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A Flavorful Finale: How to Use Olive Oil as a Finisher

Posted by Chef Mario & Lynn Olivi and Katie Jarecki, The Olive Tap Downers Grove on

Olive Oil is so versatile, yet its numerous assets are often “un-tapped”by many. The question we often hear from our clients is what to do with Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO). They ask, "Is it for cooking or salad dressing?" Indeed those are two common uses for EVOO, but there are many other uses as well. In Europe, the Mediterranean countries especially, EVOO is used as a finishing touch to add flavor, texture and complexity to dishes. Finishing a dish with EVOO involves simply drizzling a little on the dish just before serving. Just like a pat of butter on a pancake, a drizzle of EVOO can add a lot to grilled steak, chicken, fish, steamed vegetables or potatoes.

Consider these options:

A lean steak can taste dry and need a little flavor boost. Adding salt can help, but all it does is to stimulate saliva. A robust olive oil, such as our Coratina , replaces the flavor that a well-marbled steak has and adds complexity, tenderness, and flavor. Top with a dusting of sea salt to bring out the flavor in both the olive oil and the steak.

Broiled chicken breast can be dry; that's why a good chef will create a nice sauce for the chicken. Dark meat chicken tastes better because the meat contains more chicken fat, but lean white meat chicken leaves a dry feel in the mouth. Finishing chicken breasts with a generous drizzle of a mild to medium olive oil, for example Koroneiki, a bit of lemon juice and a sprinkle of herbs creates a succulent and flavorful dish that is simple and healthy.

Since pork is such a lean meat, when a chop or tenderloin is well done, it will need the help of a sauce or other finisher. A delicate and fruity olive oil, such as our Arbequina, complements the pork and adds moistness.

Drizzling your popcorn with extra virgin olive oil provides a wonderful base for your custom seasoning blend. Or simply serving the popcorn alone with EVOO will surely boost that bowl of popcorn into a delicious treat!

Forget about adding the extra cheese to pizza; drizzle a pungent olive oil, such as our newest Kalamata, to jazz up the entire pie…from crust to sauce to toppings!

Olive oil is wonderful as a finisher when you want to add a touch of European flare to a dish. A breaded veal cutlet topped with an egg is a la Holstein, but when finished with fresh, peppery olive oil, it becomes Veal Scallopini. Broiled chicken in barbecue sauce is as American as the apple pie dessert, but with a Greek olive oil, some lemon and oregano, it changes to Greek chicken. Adding a Spanish olive to to a Cajun étouffée can transform it to a paella.

The possibilities are endless! Finish your favorite dish with a drizzle of your favorite extra virgin olive oil and taste the difference yourself!