Who knew Spanish olive oil was so very different from the Italian kind? I’m talking flavor here, which really is the only thing that counts, isn’t it? And this oil has more -- how shall I say it -- robust flavor.
I can’t even tell you why or how I happened to lay hands on -- don’t you dare laugh -- Goya extra virgin olive oil. It has become my golden, fruity, fabulous favorite, at least for this month, maybe the next as well.
Usually I go straight for one of two bottles, the very darkest green Italian oil on the shelf or the one with the least color, the former for drizzling and dressings, the latter for frying. I would be embarrassed to say how many years that’s been the rule.
And then, and then, one day I unpacked the bags from the market, and there stood a bottle of Goya, not a hint of green about it, it’s curvy, thin bottle mocking me and the fat bottle already on the shelf. I honestly don’t remember having picked it up, and it stood unopened on a shelf separate from the other oils (it wouldn‘t fit where the others are kept) until the morning I wanted to sizzle up some cold leftover potatoes.
Snap (that’s the seal on the lid breaking).
I poured it into a heated skillet, and the kitchen filled with the aroma. Even the potatoes smelled somehow more tantalizing as they browned, as if the bits left in the bottom of the pan were different, tastier somehow, because of the oil. I was so inspired, I poured some vegetable broth into the skillet after removing the potatoes, scraped up the browned bits, let it reduce a bit and poured it over the potatoes.
Great flavor, great browned crunch, lovely “sauce.”
OK, what’s going on here? I had to find out and so went in search of more information. The site with the best information has been neglected, but you have to imagine that basic info -- historical, if you will -- couldn’t have changed in the past 18 months.
The second site, the unbiquitous About site which apparently blocks links, talks about a well stocked Spanish kitchen; you can find it with a good browser search. And the third lets you mail order Spanish ingredients including what I’m told is another must-have ingredient for Spanish cooking, sweet paprika or pimenton.
I could be on the tail end of a trend here, and if I am the last one to make this discovery, at least I’ve made it. But if you haven’t tried this oil, these flavors, please do.
Here’s a recipe from that neglected site to get you started, but if you love food, if you love to cook and try new things, you’ll surely find sites and recipes of your own to explore. And when you do, please let us hear about what you’ve found.
RED AND YELLOW PEPPER OILS
AND MANGO CHUTNEY
This is from the Olive Oil from Spain Web site, the neglected one I mentioned earlier, and the architect of the recipe if Chef Kerry Simon. I tried this but was too lazy to make the red and yellow pepper oils. The dish is just fine without them, but they probably will make an otherwise fine dish sing.
1 pork loin roast, 2 pounds
2 cups finely diced mango, about 2 large
3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
3 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons molasses
1 red bell pepper, cored and seeded
1 yellow bell pepper, cored and seeded
Spanish Extra Virgin Olive Oil
For the Red Pepper Oil:
In a food processor, puree one red bell pepper. Strain well through a mesh sieve and press out all the juices with the back of a spoon. Pour pepper juice into a heavy bottom sauce pan and reduce till sauce consistency. Let cool.
Place juice in a blender and slowly drizzle in 1/3 cup of olive oil.
For the Yellow Pepper Oil:
Repeat the same process for the yellow bell pepper.
For the Mango Chutney:
Combine the diced mango, cilantro, molasses, lime juice, and 1/2 tsp sea salt in a mixing bowl. Adjust seasoning to taste. Set aside until ready to serve.
For the Pork Loin Roast:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Heat a medium oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat. Season the pork on all sides with salt and pepper. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil to the pan and sear the roast on all sides, browning well. Place the skillet in the oven and cook until the middle of the roast reaches a temperature of 160-165 degrees on a meat thermometer. Remove from the oven and let rest 5 minutes. To serve, place the roast on a cutting board and slice against the grain into 1/4 inch slices. Reserve any juices from the pan and add to the chutney.
Serve the pork with the chutney and a drizzle of each pepper oil.