Coconut-Crusted Chicken Tenders (picky kid-tested and approved!)
Our Eighty kids love breaded chicken! We're constantly mixing it up and looking for new flavor profiles, as well as ways to make the meal more nutrient-dense.
This oven-baked recipe uses coconut flour, coconut flakes, and unrefined coconut oil, along with a number of spices. It's a great recipe for a child with a gluten allergy, anyone following a Paleo or AIP lifestyle, and even works well as an appetizer for entertaining company. It's gluten free, corn free, soy free, refined sugar free, and can be egg free with a few adjustments. Plus, it's just as easy to prep and bake as traditional breaded chicken cutlet, and the seasoning can be adjusted up or down, depending on the palate. Our littlest fella loves to help by "dance shaking" the flour mixture (see below for an image of his artistry).
Chef's Note: The key to successful cooking with any "alternate" flour is knowing how it differs from what we know to be typical of standard flours. Coconut flour absorbs more water, so it's harder to make crispy. We brush our tenders with liquid/melted unrefined coconut oil, and bake them on a wire cooling rack to allow more air circulation and less sogginess. If you're worried about the excess coconut oil, consider the fact that most chicken tenders are either deep fried in highly refined oil, or at the very least, pan fried in oil in your own kitchen.
COCONUT-CRUSTED CHICKEN TENDERS
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips (or 1 package of pre-cut chicken tenders, approx. 1.25 lbs)
1/2 cup coconut flour (not so hard to find in stores... we use Trader Joe's brand)
1.5 tsp sea salt
1.5 tsp onion powder
1 tsp paprika (or for an adult, you could substitute smoked paprika - not AIP friendly)
1/2 tsp ground mustard powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1/4 cup liquid/melted coconut oil (unrefined)
Optional: 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
Preheat your oven to 400 F. Place a wire cooling rack over a rimmed baking sheet. Lightly brush the wire rack with a small amount of coconut oil to prevent the chicken from sticking.
In a large Ziploc bag or plastic container with lid, add coconut flour, 1 tsp sea salt, and all spices. Add the chicken strips, close the bag/container, and toss (we "shake") to coat.
In a medium shallow bowl or dish, add eggs and whisk until whites and yolks are combined.
In another shallow bowl or dish, add the shredded coconut, the remaining 1/2 tsp sea salt - and parmesan, if desired. (This is also a place where you could add some additional spices if you're feeding people with a more sophisticated palate... another sprinkle of paprika, garlic powder, or just black pepper.)
Take the flour-coated chicken strips and transfer the chicken piece by piece to the egg bowl and move around with a fork to combine. Let the excess egg run off the chicken strip and then transfer it to the coconut bowl.
Roll the chicken in the coconut mixture to ensure coating is on all sides.
Place each strip on the rack and repeat with the remaining chicken strips.
Before putting in the oven, evenly brush all strips with coconut oil to ensure crisping.
Bake for 12-14 minutes, flipping the strips with tongs halfway.
Eat with your favorite condiment for dipping, and enjoy!
SHAKE IT UP!