Even though olive oil is one of the healthiest oils to use in meal preparation, many people hesitate to use it in fried dishes, including eggs. The idea that heating olive oil is unhealthy, however, has largely been debunked. Use the right version of olive oil and the best method of preparation to enjoy a delicious fried egg dish any time of day or night.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Frying an egg in olive oil gives it an earthy, complex flavor that varies according to the type of olive oil you choose. Extra virgin olive oil is the most desirable because of its superior taste and the lack of chemicals during processing. When using oil for frying, the smoking point is what makes the difference. You do not want the oil to begin smoking before it reaches temperatures high enough to create a crispy exterior while still penetrating to the desired level. Extra virgin olive oil has a smoking point between 380 and 410 degrees Fahrenheit, easily placing it within acceptable temperatures for frying to perfection.
Chef José Andrés, dean of Spanish Studies at the International Culinary Center in Manhattan, described his technique of frying an egg in olive oil in the "New York Times" in 2012. Rather than sauteing in a small amount of oil, he recommends a deep-frying approach. Using about four tablespoons of olive oil at medium-high heat, he tips the pan and slides the egg into the oil, then gently spoons hot oil over the top as it cooks. After flipping once in the hot oil bath, a perfect crust is formed, making it crispy all over.
Mixing it Up
Additional ingredients turn a perfectly fried egg into a masterpiece dish. Use olive oil to sauté greens and other vegetables that are served beneath or on top fried eggs. Toss onions in heated olive oil with kale, broccoli or squash, and add toasted nuts. Fry your eggs in olive oil on the side, then serve them on top of the vegetables, adding some feta or goat cheese to keep with the Mediterranean theme.
Herbs and Spices
Enhance the flavor of fried eggs with herbs and spices. Sprinkle them on top or buy infused olive oils. Shop at a store that specializes in herb-infused olive oils, as these outlets provide the purest oils made with fresh herbs. Put a taste of Tuscany in your morning by frying your eggs in olive oil infused with oregano, basil and rosemary, then sprinkled with asiago or Parmesan cheese. Serve with chunks of fresh pugliese or ciabatta bread. Alternately, spice things up with olive oils infused with hot peppers. Add some citrusy twang with Persian lime or Sorrento orange infusions.
Wendy K. Leigh is a travel writer and photojournalist from Seattle. She is the Editor of Islands America, a travel website for visiting islands within the United States. She also writes about home design, food and historical architecture. Leigh holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Washington.
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