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Jan 6, 2014 07:35 PM


Why do all the cooks on TV cooking programs use olive oil for sauteing?
They pour it exclusively when starting a meal in a stove top pan?

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  1. To sauté food you need a fat. Olive oil happens to be a healthier choice than others at the temperature needed for sautéing. At higher temperatures (deep frying for example) the cost of that much olive oil plus the loss of flavor/possible health risks of bringing the oil temp past 400 (deg F) is not worth it. A higher smoke point oil should be used then, and for the quantity needed to deep fry, a cheaper oil as well.

    You could use butter in most places where EVOO is used, but your waist and arteries would feel the toll after a while. It is also not very vegetarian/vegan friendly. You could also use corn oil, or grapeseed oil if those are more affordable. Pay attention to what the end product is though. For example, if I am sautéing onions and garlic as the base for a tomato sauce (like for pasta) that will be simmered for hours, the type of oil I use is negligible because by the end you won't taste it. If I am sautéing garlic and shrimp for 3 minutes to be served over pasta or a crostini, I will taste the oil and using a good EVOO that has a taste is very important. A bland corn oil would not be positive. In another scenario, for things like vinaigrettes, I prefer a neutral oil like corn oil because the olive oil can have too much of its own flavor and that can fight with the flavor profile of what I'm making.

    I left margarine out on purpose. The water content in margarine will often mess up a sauté, it is far better to use a vegetable oil to sauté than a hydrogenated fat like substance made from vegetable oil.

    Another reason is that many TV cooks are preparing Western European based foods, which have flavor profiles that are accented by olive oils - Spanish, French, Italian and Greek influenced foods. I would be hard pressed to use olive oils to prepare Japanese, Chinese or Indian food.

    12 Replies
    1. re: ncghettogourmet

      A few clarifications to your post. Olive oil actually has a few more calories per tablespoon than butter, so this isn't really about waistlines. Butter is not a problem for vegetarians, but vegans don't include it in their diets.

      1. re: smtucker

        And, as an additional clarification to the OP, margarine is terrible for your arteries, butter isn't.

        1. re: carolinadawg

          That's a controversial statement.

          The link between saturated fat and atherosclerosis isn't completely clear, but most people would say that butter isn't good for your arteries.

          1. re: calumin

            Most people should read some articles :)

            1. re: fldhkybnva

              Actually, most people should read articles from a wide variety of sources, including from a broad spectrum of the medical community. If they did that, they would reach the conclusion that butter consumption is not good for your arteries.

              That's not to say you shouldn't eat it, but the idea that butter consumption is not correlated to atherosclerosis is not well-supported by facts.

              1. re: calumin

                Here's an interesting article to read.


                Its about the scientist, Fred Kummerow, who first proposed the link between transfats and heart disease.

                According to the article his conclusion is -
                "that the saturated fat in butter, cheese and meats does not contribute to the clogging of arteries — and in fact is beneficial in moderate amounts in the context of a healthy diet (lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and other fresh, unprocessed foods)"

                So based on the guy who came up with the theory, butter consumption is not correlated with heart disease. It is in fact good for you.

                1. re: Bkeats

                  <in fact is beneficial in moderate amounts>

                  Everything in moderation is not bad, but the keyword is moderation. Some people believe in eating 2 pound of meat everyday is moderation. Other eat less than 2 pound of meat in a week. What is "moderation"?

                  Some people drink 4 cups of coffee a day, and some drink none in a month.

              2. re: calumin

                <The link between saturated fat and atherosclerosis isn't completely clear>

                There are a lot of things we know better now, but there are a lot of things which we are trying to better understanding.

                We often revise our knowledge over time and some time going back re-revise.

                Butter probably is not as bad as we once thought, but then it is not as innocent as some people think -- some people believe all fats have positive effec as long as they are naturally made (like butter and lard).

                There are also people who believe all sweeteners are good as long as they are not artificial -- which is why some people only worry about HFCS.

          2. re: ncghettogourmet

            Thanks so much for your great response and information I can use. I'll copy and paste it to my files.

            1. re: ncghettogourmet

              and one more clarification, clarified butter, aka ghee, is used in indian cooking and is also appropriate for higher temperature frying/sauteeing.

              1. re: ncghettogourmet

                thanks for the great info
                I'll remember your examples of the end product

              2. I'm not sure but I can't afford to use precious olive oil every time I brown something so I often use bacon fat or chicken fat that I reserve from cooking bacon or making stock.

                2 Replies
                1. re: iheartcooking

                  That's actually another reason you see TV cooks using EVOO or regular olive oil. Not enough of them counsel their viewers to save their fats and very few suggest buying a tub of lard to have lying around.

                  1. re: nokitchen

                    so true, I now have 4 jars of fat in the fridge at all times - beef, duck, chicken, bacon

                2. I use EVOO for sautéing when the oil flavor really matters. When it doesn't, I use olive oil with a sordid past.

                  2 Replies
                    1. I think Extra Virgin Olive Oil is great as a finishing oil. I don't use it for sauting (high temperature) cooking though.

                      1. Yes, it seems to me the TV cooks tend to use EVOO. If I were using olive, it wouldn't be extra virgin. I like olive oil in dishes with the right flavor profile, like piccata or Marsala, but for most dishes I prefer a mixture of peanut oil and unsalted butter or, for heartier dishes or that home cooking flavor, bacon fat. I'll save my EVOO for salads, finishing applications, or sneaking hunks of baguette with oil. I am guessing they do this to telegraph to people who are new to cooking, "Hey, you need some fat in there, about this much!"