Whoever came up with "Everything old is new again" must have been thinking of olive oil. This ancient condiment fits perfectly into modern lives, more popular and more delicious than ever. Not only is olive oil extremely healthy, especially extra virgin olive oil, but current technology helps it stay fresher longer, giving the cook more time and opportunities. This blog post focuses on the tasty relationship between olive oil and the Cinder Grill, and how to make the most of both together.
Olive oil for Healthy Cooking
The premiere grade of olive oil is the famous extra virgin, but that’s not the only one available. One of the special aspects of extra virgin olive oil is its high level of polyphenols and other healthy compounds. However, polyphenols especially come in large molecules which break down over heat. For this reason, the best grade for cooking is actually plain, refined olive oil. Save the beautiful EVOO olive oil for toppings and condiments.
Olive Oil for Uncooked Sauces
Olive oil makes a healthy, luscious base for cold sauces such as salsas and relishes. Just chop up the herbs, vegetables, and other items that strike your fancy and turn the little pile into a condiment with salt, pepper, and a generous amount of EVOO. This is the perfect application for extra virgin, taking advantage not only of its delicious flavor but of oil’s ability to dissolve other flavors. This helps preserve and mingle the flavors for the best effect. Try making a chimichurri or a salsa and dolloping the cold sauce onto a freshly seared chicken breast or salmon steak for a flavor and temperature contrast that can’t be beat!
Olive Oil for Hot Sauces
A common finishing step in making many pan sauces is to “mount” them, or thicken and enrich them, often with softened butter. Lush EVOO can pull off this trick as well! Due to olive oil’s lack of water and emulsifiers you’ll have to whisk a little harder, but its large molecules will slip into your sauce with only a little effort. Of course, if you’d rather make a cooked roux, remember to use plain olive oil, and whisk in a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil at the very end.
Olive Oil as a Condiment
Like many of the best foods, from coffee to cheese, wine to vanilla, olive oil can express that mysterious quality known as terroir. This is when the location of a food’s production greatly affects its qualities of taste and texture. Look at your olive oil, both on the bottle and online, to discover the special aspects of its terroir. Then take advantage of those qualities, whether your oil is peppery, buttery, grassy, or more, to use the oil itself as a condiment on foods from toasted bread to seared steak.
Olive Oil Not for Searing
With all these possibilities, what can’t olive oil do? Well, in a word, sear. Because of its rich and complex makeup, extra virgin olive oil denatures and then burns at relatively low heat. Even refined olive oil has a smoke point of 360F, far below the Cinder Grill’s sear at 450. Burning such a precious oil will do no favors to the oil, the food, or the chef. So don’t try to use olive oil to sear.
Recipes Using Olive Oil
Of course we list quite a few dishes featuring olive oil on our Recipes page. Here are a few which demonstrate some of the points in this blog post:
- This Guinea Hen recipe by Michelin Starred Chef Critchley features an uncooked relish built on EVOO.
- Spaghetti Squash soaks in olive oil and garlic as it cooks, soaking up the rich flavors the oil carries.
- An exception to the no-cook rule, these marinated Sungold Tomatoes use very gentle heat to bring out the flavors of the tomatoes and marinade.
- A good drizzle of olive oil fittingly dresses this beautiful beet salad, making the roasted root vegetables glisten like jewels.
Take these recipes as inspiration but don’t stop here. The possibilities are endless when you combine olive oil and the Cinder Grill!