Coconut Chicken

Figuring out what to make for dinner can often become a boring, unimaginative event.  We all get stuck in ruts and find ourselves making the same thing over and over again.  Every once in a while, I like to use an ingredient that I don’t normally cook with and add it to our main dish. Sometimes it doesn’t work (ask any member of my family about the orange chicken event) and sometimes you make Coconut Chicken.   I stumbled upon this recipe for coconut chicken and realized that I never use coconut when I make dinner.  I usually don’t have coconut in the house.  I’m not a fan of its texture when it is used raw on baked goods.  However, this chicken had great reviews and given the other ingredients, it sounded like something my family would enjoy.  It is now one of our family favorites!  Whenever the kids ask “What’s for dinner” and the reply is “Coconut Chicken” I get a big “Yes!” out of everyone.  🙂  This recipe is also easy to adapt.  Sometimes my youngest doesn’t want the coconut on her chicken.  It’s too easy to just bread her chicken without the coconut and continue on with dinner.  The original recipe called for the chicken to be fried in oil.  We don’t fry anything at our house, so I decided to bake it.  Either way would be yummy.

Just a couple of kitchen items to mention in this post.  You will have to flip your chicken strips halfway through cooking.  You can do this with a fork.  However, that is not always the most graceful method when you are making this dish.  I love to have a great set of kitchen tongs to use for recipes like this.  I cannot find the brand of tongs that I currently own.  These tongs are top rated on Amazon.  http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00KDV5RZY?keywords=kitchen%20tongs&qid=1444308671&ref_=sr_1_4&sr=8-4  You will use your tongs for bacon, for grilling, for tossing salad, and many other uses.

I also recommend that you use parchment paper to line your baking sheets.  Parchment paper is the greatest thing.  This is different from wax paper.  Please don’t get them confused.  Parchment paper makes a surface non-stick and it can go in the oven.  I use parchment paper when I am baking and roasting vegetables.  I use it at least a couple of times a week.  It’s a great pantry item to have on hand.

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  You will also use a couple of ingredients that you might not be familiar with and I will highlight those for you.

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Panko bread crumbs are found in a couple of different places in grocery stores.  Sometimes they are in the aisle with the other bread crumbs  In the commissary, they are found in the Asian aisle. Panko bread crumbs are lighter and crispier and bigger than a traditional bread crumb.  They give the chicken a nice texture in this dish.

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The dipping sauce for this recipe is a sweet chili pepper sauce.  It is spicy, but not burn your mouth spicy.  We just use the sauce straight out of the bottle.  We don’t add anything to it.  This is the bottle that I purchased from the commissary in the Asian aisle.  In Mt. Carmel, I found this item over by the marinades and BBQ sauces.  It was made by Frank’s.

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Coconut milk is another ingredient you probably do not use very often.  I buy it in a can and I find it in the Asian aisle.  It doesn’t have a strong coconut flavor.  It is very thick.  You need to make sure to shake your can before you open it and stir it very well once it is open.  Coconut milk tends to separate in the can and the solid will be at the bottom and the liquid will be at the top. Just stir it well before you pour it or you chance using coconut milk in your egg mixture. 🙂

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Let’s cook!  This recipe does require a little extra prep time.  You will also get your hands dirty.  This is a fun recipe to let the kids help with.  My kids love to dip the chicken for me.

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FIrst up, prepare your stations.  You will need 3 bowls for this meal.  The first bowl contains flour and salt and pepper.  The second bowl contains eggs and coconut milk.  The coconut milk is completely optional in this dish.  I find that it gives the wet mixture a thicker texture.  It does not make your dish have a stronger coconut flavor.  Feel free to only use eggs if that is what you have.   The third bowl contains the panko bread crumbs and shredded coconut.  I like to place these bowls in order and then put the pan right next to them so that I can have an easy assembly line.

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The next step is to prepare your chicken.  You can use chicken tenderloins for this recipe and save yourself the cutting step.  However, chicken breasts were so much cheaper at the commissary and it was too easy to slice these into pieces.  If you use chicken breasts, cut them into about 1/2 inch thick slices.

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Now, it’s time to work with the chicken.  The first step is to coat the chicken in the flour.  Then place your floured chicken in the egg and coconut milk.  Then place your chicken in the breadcrumb/coconut mixture.  Once you have coated the chicken completely, place your chicken on a baking sheet covered in parchment paper.  Parchment paper is very important for this recipe.  You do not want your coconut to burn or you chicken to stick to the pan.  You could probably try aluminum foil, but I never have.  I wouldn’t be able to tell you how it turn out.  You’ll want parchment paper for your holiday baking.  Go ahead and buy some. 😉

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This is what your baking sheet should look like before you place it in the oven.  Bake the tenders at 400 degrees for 16 minutes on one side and then flip them over and bake for another 16 minutes.

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You want them to be browned and toasty when you flip them for the first time.

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Here is the finished product!  Yum!!!  My mouth is watering just looking at this picture!  I usually serve these tenders with baked brown rice and a veggie (green beans or broccoli would work well).  As I stated before, put some sweet chili pepper sauce in a bowl as a dipping sauce.  Delish!  I’ll put a link for the recipe below.  Happy Cooking!  Please let me know if you try these and let me know what you think.  I always love feedback!  Have a great weekend!

My recipe for Coconut Chicken:  Coconut Chicken

Recipe Adapted from:  http://www.budgetbytes.com/2010/01/coconut-chicken-w-sweet-chili-dipping-sauce/

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