MealsApril-May 2010

Gluten-Free Coconut Chicken Tenders

SERVES 6

Most recipes for pan-fried or oven-fried chicken call for dipping chicken pieces in beaten egg and then in flour before frying. In this egg-free rendition, coconut flour and cornstarch batter stand in for the eggs and flaked coconut stands in for the flour. Serve these crusty tenders with a green salad and pan-fried plantains, baked or roasted sweet potatoes, a creamy vegetable soup, or a fresh fruit salad.

1¼–1½ pounds chicken tenders*, about 1-inch thick
1½ cups shredded, unsweetened, flaked coconut
⅓ cup sifted coconut flour
⅓ cup cornstarch
1½ teasoons salt
¾ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme or dried, rubbed sage or poultry
    seasoning, crumbled
1 teaspoon garlic powder (not garlic salt)
¼ cup + 2 tablespoons cool water
¼ cup + 2 tablespoons unsweetened lite
    coconut milk
6 tablespoons extra virgin coconut oil, ghee,
    palm shortening or olive oil or a combination of
    two of these

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Arrange chicken pieces on a plate.

2. Spread coconut in a pie plate or cake pan and set aside.

3. Measure flour and cornstarch by spooning it into a measuring cup and leveling the top with a knife. Place flour, cornstarch, salt, pepper, thyme or sage, and garlic powder in a bowl and whisk to combine. Mix in water and coconut milk with a fork to make a smooth pancake-like batter.

4. One at a time, dip each chicken tender in the batter and arrange on a tray. Use all the batter.

5. One at a time, turn chicken tenders in coconut to coat, pressing coconut on with your fingers. Place pieces on a plate. Repeat with remaining chicken.

6. Heat 2 tablespoons fat or oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat. When hot, add ⅓ of the chicken. Do not crowd the pan. Cook until lightly golden on each side, about 1 to 2 minutes maximum, and transfer to a rimmed baking sheet. Remove dark bits of browned batter from the pan before adding another 2 tablespoons oil. When hot, add and cook ½ of the remaining chicken. Repeat with remaining chicken and fat or oil. (Don't let the pan get too hot. The chicken should turn golden on both sides, not black.)

7. Transfer the tray of lightly cooked chicken to preheated oven and bake about 10 to 15 minutes, until chicken is the same color inside and out and registers an internal temperature of 160 degrees.

8. Serve warm. Cover and refrigerate leftovers and use within 3 days. Reheat briefly in a toaster oven at 300 degrees.

Each serving contains 360 calories, 26g total fat, 22g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 54mg cholesterol, 651mg sodium, 11g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 23g protein.

*TIP No chicken tenders? Make your own by cutting 1½ pounds boneless chicken breast halves into long strips, about 1-inch thick.

Chef Rachel Albert-Matesz is author of The Ice Dream Cookbook.

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