Mel’s Mystery Box Challenge – Sweet & Sour Chicken and Vegetable Stir Fry!

When Mel & Co were up visiting us recently I had a brainwave.  Give her a Mystery Box Challenge!   Being a Masterchef tragic myself I’ve always wanted to dump one of these on somebody…and I’ve found my perfect person!  (enter evil laugh here).

I thought it would make for a really fun evening for all the family and an amusing post to boot…..roll on!


A Mystery Box (to feed 8 people – 4 Adults and 4 kids….she’s got her work cut out for her!)


A whole free range chicken

A whole fresh pineapple

Cherry tomatoes

Hot Chilli Powder

String Beans



Brown Onion


1 x carrot


1. Create a meal of your choice using EVERY ingredient in the box;

2. You can use anything from the pantry/garden;

3. You have 2 hours


I tried to make it as easy as possible by giving her ingredients I thought could be used in 2 or 3 different styles of cooking.  She could have done Asian, Moroccan, Spanish, Portguese or even Chinese at a stretch.    I’m not sure if it was the pressure she was under ( the clock was ticking..!) however poor Mel looked a little flustered!!!

This is what she did… (in her own words)

Sweet & Sour Butterflied Chicken with Vegetable Stir Fry

Well I think the first thing I did after I opened up the box/tea towel and copped my eyes on the pineapple was swear a little at Danni. Fresh pineapple gives me mouth ulcers. I’m not a fan, I never use it – have never cut one up, so I admit, it threw me. Totally!

Mind you about half an hour in I admitted, that she did spoon feed the mixture of ingredients to me slightly.  They certainly could lead to a number of different dishes.  This did not stop me however, from stuffing up and losing my way…

I planned on attempting to somehow cook down the pineapple with the tomatoes, some garlic, onion and ginger to use as a kind of marinade. Spent a lot of time on that before I realised that it really wasnt going to work…

So, onto what eventually made the final product:

I washed out the chicken and patted it down with paper towel. Then butterflied it, by cutting along the breastbone and pushing down on the backbone with the heel of my hand to break and flatten it.

Meanwhile I cut up couple of rings off the pineapple chicken them in a pan with some Brown Sugaaaar (always has to be sung like the song – proof that Danni and I were somehow separated at birth) in attempt to caramelise it somehow and get the juices going.
Then I chucked some slivers of garlic under the skin of the chicken along with some butter and browned it off in the same pan I used for the pineapple.

I then popped the pineapple and some lemon wedges under the chicken and also spread some lemon zest over the chicken. This went, pan and all into an oven preheated at 180 degrees. I then realised I had forgotten the chili powder so literally dumped some on the top and spread it around in desperation!!

I then topped and tailed the beans, chopped the carrot, some more garlic and chili.
These got stir fried, along with some of the failed original mix (so I had my tomatoes and onion included!) and soy sauce. Added in some rice stick noodles and sesame seeds, and one side dish is ready – and the kids happy as there are nooodles for dinner!

Pulled out the chicken and finally, FINALLY dinner is ready to eat!

And total props to the Masterchef contestants, I am so crap at it. I’m never good at thinking on the fly, add in a bit of pressure and an audience and I was even more useless!

Just you wait until Danni gets her backside down to Tassie. There will be payback!

May I just add the last word – that Mel went over time by a good 20 mins doing this dish!! Proof that once you get flustered and thrown off course, its damn hard to get back into it!!   Dinner was tops, loads of flavour and all rules adhered to.  Kids were happy, Grown ups were happy – dinner was a success!!



  1. Congrats, Mel, great job, making everyone, including 4 kids happy, no easy task. Yep, there should be a payback.

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