Not Martha

inexpert recipe: Double Coconut Chicken Breasts

[ coconut crusted chicken in a coconut sauce ]

It’s been so gloomy around here that last weekend Scott and I headed out to get tropical drinks at a Caribbean restaurant (Island Soul) in our neighborhood. Scott got a very respectable caipirinha and I got something that was neon blue and came with fruit on a sword. It inspired me to look up coconut recipes in How to Cook Everything and happily there was a recipe for Double Coconut Chicken Breasts. In his recipe Mark Bittman warns “ground coconut makes a flavorful and crunchy crust, but it burns easily, so be careful” so I changed the recipe to how we usually cook chicken breasts which uses a lower temperature than normal. It’s a technique I learned from How to Cook Moist and Tender Chicken Breasts over at The Kitchn. This is a nice, lazy and nearly foolproof method.

Pretty Easy Double Coconut Chicken Breasts

  • 1 cup (or just go ahead and use the whole can) canned coconut milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground tumeric, or a few strands of saffron if you’re the sort to have a well stocked spice cabinet
  • about 1 1/2 cups dried unsweetened coconut
  • 2 (or 4) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot
  • minced parsley for garnish
  • vegetable oil, salt and pepper
  1. If you’re serving this with rice hopefully you’ve already started cooking it, the chicken takes 20 minutes. If you have not started rice see the notes below.
  2. Warm the coconut milk and stir in the tumeric or saffron. Turn off the heat and let it cool. After a while the sauce turns a pretty yellow color, like magic. Or much needed sunlight.
  3. Whirl the coconut around in a food processor to break it down into the size of crumbs. (We used Bob’s Red Mill shredded coconut and I suspect it was small enough already. We’ll skip this step next time.) Put the coconut on a plate, ready for dredging.
  4. Heat oil or a combination of oil and butter in a skillet over medium heat.
  5. Dredge the chicken breasts in the coconut and place in the skillet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Just let them get golden brown on both sides and then quickly cover the pan with a heavy lid and turn the heat to low. Let cook on low for 10 minutes.
  6. While you’re waiting right now is a good time to prepare your salad.
  7. After 10 minutes turn off the heat under the chicken or move the pan while keeping the lid on. Let the chicken sit for another 10 minutes. (If you’re cooking very thick chicken breasts you might consider checking for doneness, if they are still pink inside keep the pan over low heat for the next 10 minutes instead.)
  8. Heat some oil in a small pan and cook the minced shallot over medium heat, 3 or 4 minutes stirring occasionally until it softens. Add the coconut milk, turn the heat up and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and stir frequently until the sauce has thickened up a bit. Add a pinch of salt.
  9. At this point your chicken breasts, sauce and rice will hopefully be ready all at the same time. Flood the plate with the pretty sauce, garnish with parsley. And you’re done. Neon blue drink optional.

Notes: If you’ve forgotten to start the rice beforehand (every time!) I’ve taken a tip from an old Splendid Table program (the segment of which I cannot find) that mentions boiling it like pasta. Mine doesn’t not come out fluffy, rather it comes out looking wet and wrecked, but at least it’s cooked quickly.

Disclosure: The link to How To Cook Everything above is an affiliate link with Amazon, should you happen to buy the book after clicking on that link a small percentage comes to me. It’s not much but it helps me cover my hosting costs.

· comments [21] · 02-7-2011 · categories:food · recipes ·

21 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Nancy // Feb 7, 2011 at 6:37 am

    OMG–we are SOO having this for dinner tonight. Maybe lunch instead–I don’t think I can wait until dinner.

  • 2 anna // Feb 7, 2011 at 7:35 am

    You can steam rice pretty quickly, I don’t think boiling it like pasta really reduces the cooking time.

  • 3 Bettina // Feb 7, 2011 at 8:34 am

    I love “How to Cook Everything.” I think that was the first cookbook that I ever bought myself.

  • 4 Seanna Lea // Feb 7, 2011 at 9:17 am

    I don’t eat chicken (vegetarian), but the sauce (much like the marinade I made this weekend for shrimp for my husband) looks like it would work well on other dishes as well!

  • 5 Stacey // Feb 7, 2011 at 9:21 am

    YUM!!! Reminds me of Thailand!

  • 6 Katelyn // Feb 7, 2011 at 10:04 am

    Thanks for the link to the Kitchn article – I’m always, always trying to get the hang of pan-cooked chicken breasts, and I work with recipes for a living. You think I would have gotten it by now!

