Crispy Coconut Chicken Fingers

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Yesterday was absolutely insane. It started with a glance out the window before letting Lily out in the morning. When I opened the sliding glass door, in came a drift of snow. Literally. That’s just no way to start a Tuesday and unfortunately, it has taken me no time at all to learn that the “lake effect snow” I’ve heard about all my life is 1) very real and 2) a million times worse on the Michigan side of the lake. Chicago has no clue.

My drive to work was white-out conditions (as was my drive home) and my first meeting was, of course, the next building over. I forgot my scarf at home and got pelted with snow as my heels filled with snow. I’m probably lucky to even have toes after that. Note to self: BUY BOOTS.

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After my 9am meeting, I had a 10am meeting, and then an 11am meeting. While not planned, it ended up being perfectly planned that we served up bread and soup in the cafeteria for lunch. To no surprise, the weather kept people in and were they ever in the mood for some warm, crusty bread and piping hot soup.

In the middle of the lunch rush, in walks a coworker with that look of, I’m-going-to-ask-you-a-really-outrageous-favor-and-I-hope-you say- you’ll-do it look. I know those looks all too well.

“Nicole…you’re going to kill me. I have to take lunch to a doctor up north on Thursday and he’s a meat and potatoes kind of guy. Can you help?”

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I deferred her to my co-worker who handles most of the catering events as I headed to a 5 hour electronic medical records training. Catering a hot meat and vegetable for a handful of people is no easy task, especially on short notice, but I’m sure we’ll come up with something.

Similar to that doctor, Mr. Prevention enjoys meat more than I previously thought. As I’ve included more and more meat-free entrees, the change has recently been met with more resistance and complaints. This particular recipe I’ve been wanting to try for a really long time. I had planned to make these when Mr. Prevention was out of town because I know how deep his hatred runs for coconut.

But, I got ballsy and decided to make the chicken fingers…and never fill him in about the coconut. He devoured these, commented on how well he liked a “meat and vegetable meal” and these chicken fingers in particular. He enjoyed them so much so that when I let him in on the coconut secret, he shrugged his shoulders and said, “Whatever, they were still really good.” Coconut victory.

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Crispy Coconut Chicken Fingers slightly adapted from Our Best Bites, as seen on I Was Born to Cook

1 lb chicken tenders (~8 tenders)
1 egg, beaten
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sweetened coconut flakes
2/3 cup panko bread crumbs
1 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 F. Line a baking sheet with foil and mist with cooking spray; set aside.

In two separate, shallow bowls whisk the egg in one and measure out the flour into the other. In a third shallow bowl, combine coconut, panko, and spices in a small dish and mix well.

Dip tenders, one at a time, in flour, followed by egg, then coconut mixture. Press lightly to adhere coating and arrange on the baking sheet.

Bake for about 20-25 minutes, until cooked through and slightly golden. Serve hot.

Yield: 4 servings (~2 tenders each)

Nutrition Information (per serving): 274 calories; 6.5 g. fat; 101 mg. cholesterol; 276 mg. sodium; 22.5 g. carbohydrate; 3.0 g. fiber; 29.8 g. protein; 5.8 g. sugar

Result: Great flavor with the sweet coconut, crunchy panko, and spicy cayenne. The fact that my coconut-hating husband loved these was the cherry on top. These were simple to make and reheated well in the oven. I did increase the panko, decreased the amount of coconut (for calorie control), and used less garlic powder and salt. Turned out great!

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Workout, work, and a grocery store tour with our parent-child cooking class :)

Be well,

sig4

Comments

  1. Katie says

    Are you sure you aren’t secretly married to my husband? I’ve been trying meatless twice a week instead of once and am getting the same complaints! Why is meat so ingrained in male culture??

  2. Jessica says

    Any suggestions for making an easy gluten free version of this? Would quick oats substitute for the bead crumbs okay?

    • Nicole, RD says

      You can use a gluten-free flour, such as brown rice flour, and panko comes in a gluten-free variety…or just use any stale bread processed into crumbs or a gluten-free breadcrumb. Hope that helps!

  3. says

    I usually try to avoid coconut-crusted anything (because I like it too much and its almost always fried), so I will have to try this! It actually looks fried…

  4. says

    I was going to ask the same thing about the sauce – got it! I am going to share this with my sister – she LOVES chicken fingers, especially dipped into honey mustard.

    Keep warm!!

  5. says

    Well, I feel a lot better about my yesterday now that I’ve read about yours. I’m pretty sure it was just a crappy day all around.
    These chicken fingers sound so good. Chicken fingers are my favorite thing, I love them an unreasonable amount. These are going to have to happen in my house.

  6. STH says

    What I’m finding is that I don’t get complaints about meatless meals if they include some cheese. And it doesn’t have to be a lot–extra sharp cheddar sprinkled on top is enough. So we’re doing some of that. What I generally try to do instead of going meatless, though, is to use a little meat and extend it with something, like turkey meatballs with some added chopped mushrooms for moisture (in this recipe for instance: http://budgetbytes.blogspot.com/2012/01/teriyaki-meatball-bowls-789-recipe-132.html) or ground beef with some cooked lentils added. Or I make Sloppy Joes with less ground beef and extra onion, pepper, and mushrooms. I suspect my partner would like a more meat-heavy diet, but he knows I’m doing this to keep him healthy–and his total cholesterol was 113 at his last doctor’s visit!

  7. Lizzie says

    I made these last night, yum!! My coconut-hating fiance ate them without complaint. I LOVED them. The crunch and color are so satisfying. I toasted my panko crumbs first. I will definitely make these again :)

  8. Kathy says

    Yum! This was a perfect recipe to teach to my college-aged son, who has not shown much interest in cooking. We both decided that he should learn a few basic recipes to have in his arsenal for the next school year. We started with this one because he loves chicken fingers and coconut. Success! The recipe was easy enough for him and the results were so good. Thanks!

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