Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Crispy Coconut Chicken Fingers

I have an obsession with coconut. I looooove the sweet flavor of it. I've never actually tried it fresh before, but one of these days I'm going to break down at the store and just buy one. But I love coconut cream pie (or coconut cream pie bars), coconut cheesecake (okay, well any cheesecake, but coconut cheesecake is like out of this world!), coconut ice cream ,etc. But I also love it when it's in savory dishes, like chicken or salad or something. I found this little gem in the Our Best Bites cookbook and had to make it. It was super easy and even came with a very easy sauce to go with it, which was ah-maz-ing with the coconut. And who isn't looking for another way to make chicken these days? Trust me, you will thank me later for posting these!
My mouth is literally watering. These were so good!
Mix together your coconut, panko, garlic powder, salt, curry, onion powder and cayenne. You really do need to chop your coconut so it's about the size of your panko. This will help it stick to the chicken. 
Dip your chicken in the flour, shaking off excess.
Dip into the whisked eggs, letting the excess drip off. You don't want egg-y chicken!
Gently press the chicken into the coconut mixture, making sure it's coated well.
Place the tenders on a cookie sheet. I always bake mine on a rack with foil underneath (I also spray the rack with some Pam too), a little tip from my dad. This way it doesn't get soggy underneath and can crisp up all the way around. The original recipe has you place them on a sprayed, foil-lined cookie sheet. Either way is totally fine!
The house smelled so good!!! Don't worry if your coconut is a little darker than "golden", it's just the coconut pieces that didn't get chopped well and were sticking up. They aren't burned, just carmelized a little. I promise!
Serve with dip. Please! It's amazing!

Crispy Coconut Chicken Fingers
recipe from Our Best Bites

12 chicken tenders
1-2 eggs
1/2 C flour
1 C sweetened coconut flakes
1 C panko bread crumbs
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
3/4 tsp table salt
3/4 tsp curry powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)

Sweet Dipping Sauce

1 cup apricot-pineapple preserves (I found this really easily in my regular grocery store)
2 tsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp curry

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spray a foil-lined baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.

Give coconut a rough chop so it’s about the same size as the panko pieces.  Combine it with Panko and spices in a shallow dish. Mix well to distribute all of the spices. Place the flour in another shallow dish, and the egg in another. Give the egg a quick beating. Working with one chicken tender at a time, dredge in flour and then dip in egg, and then finally coat in the coconut Panko mixture. Press in with your fingers to make sure the entire thing is well coated.

Place chicken tenders on your foil-lined baking sheet. (OBB gave a teeny drizzle of olive oil on top to help them crisp nicely, but it’s optional. I didn't do this).

Bake in your 450 degree oven for about 20 minutes or until juices run clear. Try not to overcook them because chicken tenders go from perfect to overcooked really fast! If your tenders are on the small side, they could even be done in about 15 minutes so keep an eye on them. If they’re big they can take more like 25.

While the chicken tenders are baking, whisk together the sauce ingredients and chill until ready to eat.

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