I'm a foodie to the core; and when I run across a new item or a new way for using or incorporating an old and healthy ingredient into my cooking I go for it! Not long ago coconut oil was used in everyday cooking. It's a very healthy oil and considered to be a 'low calorie' fat. Saturated-yes, dangerous-absolutely not! In this article you will learn how to incorporated coconut oil into your cooking in a very flavorful way. We'll cover:
- Coconut oil benefits
- Two techniques for infusing coconut oil with natural flavors and nuances to add complexity to your meals
- To give you a broad foundation to apply this technique to other dishes
Let's take a quick look at coconut oil, what it is, why it's good for you and why it had been given such bad PR in the past.
Coconut oil benefits
Coconut oil is a saturated fat from the meat of the coconut. It's rich, creamy and solid at room temperature. It stands up to oxidation extremely well, can be stored outside of your refrigerator for about 2+ years without going rancid and has a number of applications from culinary to health and even industrial.
The unique composition of fat in the coconut oil is made up of what is called MCTs or medium chain triglycerides or MCFAs, which is the same as medium chain fatty acids.
MCFAs are used in our bodies to fight infection, parasites, fungus, food poisoning... they're also used to generate energy, protect the heart, they're great for skin ailments and the list continues. How in the world can something like this get such a bad rap?
Bad association and a lack of quality investigative research!
MCFAs, like coconut oil, are far different from their LCFA or long chain fatty acids, like their cholesterol contributing counterparts, animal fat, in that they don't require the onslaught of digestive enzymes to breakdown. MCFAs have the ability to bypass much of the digestive process and be used immediately by the liver to generate energy and provide the body with protective chemicals. According to Dr. Bruce Fife, N.D. in "Coconut Cures - Preventing and Treating Common Health Problems with Coconut" on page 222, folks who've had their gallbladder removed can and should used coconut oil in all their cooking. Fat is imperative for our bodies to absorb certain nutrients and without the gallbladder present to store up enough bile to digest the fats eaten, a fat that doesn't require the presence of the bile to make it usable to the system is crucial. That's where coconut oil comes in.
Can you imagine taking this flavorful oil, that's easy on digestion, loaded with health promoting benefits and adding it to your culinary repertoire? IT WOULD BE AWESOME!!! Here's the 'how-tos'.
Two techniques for infusing coconut oil with natural flavors and nuances to add complexity to your meals
There are many ways to do this that are right. Here's two of the techniques I use.
For just the essence of your herbs and / or spices use this technique:
- In a glass jar 1 cup melted coconut oil [keep the temperature warm between 130 - 165 degrees Fahrenheit using indirect heat - like in a double boiler, crock pot, steam bath, etc.]
- Add to a cheesecloth pouch the following:
- 1 fresh basil leaf
2 fresh mint leaves
1 tsp dried toasted fennel seeds
5 toasted and cracked peppercorns
1 fresh bay leaf
1 tsp rosemary leaves and
1/2 tsp dill seed
- Place the pouch into the heated oil and let stand for minimum 1/2 hour. [The longer you keep it in the heated oil the more flavor you'll extract]
Once you've gotten the strength you desire you can remove the pouch and put your infused oil to the side and use it in your savory dishes. It'll add a beautiful nuance to your meals.
For a more robust flavor use this technique:
- Take all of those ingredients, minus the cheesecloth, and fry them quickly in a skillet and strain into a sterile glass jar and let cool. Use this in your savory dishes as well.
Giving you a broad foundation
The beautiful thing about this process is that you can use it with pretty much any of the herbs and spices for savory, sweet and spicy dishes alike. This means desserts can be enhanced by infusing your oil in this fashion before adding it to your recipe. You'll just use seasonings that lend themselves to sweet things like: anise, vanilla bean, clove, cardamom, cinnamon, etc.
Well, you've got the healing properties of coconut oil, a couple of new techniques to use with it and a great foundation to expand from and apply these techniques to your other dishes from sweet to savory.
Give this a try and you'll never look at oil the same. You'll impart a high-end flavor to your dishes.
As always, it's been my pleasure sharing these techniques with you. Until next time...