Coconut Orange Chicken

coconut orange chicken

My delightful creation boasts of the meat and cream of coconut, contrasted with fresh orange, and melded with the juices of sautéed chicken and onions-flavors which accent each other, as Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page suggest in Culinary Artistry.  1

Much can be said about the benefits of coconut, with its current widespread demand.  Coconut sugar-with its low glycemic index-is the best choice for baking (see Zucchini Bread, 2017/07/24), while coconut oil is ideal for health-learn more about this highly beneficial saturated fat in my entry Nutty Coconut Pie, 2017/11/13.  Here, however, we will explore the advantages of its milk, cream, and water.

Coconut is the largest and most important of all nuts, which is the stone of a drupe, the fruit of Coco nucifera, large tree-like palms, which are more closely related to grasses than other nut-trees.

These hardy fruits are borne and mature year-round; it takes eleven to twelve months for them to fully develop.  Around five to seven months, they develop coconut water (about 2% sugars) and a moist, delicate, gelatinous meat.  The mature coconut, however, has a less abundant, less sweet liquid, and meat that has become firm, fatty, and white.  2

Coconut milk-as opposed to coconut water-is made by pulverizing good, fresh coconut meat to form a thick paste, which consists of microscopic oil droplets and cell debris suspended in water; this water makes up about half of the paste’s volume.  Then more water is added, and it is strained to remove the solid particles.  Left to stand for an hour, a fat-rich cream layer separates from a thin-skim layer in the milk.  3

For a while, only the canned, skim coconut milk was available at Trader Joe’s.  When I inquired about their coconut cream, which I prefer for cooking, I was told the market was presently so glutted by the popularity of coconut products that the cream wasn’t being produced.  Lately, once again, cans of coconut cream are available there, much to my joy.

Recently friends came for dinner.  Cody was sharing his expertise with my computer, while I in turn was blessing with food; thus, the inspiration for this dish.  It was a win-win situation, for both of us were incapable of doing what the other was providing.

We are all critical members of the body.  With God’s help, we play out our individual parts, as we contribute to the whole.  Each of us is uniquely equipped; thus, the manifold splendor of the perfected body.  Likewise, this same divine genius can be seen in what mother-nature did, bestowing on us these many essential products from the coconut fruit.

References:

  1. Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page, Culinary Artistry (Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1996), p. 199.
  2. Harold McGee, On Food and Cooking (New York: Scribner, 1984, 2004), p. 508.
  3. Ibid., p. 509.
  4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coconut_milk

finished product

Coconut Orange Chicken  Yields: 3-5 servings.  Total prep time: 1 1/4 hr.

12 oz frozen broccoli  (Organic is best, available at Trader Joe’s; our local Grocery Outlet sometimes has it at a better price.)

1 lb chicken tenderloins, 8 lg pieces

6 1/2 tsp oil   (Coconut oil offers ideal flavor and quality.)

1 med yellow onion, cut in even 1/8” slices

Small head of cauliflower  (Organic, orange cauliflower is often available at our local Fred Meyer-Kroger-stores; color is beneficial to health.)

Red or orange bell pepper  (Organic is so important with bell peppers, as they readily absorb pesticides.)

1 lg orange, peeled and divided into small sections  (Organic is best.)

1/3 c unsweetened shredded coconut flakes  (Available in bulk at many stores, very reasonable at our local Winco.)

1-15 oz can of coconut cream (Trader’s usually carries this; coconut skim milk will work as well.)

1 tsp salt, or to taste  (Himalayan, pink, or Real Salt is critical for optimum health; Costco sells an inexpensive fine grind Himalayan salt.)

1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper, or to taste

Steamed rice or quinoa  (See Quinoa Dishes, 2018/01/29.)

  1. produce

    Take broccoli out of freezer, open package, and set aside.  Place chicken in bowl of water to thaw.

  2. Spray all vegetables with an inexpensive, safe, effective produce spray (combine 97% distilled white vinegar with 3% hydrogen peroxide).  Let sit for 3 minutes; then, rinse well.
  3. Chop onions in even 1/8” slices.  Heat 1/2 tsp of oil in a sauté pan, over medium heat; oil is ready, when a small piece of onion sizzles.  Reduce heat to med/low.  Add rest of onion and cook, stirring every several minutes until light color begins to form; then, stir more frequently until onions are dark brown.

    cutting cauliflower

    Place in a bowl and set aside.  While these are cooking, go to next step, but watch onions carefully.

  4. Heat 1 tbsp of oil in an extra large frying pan; salt and pepper poultry well; when small piece of chicken sizzles in oil, add rest of tenderloins.  Cut in bite-size pieces with a spatula as cooking; cook until light pink in center-do not overcook, as they will cook more later on.  Set aside on plate, SAVING JUICES IN PAN.
  5. Cut all cauliflower into small florettes, by first cutting sections off whole cauliflower.  Next remove excess stalk off these sections.  Finally, gently break these smaller sections into bite-size pieces, by pulling the florettes apart with a paring knife, see photo above.
  6. separating orange segments

    Chop pepper into 2”-strips.  Peel orange, break in half, cut halves in half, and divide into small sections (see photo).

