Crispy Coconut, Creamy Dip.
These are not just your normal chicken nuggets. They are awesome! And if your like us here in Utah where the high has been a whopping 15 degrees on a good day for the past three weeks, then close your eyes while your eating these and you can almost feel the tropical warm wind blowing on your face, and smell of the beach in your nose!
Even though the flavors are a little more “grown up”, my kids love them a.k.a. my 19 month old son fought me for the leftovers at lunch today.
And don’t even get me started on the sauce. When my husband and I can find it in our budget go to Red Lobster (which is basically once a year usually on a birthday splurge), we always have to get the coconut shrimp, mainly because it comes with this “to die for dipping sauce” the shrimp is okay, but we basically pay 10 dollars just to slurp the little sauce bowl on the side.
Yesterday when I googled it, a copy cat recipe came up and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised at how close it came to the real deal. This stuff is legit!
Crispy Coconut Chicken Fingers with “Red Lobster” Coconut Dipping Sauce
Note: Panko Bread crumbs are not just your normal bread crumb, they are a little bigger. I have been able to find them in all the local grocery stores here in Provo though, so I think they are pretty easy to get!
Ingredients for Crispy Coconut Chicken:
12 chicken tenders ( more or less…) (You can also chop your own chicken breast which I almost prefer so I can make them more like nuggets so they are smaller for my kiddos!)
1-2 eggs (I ended up using 3, but maybe I had a little more chicken)
1/2 C flour
1 C sweetened coconut flakes
1 C panko bread crumbs
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
3/4 tsp table salt
3/4 tsp curry powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (I left this out, but apparently it doesn’t do much for the spice factor. I love spice but unfortunately my kids and husband can only take so much, so I opted for none in this!)
preheat oven to 450 degrees. Give coconut a rough chop so it’s about the same size as the Panko pieces. Combine it with Panko and spices in a shallow dish. Mix well to distribute all of the spices. Place the flour in another shallow dish, and the egg in another. Give the egg a quick beating. Working with one chicken tender at a time, dredge in flour and then dip in egg, and then finally coat in the coconut Panko mixture. Press in with your fingers to make sure the entire thing is well coated.
Place chicken tenders on a foil-lined baking sheet (for easy clean up!) that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. I give mine a teeny drizzle of olive oil on top to help them crisp nicely, but it’s optional.
Bake in your 450 degree oven for about 20 minutes or until juices run clear. Try not to overcook them because chicken tenders go from perfect to overcooked really fast! If your tenders are on the small side, they could even be done in about 15 minutes so keep an eye on them. If they’re big they can take more like 25. The coconut will be nice and golden and the panko crisp, but light in color still.
Pina Coloda Dipping Sauce
1 cup pina colada mix (Major Peters mix was used)
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoon crushed pineapple, drained
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon sweetened coconut flakes
3 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon powdered sugar
1 and 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
3 teaspoon cold water
Mix together pina colada mix, water, crushed pineapple, coconut, and powdered sugar in a sauce pan. Heat on medium-low temperature until sauce begins to simmer, stirring frequently. Let mixture simmer slowly 10-12 minutes. Mix cornstarch and cold water together; add to sauce and blend well. Let mixture simmer for 3-5 minutes longer while stirring during and after adding cornstarch. Remove from heat and bring to room temperature.