    Oooh, @Seanna Lea, I bet this would be perfect with tofu.

  • 7 Faith // Feb 7, 2011 at 11:10 am

    Wow, talk about same wavelength. I am just about to update that post at The Kitchn with a newer and better-photographed tutorial on this method of pan-cooking chicken breasts. It’ll be up tomorrow!

  • 8 suzanne // Feb 7, 2011 at 4:22 pm

    I can’t wait to try this! I have been in a major coconut phase lately – I’ve been using SO coconut milk rather than soy milk in my coffee (SO good, and not too coconutty-sweet or overpowering, just a hint o’ the coconut). And then I found some Puerto Rican coconut creme candies that are, again, not too sweet but oh so full of coconut-goodness.

  • 9 Kristen S. // Feb 7, 2011 at 7:50 pm

    I keep cous cous on hand for those times when rice would take too long – it has saved me more than once.

  • 10 megan // Feb 7, 2011 at 7:53 pm

    Anna – Thanks for the tip on steaming rice. Our steamer setup isn’t good for rice, it’s one of those silicone deals, but I considered it. Glad to know it works.

    Katelyn – Note Faith’s comment that The Kitchn is re-doing the article on chicken breasts, yay.

    Suzanne – In the darkest part of winter I often find myself craving coconut, and other tropical flavors. I could use a visit to a tropical location right about now.

  • 11 megan // Feb 7, 2011 at 7:59 pm

    Kristen – Oh, good idea!

  • 12 suzanne // Feb 7, 2011 at 8:52 pm

    I know what you mean!! In fact, this time last year I actually was in Costa Rica, gorging on coconuts (pipas) and pineapple… getting sunburned and other novice-surfing-injuries, but enjoying every minute of it. Currently I’m home in “silly-con valley” enjoying the unseasonable 76 degree weather today, and eating a big bowl of just-cut pineapple.

  • 13 Sarah // Feb 7, 2011 at 9:40 pm

    Have you tried frozen rice? I buy frozen brown rice at Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, or Super Target and it cooks in 3ish minutes and is perfect. They sell white/jasmine rice, too.

  • 14 megan // Feb 7, 2011 at 10:11 pm

    Sarah – I know it exists but I have not tried it because (gasp) I don’t own a microwave. Our kitchen is just too small. Glad to know it’s worth recommending, though, thank you!

  • 15 julie.k. // Feb 8, 2011 at 10:29 am

    ha, we keep our microwave in the basement (hence I rarely use it) since I don’t like what a space hog it is.
    THANKS for this great recipe, can’t wait to try this week!

  • 16 Kiki // Feb 10, 2011 at 8:57 am

    This looks absolutely delicious!

  • 17 Jinni // Feb 16, 2011 at 7:29 pm

    I made this last night…didn’t turn out nearly as pretty as yours but still tasty and I learned some things that will make next time better. Thanks for posting this, I’ve been craving coconut chicken forever but never have the initiative to try to make it!

  • 18 Kelly // Feb 22, 2011 at 7:32 pm

    Thanks so much for sharing this recipe! The chicken came out so moist and delicious and the sauce was excellent as well. Can’t wait to make this again.

  • 19 Heather // Mar 27, 2011 at 3:18 pm

    I’ve had this recipe bookmarked for a few weeks now and have made it at least 4 or 5 times. It’s just SO wonderful! The coconut adds just the right amount of sweet flavor to the chicken. Once, I had a good amount of sauce left over and I served it under some fresh panko-breaded walleye…was super tasty. Great versatile recipe!

    Oh! And if you want fail-proof rice, though it does take time (but not stovetop space!), use Alton Brown’s Baked Brown Rice recipe. Comes out perfectly every single time!

  • 20 Mick // Aug 11, 2012 at 7:34 pm

    I have found that often when pan frying chicken breasts I am disappointed that the beautiful fresh chicken breasts that I started with are not as tender as I would like or in some cases even a little dry. That was until I started brining the chicken for a few hours before cooking. Wow what a difference, trying googling the brining process and give it a go, it will surprise you.

  • 21 Donachy // Nov 2, 2013 at 6:57 pm

    Made this tonight. Came out moist and perfect! Thanks for posting this recipe.
    Greetings from north of the Arctic Circle!

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