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Last week, I was walking to work and I noticed that some of the trees were getting little leaf buds on them! I was so excited… and then the next day, it snowed. And snowed. And snowed. Three feet of snow later, I decided a meal with warm, tropical flavors might be just the thing I needed to cheer myself up.

A roasted carrot and ginger soup from an old issue of Food + Wine caught my eye recently, but Shawn wasn’t buying the whole carrot soup idea. To be honest, I’m still a little tired of soup myself anyway. Since we both like mashed carrots, I decided to reinvent the soup as a roasted carrot and ginger puree. Coconut seemed like it would go well with those flavors and I was in the mood for something a little different, so I decided to make coconut chicken cutlets.

Although I could have used to roast the carrots a little longer (you can see that they’re a little gritty in the photos – that’s because they were undercooked), I was really happy with how these two dishes turned out. The sweetness of the carrot was great with the ginger and the coconut on the chicken got nice and toasty and made the perfect crispy coating. I used boneless chicken thighs, which have a lot more flavor and are a lot juicer than breast meat. Plus if you buy thighs with the skin on and just take it off yourself, it’s so much cheaper than buying boneless, skinless breast!

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Coconut Chicken

  • 1 Lb boneless chicken thighs, skin removed (about 3 or 4 thighs)
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut
  • 2 Tbs oil

Cut each thigh in half – but through the thin part of the thigh as though you were going to butterfly it, so that you have two flat-ish pieces. Use a meat mallet to pound each piece out into a thin cutlet. Toss the thighs with flour to coat them very lightly.

Combine the breadcrumbs and coconut in a shallow dish. Add the egg to a second dish. Dip the chicken into the egg and then into the coconut mixture, coating it well. Repeat with remaining chicken pieces.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken – working in batches if you need to so that you don’t crowd the pan – and cook for 4 minutes on each side, or until the breading is crispy and the chicken is cooked through. Remove from the pan and blot off any excess oil with a paper towel. Let rest on the towel until ready to serve.

Roasted Carrot-Ginger Puree

  • 4 carrots
  • 1-inch piece of ginger, grated
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 1/4 cup skim milk

Preheat oven to 425.

Peel the carrots and cut them into 1-inch pieced. Place the carrots into a small roasting dish and toss with the ginger. Break the butter up into several small pieces and sprinkle over the carrots. Roast for 40 minutes, or until the carrots are very soft.

Transfer the carrots and ginger to a food processor and process for a few seconds until it starts to get smooth (you can also use a potato masher or eggbeaters to do this). Add the milk and process until smooth.