The health and beauty benefits of coconut—and coconut oil in particular—are well-documented and buzzed-about, but still, I usually find myself reaching for the bottle of extra virgin olive oil when I’m in the kitchen. Maybe it’s just out of habit, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but coconut oil is a tasty alternative that I’d like to use more often to give food a subtly sweet kick. And it’s not just oil that you can cook with—coconut milk and shavings are other easy products that can be used to replace less-healthy ingredients like cow’s milk or bread crumbs. (Since, let’s be honest, none of us are every going to buy and bring home an actual coconut.)
I asked Hunter Pritchett, Chef Partner at Los Angeles-based restaurant The Chicken or the Egg, for his top ways to use coconut. Check out his two simple (but delicious-sounding) recipes below, which are a great way to use coconut oil, milk and palm sugar. For even more coconut recipe ideas, scroll down to the slideshow below.
Coconut Oil Popcorn
“To step up your popcorn game, pop your corn in extra virgin coconut oil. It adds a subtle nuttiness and sweetness to my go-to late night snack. I pop my corn in a dutch oven on the stove, add a tablespoon of coconut palm sugar when it’s about three-quarters of the way popped, and then sprinkle with smoked salt and cayenne. So good!”
Coconut Dulce de Leche
“For a better version of dulce de leche, use full fat coconut milk and coconut palm sugar. Take 2 cups coconut milk, 2 cups coconut palm sugar, ¼ tsp. of baking powder and pour into a pot. Whisk over medium heat and bring to simmer, allow to caramelize for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally until dark brown and toasted. I cool the dulce de leche and glaze homemade donuts with them, and garnish with toasted coconut.”