Mar 12, 2010

Rach..whats cooking? I see smoke :) EVOO facts gone wrong?

Rachel Ray...I know I know..the name does not inspire much of ooh's and aah's in the foodie blogdom :) And there are reasons. I will give that to  ya'll. But, I adore her. Simply do. It isn't so much that I am a big fan of her recipes. It does not hep that I am not a fan of the concept of recipes in the first place. But what I like best  about her, is her earthy, rustic approach to cooking. Anything goes. And there aren't any rules. I like it. Cos me is like that. In the kitchen, one can't be too cautious :) 

But one thing I recently did find out, that got even me a little worried. Use of extra virgin Olive oil (EVOO) in Rachel's recipes. Now I use extra virgin olive oil in any cooking. Almost all. I use it in salads, dressings, baking, fries, cooking..and this I did pick up from Ray. Till I found out, how terrible it might have been. Turns out that all forms of cooking fat-oil and butter mostly-- have something called a 'smoke point'. A temperature above which these fats break down and release harmful chemicals. Carcinogens. Cancer causing stuff. And this smoke point is lowest for canola oil and extra virgin oilve oil! ~ 225F. We don't make anything at such low temperatures.  Scary Scary. But does that mean we don't use our favorite olive oil? No! We simply used regular olive oil which has been refined enough to have very high smoke points. 470F. In fact light olive oil is the best with even higher smoke points. Here is a link that explains it all so well. 

I checked my blogs to see what oil I have been recommending. Was relieved to see I suggested any good quality olive oil. Whew :). Anyways basic point is extra virgin olive oil and canola oil is good and full of nutrients and should thereby not be used for heating. Just use it in salads, dressings etc. Veggie oil, sunflower oil and light oilve oil, which high smoke points for cooking and baking!! 

Rach..girl..I love you..but you surely are out of line here ? :)

Anyways, having said so, Rach did have a fantastic middle eastern chicken recipe this week, and I did make something similar to it. Turned out super good. 

Here's the recipe. Using Light Olive Oil!


  •  2-3 tbsf light olive oil. You definitely can use regular oil as well. 
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs, chopped into bite-sized pieces. You can use regular chicken as well. Just keep in mind that the time to cook would go up. But tastes way better :)
  • 1 onion, coarsely sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, grated or chopped
  • 1 carrots. Coarsely cubed
  • 1  bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon paprika. Smoked is best. Hot is good too, if you like heat :)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • Pinch ground cinnamon. You can use a bit of unground cinnamon too.
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 2.5 cups of hot water. 
  • Handful flat-leaf parsley, chopped. You can easily sub with Cilantro

Here is what I did :)

Heat the olive oil in a deep skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil ripples add the chicken and brown 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Add the onions, garlic, carrots, bay leaf and season with spices, salt and pepper, cook 5 to 6 minutes. Add the zest of the lemon, and 2 1/2 cups of stock. Reduce heat to low and simmer 10 minutes more. Sprinkle with lemon juice and turn off heat. Somehow adding the lemon juice early on just makes the dish a bit bitter. So  when using lemon juice, its prolly best to finish off that dish adding the juice at the very end :)
 Garnish with parsley.

Indeed a lovely middle easternish dish. Great to be had with some full bodies red wine. My choice is Cabernet


Marjie said...

I stir extra virgin olive oil into pasta dishes, and use it in making bread, where it's only mixed with warm water to form the dough. It's so expensive that I never saw the sense of using it in frying, when the flavor isn't any different than the light olive oil. That said, I like your chicken recipe idea! And I've never watched the food network - does that make me weird - so I have no opinions on Rachael Ray. She's popular, so she must be doing something right!

Natashya KitchenPuppies said...

Sounds delish! I love Middle Eastern flavours.

Pam said...

I usually peanut oil for high temperature sautes. I think it has a pretty high smoke point.

Kim said...

I've really been into the middle eastern food lately. This sounds delicious.

Bellini Valli said...

I enjoy RR recipes as well. Some are a little off the wall but she comes up with some good ideas too. My thoughts on olive oil...European countries have been cooking with it for centuries, but when I cook I do tend to use canola oil since it is lighter.

tasteofbeirut said...

I love to have olive oil fresh with labneh (cheese) or in a salad, but I hardly ever cook with it.

Trish said...

I would simply expire without my EVO. But yes, I am very aware of its limitations...and frying is one. Sauteing is fine... frying...nope! Grin! I guess I don't notice it though that much as I simply hardly ever fry, you know...really fry, anything. BTW...great little recipe. I love middle eastern food and am dying to drive into the city to update my spices. I am sooooo soooo sooo in need of Za'atar although I can easily make my own I suppose. Ta...have a great day my dear friend.

Natasha said...

I have so many oils in my house it is ridiculous! I only use EVOO for salad dressings and dishes that don't require cooking for the very same reason you mentioned. Same goes for burnt meat on a grill/BBQ.

Your recipe looks great-I will have to give it a go!

Best wishes,

Trix said...

Sometimes I think I say to use it without thinking! oops, better go check!

A Year on the Grill said...

personally, EVOO when it tastes and canola oil when it heats

香蕉哥哥 said...


Culinary Alchemist said...

I am a big fan of the light olive oil for sauteing, but like Pam, I sneak Peanut oil in every once in awhile, especially if I am actually "frying". Much higher smoke point, and still high in the mono-unsaturated fats... :)

The Japanese Redneck said...

We use some EVOO. Not a lot of it.

Erica said...

I love olive oil mix with butter to brown poultry. The flavors in the dish sound delicious.

Chow and Chatter said...

great points on the olive oil

Sanjana said...

This would be amazing with paneer! I'm gonna try it next week :) Thanks for visiting me at KO Rasoi... I really look forward to your entry for the Wear Your Food Competition :)