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