  7. Over medium heat, heat left-over juices in large pan, to which 1 tbsp of oil is added.  When a small piece of cauliflower sizzles in pan, add the rest of it, as well as the pepper strips and broccoli.  Stir oils into vegetables; mix in dried coconut and coconut cream (be sure to gently stir the cream in the can first, to avoid a mess when pouring).  Sauté until desired tenderness; may cover with a lid to speed up process. Season with salt and pepper.
  8. Add chicken pieces and orange segments; adjust seasonings; cook until tenderloins are hot (see photo at top of recipe).
  9. Serve over rice or quinoa.  A powerfully good dish!

Tomato/Feta Chicken

Tomato/feta chicken

tomato/feta chicken

An explosion of creativity occurred in my sister’s upscale kitchen this month: my siblings and I collaborated over one of my recipes during a trip home for my mother’s 93rd birthday.  Our three strong cooking minds worked together to perfect a dish I created years ago.

Nearly a decade has passed since I helped a friend every Monday, for she was bogged down in her professional responsibilities; aromatic ailments filled pots and pans, as I prepared her family’s nourishment for each upcoming week.

This particular friend had been to cooking school in Italy; her excellent input and feed-back sharpened my skills, while I was helping her family.  At her home, I created this recipe for tomato/feta chicken, which my siblings Maureen and Paul helped perfect recently.

One thing I learned from my friend was to add the garlic at the close of the sautéing process; she said this keeps it from burning.  I was adding it as I was cooking the meat before this.  My friend’s ingenious tongue could taste the burnt garlic; thus, she suggested that I add it at the very end, which is how I had cooked with this herb since.

However, my siblings suggested that adding it early on allows for more flavor.  My brother explained the proper process: when you add garlic, while sautéing, cook only until you can smell it; then, immediately add the liquid for the sauce, to keep it from burning.

My sister employs an even more advanced method: she roasts lots of whole peeled cloves on a cookie sheet, in a preheated 300 degree oven, for at least an hour (or until golden brown). She stores this in the refrigerator, adding about three tablespoons per four-serving dish, while the dish is cooking-only cook briefly, however, if dish is dry.

After tasting our finished work, I am sold on cooking this herb longer, employing these safe ways.  The following recipe reflects this new directive; here the fresh garlic is cooked for a lengthy time in the wet tomatoes.

There was another point I learned from my siblings’ expertise.  Both urged me not to bother with washing pieces of cut meat; it is only necessary to clean the inside of the carcasses of fowl, where blood has collected.  This has made cooking easier for me.

This tomato/feta chicken recipe is exceptionally good; enjoy it!

Tomato/Feta Chicken  Yields: 4-6 servings.  Total prep time: 1 1/4 hr.

1 med/lg yellow onion, halved and cut in even 1/8″ slices

5 tsp oil  (Coconut or avocado oil is best, as olive oil is carcinogenic when heated to high temperatures.)

8 chicken tenderloins, thawed in water  (The frozen ones at Trader Joe’s are all natural and a good price.)

Salt and pepper to taste  (Himalayan, pink, or Real Salt is critical for optimum health; a fine grind Himalayan salt is available inexpensively at Costco.)

4 tomatoes, chopped  (Organic is best.)

3/4 tsp dried oregano  (Organic is available at Trader’s; it is of excellent quality and very inexpensive.)

1 tsp dried basil

3-5 lg cloves of garlic, chopped fine  (2 cubes of frozen garlic from Trader’s is a much easier prep.)

1-16 oz package frozen broccoli florettes  (An inexpensive, organic variety is available at Trader’s.)

3 oz feta cheese  (This is best, when purchased in an 8-oz block, rather than the pre-crumbled version, which has been treated.)

Shaved or grated Parmesan cheese

Steamed brown rice (I prefer basmati brown rice)

  1. Take frozen broccoli out of freezer; it cooks better when partially thawed.  (Better yet, leave it in the refrigerator over night.)
  2. If chicken tenderloins are frozen, you may thaw them in warm water.  Pat dry with paper towel.
  3. caramelized onions

    In a large heavy-bottom frying pan, heat 1 tsp oil over med/low heat. Add onion and caramelize, cook slowly until dark brown.  Note: do not crowd onions in pan, or they will sweat and it takes longer to caramelize them.  Stir every few minutes for about the first 30 minutes; then, stir every minute afterwards, as onions begin to stick to pan and browning process accelerates; see photo. (For more details on caramelizing, see Caramelized Onions and Carrots-2017/06/19.)  Meanwhile go to next step.

  4. Chop tomatoes and garlic; set each aside separately.
  5. Heat remaining 1 1/2 tbsp oil in another large skillet.  Salt and pepper tenderloins generously; place chicken in hot oil, sautéing over medium heat quickly.  Cut tenderloins with spatula, as cooking, to check for doneness (should be slightly pink in center as they will cook more later).   As pieces are done, place in a bowl, saving juices in pan.  May add onions to this bowl, when they are done.
  6. Add tomatoes to hot pan in which you cooked the chicken; simmer over med/low heat for 10 minutes. Add dried herbs and garlic; cook down to a chunky sauce, about 20 minutes more.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  7. When onions, chicken, and tomatoes are cooked, may set all aside and finish recipe just before serving, if desired.
  8. When you are ready to serve, add thawed broccoli to pan of tomatoes and simmer over medium heat; cook until vegetables are tender and hot.
  9. Distribute chicken and onions in tomato sauce/broccoli; heat mixture.  Stir in feta, crumbling it with your fingers; adjust seasonings.  Cook briefly, so feta doesn’t completely melt.
  10. Serve over rice; top with shaved Parmesan cheese.