This led to the SP taking leftovers to lunch, which led to his co-worker asking for the recipe, which led to many discussions among the menfolk about diet and what is supposedly good for you, with the SP passing along all my reading about fats and oils and proteins and tofu and processed crap.
I may have started a little mini-cult. Heh Heh. (Seriously. The Recipe is here. Go try it.)
But he asked me a question I couldn't answer this morning, having to do with olive oil. See, I've heard for years that you couldn't use olive oil for frying, because of olive oil's supposedly low smoke point, but over the past year I'd been using more and more olive oil in my frying mixture, and now I am using it exclusively, and I have not had a single problem with it smoking or overheating at 375°.
So I went looking for an answer to this olive oil problem. And it seems--as I suspected--the idea that olive oil can't be used for cooking is so much propaganda. I shouldn't be at all surprised if it originated with the Crisco manufacturers, back in the 1920's.
From the Olive Oil source:
If you go to the internet or the market to look for smoke points you will see something interesting. Every oil claims to have the highest smoke point. One website for macadamia nut oil puts their oil at the top of the list with a smoke point of 410 degrees F. On their chart, olive oil comes in at a measly 190 degrees F. This is below the temperature of a hot cup of tea!
The Olive Oil Source claims that extra virgin olive oil smokes from 400 to 365 degrees F, according to it's free fatty acid content. But the macadamia nut folk say that olive oil smokes at the temperature of hot water out of the tap; 190 degrees. When I suggested to the macadamia people that it seemed unlikely that olive oil smokes at a temperature lower than boiling water and that maybe they were confusing centigrade with Fahrenheit they insisted they were right.
So who do you trust for the real smoke point? Here is what some research yielded:
The International Olive Oil Council: 410˚
Institute of Shortening and Edible Oils: 420˚
Or why not get some olive oil off the shelf and heat it up in a saucepan with a frying thermometer? This is properly done in a lab with special lighting which shows the first hint of smoke. My stovetop experiment yielded 350 degrees for a jug of discount store oil which had been sitting open in the garage for a few years and 380 for a premium fresh extra virgin oil. Olive oil is fine for frying.
And if that's too random for you, here's the skinny from Food Network:
The filtration process for this light-style oil also gives it a higher smoke point than regular olive oil. Light olive oils can therefore be used for high-heat frying, whereas regular olive oil is better suited for low- to medium-heat cooking, as well as for many uncooked foods such as salad dressings and marinades. The International Olive Oil Institute recommends using pure olive oil for frying, since the flavor of extra virgin olive oil tends to break down at frying temperatures, making the added expense a waste.
I like the olive oil. Since I'm using the Pomace, or third-press, oil, it's relatively inexpensive, it has little or no taste of its own (at least compared to canola or peanut oil) and it doesn't give me heartburn or bowel discomfort the way Crisco does.
Of course you can use whatever oil you like. I just enjoy bursting other people's absurd balloons. Now go forth and fry!