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Lower-Carb Popcorn Chicken with Summer Salad

KEVIN CURRY: Kevin Curry's Lower-Carb Popcorn Chicken with a Texas Summer Salad
KEVIN CURRY: Kevin Curry's Lower-Carb Popcorn Chicken with a Texas Summer SaladTODAY

Chef notes

This lighter version of "fried" chicken cuts over 60% of the carbohydrates compared to the traditional version. It's baked instead of fried, calls for light coconut milk instead of cream, and also uses heart healthy almond flour instead of white flour, which supplies additional protein and healthy fats.

Technique tips: Make sure the orange is fully peeled with no white traces of pith. Cut it into slices over the salad or over a bowl to collect the juice.

Swap option: This salad is essentially a trip to my local farmer's market. It's a taste of the summer produce in Texas but you can customize the ingredients based on what's in season in your area. For example, if you can't find mâche lettuce you can swap in chopped bok choy or torn Boston lettuce.


Popcorn chicken
  • pounds chicken breasts, cut into thumb-sized pieces
  • 1/2 cup light coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon hot sauce (optional)
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan
  • 3 tablespoons whole wheat Panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoon dried rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed pink grapefruit, lemon or orange juice
  • tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Summer salad
  • 1 bundle thick asparagus, chopped
  • 2 cups mâche rosettes
  • 1 cup arugula
  • 10-15 cherry tomatoes, cut into quarters
  • 1 large sweet orange, peeled and thinly sliced into circles
  • 1 large ripe avocado, cut into thin slices
  • Green onion, finely chopped
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Fresh cilantro, roughly chopped (optional)


For the popcorn chicken:


Combine the coconut milk and hot sauce in a zip-top plastic bag. Add the chicken pieces and marinate for at least 1 hour.


Preheat the oven to 400°F.


In a bowl, whisk together the almond flour, Parmesan, whole wheat panko breadcrumbs and dried rosemary. Dip the chicken pieces into the flour mixture to coat, then place them on a baking sheet or baking wire rack (preferred). Bake for 15-18, or until golden brown and cooked through.

For the dressing:

In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, citrus juice, mustard and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper to taste and set aside.

For the salad:


Bring a pot of water to a boil and prepare an ice bath. Cook the asparagus for 2 to 3 minutes, then immediately place the cooked asparagus into the ice bath to cool.


In a large bowl, toss together the asparagus, mâche, arugula, tomatoes and orange slices. Pour in some of the dressing and lightly toss.


Place the salad on a large platter, top with the avocado slices and popcorn chicken. Garnish with the green onion, a few turns of black pepper and cilantro.