11 July 2011

Eats: coconut chicken

I’mma warn you right now, right here, up front. There are SEVERAL photos of raw chicken in this post, in all its pink uncooked glory. You may not like looking at them. I did not like dealing with the raw chicken in real life, either. So I feel ya.

BUT! That’s what this post is about, actually! See, breading chicken has long been one of my absolute least favorite things to do in the kitchen. Breading requires touching animal innards and I just don’t like doing that. I remember an elementary school activity which involved bringing the bones from a chicken that had, a day or so prior, been a part of our KFC dinner. My mom packaged them up in a plastic ziploc bag but I was TERRIFIED of even touching the bag to take it to school. Especially the ribcage. Ugh! I am pretty sure I cried about it. In retrospect I can’t blame myself. Who asks a child to bring dead bird parts to school? I don’t care if it was a freaky gifted class, that’s just bizarre.

Anyway, I know might get some flack from people who think that if I don’t want to face the fact that it was once a living animal, I shouldn’t eat meat. But you misunderstand. I am totally heartless enough to eat a chicken nugget at a hen farm or a hamburger in a cow pasture. It only has to do with touching raw innards. Additional example: I didn’t become a surgeon because slicing people open gives me the heebie jeebies. And heaven forbid you suddenly lose a limb and only have me around to set a tourniquet. Raw meat is just as grody. I have to wash my hands every twenty seconds any time I work with it.

But, if you can somehow bring your appetite back from that disturbing detour, you might remember that breaded chicken? Is delicious! You see the conundrum.

For years I have completely avoided breading chicken, but this recipe for coconut chicken recently won me over. The coconut breading is basically the point, so there’s no avoiding it. And once I tried making this recipe, I found that it's delicious and nearly worth the trouble to bread it. So, to save my sanity, I found a workaround. It’s not exactly the right way to bread chicken, but it gets the job done!

All right. Ready? Welcome to my raw meat photo gallery!

First of all, you need to lightly beat an egg on a plate (or if your plates don’t have much depth as ours, beat it in a bowl and pour it on a plate). And you need to mix up the flour and coconut and whatnot for the breading, as the recipe above states. Believe it or not, I didn’t mess much with the ingredients! It’s delicious as-is, or at least as-I-eyeballed-the-measurements-because-I-don't-measure. I just changed up the breading style.

Then, transfer your chicken slices onto the plate. WITH A FORK SO YOU DON’T HAVE TO TOUCH IT, DUH. I was a big girl and cut up the chicken myself this time (shudder), but sometimes I ask Mr. P to do it.

Flip the chicken pieces over a few times - WITH THE FORK - so they are good and eggy. I guess you could also do this in a bowl, but I think they are easier to manage when spread out on a plate.

Next, grease the baking dish:

And pour half the breading mix in:

You see how we’re going to do this! Transfer your eggy chicken pieces onto the breading mix and squish them around a bit, so the mixture sticks. No really, it works! You can even see the breading sticking on the sides from all my squishing:

Then dump the rest of the breading mix on top, and squish around with the fork some more:

Breaded chicken! Done! And all at a fork’s length! I find it’s so much easier and less time to do it this way than dipping EACH PIECE in egg, then EACH PIECE in breading, leaving all this leftover eggy raw chicken breading mix that you just throw away thinking “what a waste.”

Anyway. Back to the recipe! It next calls for drizzling melted butter over the chicken. Don’t mind if I do!

Confession slash quick tip: I made this in one of my Sunday night marathon meal preps (more on that later this week) and quit after the butter-drizzling step for Mr. P to bake on the following weeknight. See, I like to eat dinner approximately five minutes after arriving home from work, so when I can, I prepare dishes most of the way in advance for Mr. P to finish cooking before I arrive home. This dish adapts to that perfectly, if that’s your sort of thing, too. So if you noticed the butter looks congealed, that’s why.

Finally, after baking:

That’s quite some payoff after all those raw chicken photos, eh? And it tastes even better than it looks! Although, I have to admit that as delicious as the coconut chicken is, the sauce is what really makes this dish. It’s just apricot preserves with some dijon mustard stirred in and takes like thirty seconds to make. I know how that sounds, but it is so tasty! You will just have to trust me and try it. I also served this with these garlic noodles, which is one of my favorite sides and is ready in about the time it takes to boil the pasta plus one minute to stir it all together.

So if you can have someone else cut up the chicken – or pay a million dollars per pound for the pre-sliced “chicken tenders” in the butcher section – you too can bread chicken without touching it! You can still obsessively wash your hands while cooking, though. I still do that even with the chicken at fork’s length. It’s just good hygiene, people.


Shanna said...

This was my laugh for the day! I just HAD to share this post with Rachel because she, too, hates to touch raw meat. Bless her hubby's heart, he has to do most [if not all] of the meat cooking at their house.

Sarah said...

I'm with Rachel! And interestingly my husband also doesn't seem to mind touching raw meat! Yet he gets woozy over blood. Who knows. Lately we've been firing up the grill every night so I haven't had to deal with the meat, either.

Tina said...

To get you to carry that bag of chicken bones into Martin Primary yourself, I had to put the ziploc bag into a brown paper sack and tell you to pretend you didn't know WHAT was in the sack - and to not look and see, but give it straight away to Mrs Lisa! Also, got an inkling it was kinda doubtful you might ever be an MD on that very day... ha!
You know you probably got that aversion to raw meat from from your momma - if it wasn't for meat dishes in restaurants and Ron readily doing the raw meat handling here, I'd surely be full-fledged vegetarian...

Shanna said...

I'm back...have now decided to make this dish for Sunday lunch coming up. I appreciate the tutorial, too! ;)

Sarah said...

Hope you enjoy it, Shanna! It's DELICIOUS. I also think it would be good with shrimp but I haven't tried that yet. Don't forget the sauce!