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Monday, March 31, 2014

Coconut Chicken with Spicy Pineapple Dipping Sauce

love appetizers! Whenever my family gets together we all bring different kinds of apps (and wine) and put them out on the counter while we catch up. Everyone migrates to the kitchen no matter how hard my mom tries to stop it! It's so fun to try new recipes and who better to test them out on than family?! Knowing we were getting together to watch some March Madness games I needed to come up with something exciting...wanting it to be pretty healthy and light while being dairy free. This weekend I was definitely feeling tropical (from our 35 degree sunny weather) and decided on coconut breaded chicken bites. I've been wanting to make something like this and thought I'd use a whole chicken breast but since I needed an appetizer I modified this idea to be bite-size. I will absolutely make this again as an entree and report back.
 I prepped this ahead of time and marinated the chicken overnight to ensure it was going to be flavorful and juicy. Let's start with the marinade.

I started with 1 can of unsweetened coconut milk. It was so creamy! 
To that I added 2 minced garlic cloves, the zest of 1 lime, 1 Tbl Sriracha, 2 Tbl Soy sauce (I like low sodium), salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and minced fresh ginger (a 1 inch piece is plenty). Give it a good stir and taste it- if you want it spicier, give it an extra drizzle of Sriracha. Feel free to add more or less of anything depending on your taste. I then poured this marinade in a large ziplock bag while I prepped my chicken. 
I used 3 chicken breasts and cut them into thin strips then halved those strips across for bites. You could cut in half lengthwise for little strips. It looks small now, but remember, after you bread them they become much larger! Add the chicken to the marinade and give it a good massage to make sure all of the chicken is coated in that wonderful marinade. Place in fridge and forget about it until tomorrow.
You'll want to get yourself situated for breading, in order, with your sheet pan (lined with parchment or foil) at the end of  your assembly line. It makes the process quicker and more efficient. On the far right I have my marinated chicken, which I didn't show but just pretend it's there! Then I have my flour seasoned with cayenne, salt, and pepper. You can season it with anything you like but make sure you at least have some s&p. We then move over to our eggs. I have 2 whole eggs but you could use egg whites to be "healthier". The last bowl is equal parts Panko breadcrumbs and shredded sweetened coconut. Now mix the flour mixture, beat the eggs, and stir the panko and coconut mixture. Ready to get messy?!
Plop a few pieces of chicken (shaking off excess marinade) into the seasoned flour. Using tongs or your hands toss chicken into the flour until completely coated.
Shake off excess flour and drop into the egg mixture. Flip around to coat. Shake off excess egg. 
Drop into Panko and coconut mixture and flip several times, really pressing that breading into the chicken! Take them out and lay gently on a lined baking sheet. 
Continue the breading process until you are out of chicken. It's possible you may need to refill your breading supplies halfway through...this is okay! You can bake these off right away or wrap tightly with plastic wrap and store in the fridge until your ready to cook them. I baked these at 375 degrees for about 20-25 min flipping over halfway through. When they come out of the oven I hit them with a little kosher salt. Eat as is OR with my spicy pineapple sauce! Easy as pie.
I make this sauce in my Magic Bullet as I don't have a blender or food processor, but use whatever you have! I used 1 C fresh cut pineapple, half of a jalapeño, the juice of 1 lime, a tiny sprinkle of salt, 1 Tbl of sugar, some chopped cilantro, and 1/2 C of unsweetened coconut milk. Pulse it several times until well combined. It's a little thick but not exactly creamy. You could add more coconut milk if you want it super rich!
I just love pineapple. Eating it takes me to a place where I'm laying beachside in warm weather drinking a fresh piña colada...what a lovely thought! Reality hits back in at some point but it's still nice to think about! 
These chicken bites are seriously amazing! Crispy, sweet, salty, spicy, warm, and addictive. I hope you like!!

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