coconut chicken nuggets … everybody wants some

I know there are a lot of folks out there who love The Nugget.  Who depend on it.

But we’ve never been big nugget eaters in our house.

Maybe it’s because I ate a primarily vegetarian diet for so many years.

Maybe it’s because I’ve seen one too many documentaries on the manufacture of fast food versions.

Or maybe it just wasn’t on my radar … or I didn’t know how easy it was to make …

Until …

IMG_5829 Meet the Coconut Chicken Nugget.

I’m not going to deny it … these were totally inspired by Abby’s fried chicken.

But the first time I tried to make hers, I didn’t have Italian-seasoned Panko.  Actually, I was at my mom’s, and she didn’t have oregano or garlic or Italian seasoning in her cupboard.  But I did have a cup of shredded coconut.  I had sea salt.  And I had coconut oil.

They are sweeter than Abby’s.  And nuttier.  (I was thinking that using finely chopped almonds instead of bread-crumbs would be a great gluten-free option, but I haven’t tried it yet because everyone loves these so much.)

And there wasn’t one bite left after dinner.

Next thing I knew, they became a staple of our diet.

We eat them for dinner at home.  We take them for picnics on the go.

They make easy protein-packed road-trip snacks.

For Four Servings:

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 chicken breasts, 3 chicken thighs (cut into 1 1/2 inch bites)
  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat Panko-style bread crumbs
  • 3/4 cup shredded coconut (we get our from the bulk aisle at the Coop, but it’s available in bags, too)
  • 1  1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 3/4 cup of coconut oil (plus more, if you need it)

DIRECTIONS:

coconut nuggets PNG

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Cut the chicken into 1 1/2 – 2 inch “bites.”

Combine the bread crumbs, coconut and salt in a medium bowl.

Beat the eggs in another medium bowl.

Add half of the chicken to the egg.  Let soak for a few minutes.

Meanwhile, begin to heat a large saucepan.  If you’re using stainless steel, let the pan get good and hot before adding the coconut oil.  Hot pan.  Cold oil.  Heating the pan before adding the oil goes a long way toward making the pan “non-stick,” and a LOT easier to clean.

While the coconut oil melts, move the chicken from the egg into the coconut-bread-crumb bowl and toss until well coated.   And put the second half of your chicken to soak in the remaining egg.  By then, your oil should be good and hot.  (You can check this by dropping a few drops of water into the pan … if it sizzles, it’s hot enough.)

Transfer the coconut coated chicken (piece by piece) into the sizzling coconut oil.  While they cook on one side (for about 3 minutes), put the chicken that’s been soaking in the egg, into the coconut-crust.  Also, taking a page from Abby’s book, line a baking dish with brown paper (a great way to re-use brown-paper grocery bags).

Turn the chicken, cooking for another 3-4 minutes.  Then transfer fried chicken to the baking dish.

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Repeat with the second batch of chicken.  And then add that to the baking dish.  (If you feel like you need to add a little more coconut oil to the pan, the time to do that is between batches, so it has time to heat up again.)

Bake for about 20 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.  (These take less time than Abby’s because they are smaller.)

And if we were having a Superbowl Party tomorrow, I’d probably make two batches … and serve them with a few different dipping sauces (like a yogurt sauce with maple, a spicy honey mustard and maybe a buffalo hot sauce, which would be a great contrast to the sweet crunchy coconut coating).  In fact, I might just make them and turn our super bowl watching into a party!

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So whatever your nugget needs … I hope you’ll give these a go.

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