Friday, May 15, 2009

Coconut-Peanut Chicken

The other day I was thinking about the foods that I didn't like as a child—pistachio ice cream, marzipan, coconut-covered cakes, Hershey bars with almonds—and I began to see a theme. I didn't like nuts when they came in a sweet package. (Now I love everything on that list...well, maybe not marzipan.)

I think it was just the taste disconnect between something that seemed fundamentally savory (nuts) and the sweet environment they were in. You know, like why jam made from tomatoes doesn't quite work.

Anyway, this week's recipe puts one of those ingredients—coconut—back into the savory environment it belongs in, if you ask me. I used it in a coating mixture for chicken tenders that were pounded into a flat strip, like for satay. I used supermarket coconut flakes, which means they were sweetened, but it wasn't a bad counterpoint to the chicken and the salted peanuts (also in the coating).

Coconut-Peanut Chicken
I was wondering what would happen if you took some of the flavors of the peanut sauce used for chicken satay and just applied them right to the chicken. Thus was this recipe born.

2 pounds chicken tenders
1-1/2 cups dry-roasted salted peanuts
1-1/2 cups coconut flakes
2 large egg whites
2 teaspoons teriyaki sauce
2 teaspoons sesame oil
Hot sauce, for serving
4 limes, cut into wedges

1. Soak 32 wooden skewers (8 or 10 inch) in water for at least 30 minutes.
2. With the flat side of a meat pounder or the bottom of a small heavy skillet, pound the chicken tenders 1/8 inch thick. Cut the tenders in half lengthwise.
3. In a food processor, pulse the peanuts until they form a fine meal (be careful not to turn them into peanut butter). Add the coconut flakes and pulse to combine.
4. Preheat the broiler. Lightly coat a broiler pan with cooking spray. (Note: You will have to cook the chicken in two batches, so reapply cooking spray if you think the pan needs it.)
5. Put the coconut-peanut mixture in a shallow container long enough to hold the skewered chicken. In another shallow bowl or pie plate, beat the egg whites, teriyaki sauce and sesame oil together. Dip the chicken in the egg white mixture, then thread onto the skewers. Dip the skewered chicken into the coconut-peanut mixture, pressing the mixture onto the chicken.
6. Place on the broiler pan and broil 6 inches from the heat for 3 minutes. Turn the chicken over and broil for 2 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through but not dried out.
7. Serve with hot sauce and lime wedges for squeezing.

Makes 8 servings

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