Baked Coconut Chicken Tenders
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This is a quick and easy recipe for chicken that is a just little out of the ordinary. The list of ingredients is short, and contains all things that are easy to find if you don’t already have them in your pantry. The prep time is almost nothing, and the baking time is just about right to have a side dish or two ready and have the table set. And since these can be eaten as a finger food, they should be well received by kids and adults alike.
- 2 to 3 lbs of boneless skinless chicken, cut into “tenders” about 3 to 4 inches long and 1/2 to 3/4 inches thick (trim any extra fat before cutting up)
- juice of 1 orange
- 1/3 ~ 1/2 cup raw local honey
- 2 ~ 2-1/2 cups shredded unsweetened coconut
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. If you’ve got closer to three pounds of chicken, and you have a convection oven, I’d go for a setting of “multi-pan” on convection because this may end up taking two pans. Get the chicken cut up into “tenders” and on a plate. Whisk together the orange juice and honey into a syrup-like consistency, making sure the honey is fully dissolved, then place it in a shallow bowl next to the chicken. Place about 1 cup of the shredded coconut in another shallow bowl along side the orange-honey mix (have the rest of the coconut easy to reach as well).
Dip each piece of chicken in the orange-honey mixture, then roll in the coconut to coat. Place on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Continue this process, leaving a little space between each piece until you’ve either filled the baking sheet or used up all the chicken. As your bowl of coconut gets low, add a bit more to it. And, of course, if you fill one sheet, start filling up another until all of the chicken is used up.
Bake in the oven until the coconut is golden brown and the juices of the chicken run clear. This took about 30 minutes for me with two pans in the oven on convection – but for a single pan in a regular oven you ought to start checking around 20 minutes. I also confirm they are done by poking a few with my thermapen and making sure they reach an internal temperature of about 165 degrees.
Pull them out of the oven and let cool for just a minute or two before serving. We had these with a simple garden salad with balsamic vinegar (yeah, I know…we need to do some more salads and dressings on this site). You can try dipping these in a little red chile paste if you like some heat, or a little dijon mustard would be good as well. Even by themselves, with a little sweet orange glaze under the toasted coconut, they are tasty!