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I WISH entertaining was something that came super naturally to me! I seriously admire people who have a knack for creating gatherings, inviting people over for dinner at a moment’s notice, or throwing parties–what better way is there to foster relationships and make people feel loved and included than to invite them into your home? For the first few years that Dave and I were married, having people over was something I always ended up enjoying a lot in the end, but the preparations were always stressful and I needed like a week of advance notice. I felt like my house had to be perfectly clean and the food super impressive. Plus, our little duplex that was built in the 1940’s works great for our starving student budget, but I always felt insecure about inviting people over because the lack of a dining area is not super conducive to entertaining! Noticing a theme? Lots of excuses 😉
The last few recipes that I’ve shared both on my blog and Instagram have been for sweets, so I figured it was time for a savory recipe! Soups are one of my favorite dishes to make because they are so forgiving, make awesome leftovers, and you can add this cornbread and you’ve basically won at life.
I would like to begin by saying that I felt like a grade-A fool sticking my plate of food on the arm of our couch by the open blinds to get a somewhat decent picture. Luckily Dave was working when I made this so Ella was the only one home and is blessedly too young to mock her mother.
I have to admit that this coconut chicken is the first time I have successfully fried something. Not like frying bacon or an egg, but cooking something in oil. Usually it makes a huge mess, the meat isn’t cooked all the way through before the outside is burned, and the whole house reeks by the end. So I kind of hate fried foods. Not to mention they are horrible for you.
But this recipe piqued my interest because not only did the flavors sound awesome, you only flash-fry the exterior for a nice crunch and then finish off the cooking process in the oven. Much less greasy and also more thoroughly cooked–yes please!
I am late to the coconut oil party and this is the first time I have tried it, but I am definitely a fan now! It is more expensive than vegetable oil, but we really don’t use it very often so I felt ok about the $5 I spent on this little jar since it will go a long way.
Coconut oil didn’t have that stinky smell that vegetable oil leaves in the air, and when I went to wipe down our stove there was way less greasy residue than usual!
Once the chicken had been flash-fried and then put in the oven, I whipped up the honey-orange dipping sauce. I should have snapped a picture of it but it was super easy and added a delicious tangy zip to the chicken.
The one critique I would add to this recipe is, while it wasn’t as messy and time-consuming as deep-frying chicken would be, I wouldn’t classify it as “simple,” “mid-week meal,” as the original source said, but I probably have much stricter standards for how simple I want a mid-week dinner to be. I mean, look at my sad side dishes–plain white rice and one little raw veggie! So I would probably use this more as a Sunday or special occasion dinner. Dunking the chicken in the various coatings, the added step and dishes dirtied from frying, and then making a sauce made it a little more time-consuming than just your average crock-pot or one-pan meal. But still, it was SO yummy, full of coco-nutty flavor, with a crispy coating, and we will totally make it again and again!
- 1 and 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts or tenders
- 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
- 3/4 cup Panko (can be found either in the Asian section or by the bread crumbs in a grocery store)
- 1/2 cup whole wheat flour (or all-purpose)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 large eggs
- 1/4 cup coconut oil
SPICY HONEY ORANGE SAUCE
- 1/2 cup orange preserves/marmalade
- 1/4 cup honey
- 3 Tablespoons dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- salt, to taste
- Pound down the chicken and cut into strips lengthwise, if using full chicken breasts.
- Preheat oven to 400°F (204°C). Line a baking sheet with tin foil (I ended up needing two baking sheets)
- Pulse the coconut in a blender or food processor to break it into smaller pieces. Or, you can chop it up. Mix with Panko in a bowl. Place flour, salt, and pepper in another bowl, and eggs in a third bowl.
- Melt down the coconut oil in a frying pan over medium heat.
- Coat the chicken in the three coatings: flour first, then eggs, and finally Panko and Coconut.
- Fry a few strips at a time in the oil, about two minutes on each side, just until the crust is golden. Shake off excess oil and place strips on cookie sheet. Continue process until all chicken strips are fried, replenishing and cleaning out the oil as needed (I had to switch out the oil twice when I made this recipe).
- Bake for 10 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. I almost always have to add some extra time on the end because I am paranoid about cooking chicken thoroughly, and my oven might not be very hot.
- For the sauce, mix all ingredient together and either drizzle over chicken or serve in small bowls for individual dipping.