Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Patatas fritas--olive oil fries.

I’ve just come back from the mill with a 5-liter jug of fresh extra virgin olive oil, fruit of my labor—I picked 60 kilos (132 pounds) of olives. I’ve still got more to pick, so, hopefully, I’ll earn another 5 to 10 liters, enough for all my cooking for about nine months.

Olive oil from the mill.
I use olive oil exclusively in my kitchen—to “butter” the toast, to baste a turkey, drizzle on green beans, dress a salad, sautée and stir-fry. I don’t do a lot of “deep” frying, not because olive oil is not suitable, but because of calorie considerations.

But today I’m making a pile of fries, Spanish fries, olive oil fries. Fried potatoes are a wonderful flavor-test for new oil. I thick-cut the potatoes, heat the oil to about 360ºF—only about 2 inches of oil, enough to barely submerge the potatoes. At that temperature the oil is shimmering, not quite smoking. —and let them fry until tender, lightly crusted and golden. This takes 10 to 15 minutes.

Potatoes frying in olive oil.
Drained on paper towels and sprinkled with salt, they are ready to eat. These fries are not crisp. If you want them crisp, more like “french” fries, reheat the oil and return the potatoes to the pan until browned. They will emerge from the second frying with a crunchy exterior.

When the oil is cool, I strain and reserve it. Olive oil can be used three or four times for frying. (Unlike other oils, which break down with repeated use.) Maybe some croquettes or boquerones, fresh anchovies, will be next.

Whatever you’ve heard about olive oil not being suitable for deep frying is a myth. What can be said is that, because the fruity olive aromas are lost at high temperatures, frying is not what you want to do with your very pricey, delicate olive oil. My extra virgin oil, straight from the mill, is relatively cheap. I can afford to use it for frying. If cost is an issue, you can use non-virgin olive oil (simply labeled “olive oil”), for frying.

To accompany my patatas fritas, fried potatoes, I made some piquillo pepper garlic mayonnaise, also using the new oil. Really good slathered on a burger, too.

Olive Oil Mayonnaise with Garlic and Piquillo Peppers

Makes about 1 cup.

1 to 2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 egg, at room temperature
¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice or 2 tablespoons vinegar
2 canned piquillo peppers, well drained, or roasted red peppers

Put the garlic and egg in a blender and pulse until garlic is finely chopped. With the motor running, pour in the oil in a slow trickle, allowing it to be absorbed by the egg before adding more. Blend in all the oil. The sauce will emulsify and thicken. Blend in the salt and lemon juice. Add the chopped piquillo peppers and blend until smooth.

The sauce will keep, refrigerated, for up to 2 days.

Fries with piquillo alioli.


  1. It amazes me how few restaurants make really good fries or bravas, at least here in Valencia. It also amazes me that I only started making mayonnaise a few short months ago. I'm always looking for new ways to use piquillo peppers so I will try this recipe soon.

  2. Leftbanker: restaurants, even in Andalusia, rarely use olive oil for their fritos. Yeah, mayonnaise homemade is great! Thanks for listing me on your blog roll.