They say you can't fry with extra virgin olive oil. "They" say "it's unhealthy" and that it burns creating toxic byproducts. Some folks say, for instance, that "one should only use extra virgin olive oil for finishing and cold applications, and use cheaper, refined olive oil or other types of vegetable oils to fry and cook with." You've heard this mantra repeated by chefs, perhaps prominent public figures and even Food Network celebrities. You might've even heard this from dieticians and those who seem like a good source of information on the topic of culinary applications with extra virgin olive oil. Well, guess what? "They" are wrong, sort of.
What's more than likely, is that "they" are using poor quality, old, and/or adulterated extra virgin olive oil. If the FFA of an olive oil is over .5, will it smoke at lower temperatures? Heck yes! If it's old, oxidized, and devoid of good phenolic content, will it stave off the formation of toxic aldehydes that typically form in other types of cooking oils when heated? Nope, at least not as effectively! So the key is knowing the crush date and chemistry of the extra virgin olive oil you are using.
Most TV celebrity chefs would go blank if asked to define FFA, oleic acid, or phenols and the role they play in the stability and health benefit of extra virgin olive oil. Most doctors and dieticians are well behind the curve on their practical knowledge of the chemical parameters of extra virgin olive oil, and which ones are particularly important when we look at nutrients, stability, and how they affect suitability for various culinary applications.
*Disclaimer: In the making of the deep fried risotto croquette above, no Up Extra Virgin Olive Oil was made to smoke, nor were toxic aldehydes formed
Truffled Wild Mushroom Risotto & Arancini in Baby Arugula UP Pesto
Porcini/Shitake Mushroom Stock
5 cups water brought to a simmer
2 cups of a mixture of dried Porcini mushrooms and Shitake mushrooms broken in to pieces or coarsely chopped
Bring the water just up to a simmer and then add the mushrooms. Allow to steep for 30 minutes before using in recipes. Strain before using.
Make the risotto:
5 cups mushroom stock
3 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Baby Arugula Pesto
1 large clove garlic chopped
Sea salt to taste
Add all of the ingredients to the the container of a a blender or food processor. Pulse to combine and adjust seasoning with salt if desired. Serve with the arancini above or with bread, pasta, vegetables.... you name it.