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Banana & Coconut Panko Chicken

If you’ve been reading along for a while, you know that I have caught a little bit of the recipe contest bug. It all started with the Central Market Hatch contest, then I moved on to the Healthy Food Fight, had a brief stint with Jam-Jams in the Dallas Morning News cookie competition finals, and now I’ve found a Chiquita contest.

Do you know how many recipe contests there are? Its crazy. So many major brands hold some kind of contest. Pillsbury does some kind of bake-off that awards the winner with one million dollars? You bet I’ll be entering that contest when it opens up again in 2014.

Anyway, I came across an ad for this Chiquita banana recipe contest.  There are three different categories: dessert, appetizer, and entree. Of course I have a ton of banana dessert recipes, and I have my banana smoothie recipe, but I really wanted to do something different for this contest. 

After some tinkering in the kitchen this weekend, I decided I was going to compete in the entree division.  With that in mind, I started brainstorming about flavors that might be good with bananas.  Instantly, I thought bananas would be great with spice.  The mild creaminess of a banana would pair perfectly with the heat from peppers. With bananas being such a tropical fruit, I also knew I wanted to incorporate other tropical flavors. 

This recipe was my first attempt at using bananas in a savory dish and I was pleasantly surprised with how it came out.  It also has been man tested and approved. Both Wes and Will (his brother) tried it and thought it was yummy.  Honestly, this is something that is going to find its way into my dinner rotation.  It is slightly sweet, delivers on flavor, and keeps people guessing about what is in it.

Of course, everything fried pretty much turns out awesome. But, to ensure the flavors were really good, I also baked half of the chicken.  I actually liked the way the oven chicken turned out better; however, I think the boys preferred the fried. 

I know it sounds a little weird, but I promise it is delicious. And very original. Serve it with my mango avocado salsa and a nice boat drink, and you’ll feel like you are on a tropical vacation in the middle of November. 

Well maybe not quite, but it will be a nice change from the chili’s and soups I’ve been pushing.

Banana & Coconut Panko Chicken

For the marinade:
1 clove garlic
3/4 can light coconut milk
3 small Chiquita bananas, broken into thirds
1 large Serrano pepper
1 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
3/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 1/4 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp curry powder
Juice of one lime
1/2 cup cilantro
Dash of pepper

For the chicken:
2 chicken breasts, chopped into pieces
1 cup Panko breadcrumbs (more if needed)
1 1/2 cups prepared Basmati rice
Dash of salt and pepper
Canola Oil for pan frying (amount varies)

For the sauce:
1/3 cup reserved marinade
1/4 can Light Coconut milk
1/4 cup chicken stock
1 tbsp butter
Dash of Cayenne
Dash of Salt
Dash of Pepper

In a food processor, pulse all of the ingredients for the marinade until smooth. Chop chicken breasts into small chunks. Marinate chicken chunks for about an hour.

Remove chicken pieces from marinade and coat in panko crumbs.

If you choose to oven bake, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake chicken for about 25 minutes, flipping chicken half way through.

If pan frying, warm canola oil in a large skillet. Add in chicken pieces and fry until cooked through, flipping when golden brown. Remove chicken pieces from skillet to a separate plate.

Once all the chicken is cooked, add butter to the skillet. Let melt, then add remaining marinade, additional coconut milk, chicken stock, cayenne, salt and pepper. Adjust seasonings to taste.

Serve chicken over basmati rice with sauce on top.

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