Olive Oil Infusion Recipe: A Cook’s Secret Weapon
This holiday season, let’s make a pact to give foodie gifts our friends and loved ones will welcome rather than re-gift (looking at you, fruitcake). Instead, try your hand at infusing olive oil for a welcome and practical cooking tool. Infused oils are also great to have on hand for your own Thanksgiving and Christmas cooking. They’re easy to make and require only basic kitchen equipment. Below, I share three of my favorite olive oil infusion recipes that you can make at home.
A few pointers before we begin. Start with a good extra virgin olive oil that’s not too peppery and always use fresh ingredients for the infusion—Jordan Estate Extra Virgin Olive Oil is our house favorite, of course It’s fun to play off the seasonality of autumn’s olive harvest when choosing your flavoring. For instance, here in Northern California, freshly milled olive oils are typically bottled during winter when mushroom season begins and Meyer lemons and other citrus are at their peak. It’s the ideal time to experiment with different herbs and produce that complement olive oil.
Three Olive Oil Infusion Recipes
Mushroom-Infused Olive Oil
Dried mushrooms and porcini powder impart a beautiful, earthy umami flavor to olive oil. The scent alone is heady. These powders can be sourced at specialty stores, ethnic markets or online. You can also make them yourself by pulverizing dried mushrooms in a spice grinder. The choice of mushroom determines the oil you use. Flavorful, high-quality extra virgin olive oils like Jordan Winery need more aromatic mushrooms, such as black trumpet and candy cap mushrooms, to balance the oil’s peppery notes. Dried mushroom medleys can be substituted, but I recommend using a less intensely flavored oil for the substitution, such as grapeseed or canola. Similarly, a less intense mushroom powder, such as chanterelle, would pair better with a more subtle olive oil.
Temperature is key to maximizing flavor extraction without damaging the delicate ingredients, so a kitchen thermometer will be your best friend here in this step. Both extra virgin olive oil and mushrooms can be harmed by too much heat. But bringing the infusion to 200 degrees will also help to extend its shelf life and kill bacteria. Mushroom-infused olive oil pairs well with red wine, especially Jordan Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, which has a subtle, earthy note found in classic Bordeaux. Drizzle the oil on your favorite pasta or pizza, or use it as a marinade or finishing oil on grilled steak. Toss popcorn with a little bit of the oil and a sprinkle of sea salt for an indulgent snack. I also love to grill cipollini onions with the skin on, then remove the skins and marinate the onions in a jar of mushroom-infused olive oil for a cabernet-friendly picnic side dish. Incredible.
1 oz dried black trumpet and candy cap mushrooms
1 Tbsp dried porcini powder*
1 clove garlic, smashed
½ tsp fennel seed
1 ½ cups Jordan Estate Extra Virgin Olive Oil
*Note: If porcini powder is not available, increase dried mushrooms to 1 ½ oz.
Heat all ingredients in a saucepan slowly on low, bringing to a simmer over 5 minutes. Make sure to bring the oil to 200 degrees. Reduce the heat to the barest simmer for 10 minutes. (Garlic should never get darker than golden brown.) Remove from heat, cover and allow to infuse for 1 hour. Strain through a coffee filter or several layers of cheese cloth. Discard solids and store under refrigeration for up to two weeks. Bring completely to room temperature before each use.
Citrus-Infused Olive Oil
Lemon-infused olive oil might be the first thing that comes to mind when you hear citrus, but don’t be limited by convention. Try unique citrus—I enjoy Kaffir lime or blood orange—but you can also experiment with a combination. Winter coincides with citrus season, meaning supermarkets have a bounty of citrus options around the holidays. Be creative and take advantage of this produce bonanza.
For this infusion, the citrus peel zest and oil are maintained at a warm temperature to maximize flavor extraction. The mixture is then strained, leaving behind a bright and flavorful oil that is perfect in a homemade vinaigrette dressing or drizzled over fish right before serving. Citrus oil pairs well with crisp white wine, such as Jordan Chardonnay or a fine white Burgundy.
2 Meyer lemons, zested on a Microplane (any preferred citrus may be substituted, such as Kaffir lime, blood orange or key lime)
1 one-inch piece lemon grass, crushed
2 cups Jordan Estate Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Heat all ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat until reaching 180 degrees. Maintain that temperature by monitoring carefully with a thermometer for 12 minutes. Place the entire saucepan in the ice bath and chill to arrest cooking. Transfer to a non-reactive container, cover and allow to steep at room temperature for 24 hours. Strain through a fine meshed sieve, discarding the solids and reserving the infused oil. For the longest shelf life, store in a sterilized jar under refrigeration for up to three weeks, bringing completely to room temperature before each use.
Herb-Infused Olive Oil
To make this infused oil, I blend fresh herbs and olive oil and then simmer in a sealed plastic bag to extract maximum flavor. Because Jordan Estate Extra Virgin Olive Oil has a peppery kick, I recommend using a blend of avocado and olive oil so that the pepper doesn’t overpower the fine herbs. Experiment with a medley of herbs to find your preference. Drizzle this oil over roasted chicken just before serving with a bottle of Jordan Chardonnay. More subtle herbs, such as parsley, basil and chives, complement elegant white wines, while rosemary and thyme are known for highlighting the earthy notes in Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon.
2 cups herbs (Italian parsley, chervil, thyme, chives, tarragon or basil)
1 cup Jordan Estate Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 cup avocado oil or other mild cold-pressed oil
Bring a pot of water to a simmer. In a blender, process all ingredients together until smooth. Scrape the puree into a freezer-sized Ziploc bag. Remove all air from the bag and seal. Remove the pot from the heat and drop the bag into the water. Submerge if necessary. Allow the oil to steep for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare an ice bath in a separate bowl. Remove the bag from the pot and shock in the ice bath. Strain the puree through a fine meshed sieve. Discard the solids and reserve the herb oil under refrigeration for a longer shelf life. Use within one month.