I just watched that particular episode of the Food Network show and realized that I have my own entry into the category: coconut-crusted chicken.
Of course, there's no way I could declare with finality the best crunchy thing I ever ate (and I think it's safe to say that the FN folks are exaggerating at least a little bit), but this chicken is high on the list. The Panko bread crumbs combined with the crushed up toasted coconut packs a punch that your typical oven-baked chicken just doesn't carry. Plus, the sweet, nutty taste of the coconut adds a complexity to the chicken that I really enjoyed.
While Panko is always my choice for breaded cutlets and the like, feel free to try other options. I made some beer bread recently from a super-easy mix sent to me by Krusteaz, and while the chicken wasn't quite as crunchy as when it was made with Panko, the beer bread [made with Highland Black Mocha Stout, a local (and personal) favorite] contributed a truly unique flavor to the dish.
What's your favorite crunchy creation?
Crunchiest Coconut-Crumb-Crusted Chicken
- 3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, excess fat trimmed
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs (or beer bread crumbs, if you're feeling frisky)
- 1/2 cup toasted coconut, crumbled
- 2 large eggs
- 1/4 cup milk
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, nonstick spray, or a silicone baking mat; set aside.
In a shallow bowl, combine flour, salt, and pepper, to taste.
In another shallow bowl, whisk together egg and milk.
In a third shallow bowl, combine the bread crumbs and coconut.
Dredge chicken one breast at a time in the flour, dip into the eggs, then dredge in the Panko crumbs, pressing to coat.
Place onto prepared baking sheet and bake for 20-30 minutes (turning halfway through), or until the crust is golden and the chicken is completely cooked through.