At a time when there are more culinary stimuli than ever before and food awareness is such a central topic, not only with specialists but also, and above all, with consumers, it is increasingly useful to collect opinions and advice from industry experts.
So here are some tips on top-quality oil straight from Gabriele Bonci, the ‘bread and pizza king’, a permanent host on the Rai1 TV channel programme La Prova del Cuoco [The Cook’s Test].
We meet one of the most famous pizza chefs in Rome, an institution in the world of flour and pastry, a master at combining traditional flavours with highly innovative, experimental techniques, which satisfy the most diverse tastes.
Who better to give us a vademecum on olive oil and its many uses in the kitchen?
As far as possible choose your oil according to the dish, understand the ingredients you are going to use and maintain the right balance between an avant garde spirit and respect for the gastronomic DNA of a region. These are just some secrets from Chef Bonci, who lives and promotes his work like a genuine mission: informing people about the beauty of nature and its fruits and contributing to the formation of a common consciousness, in continuous search of quality and rigorous production processes.
- Are there any special secrets to getting the most benefit from top-quality olive oil in the kitchen?
To get the most from an olive oil it is very important to choose one that best suits the dish you want to cook. For example, if we combine a raw fish dish with a delicate olive oil, we will enhance both the dish and the oil itself.
- What is the best way to avoid concealing or overpowering the flavour of olive oil?
Always choose a good oil, pay close attention to the label and find the right balance between the oil and the other ingredients in the dish.
- Olive oil can play a very important role in preparing bread and rolls. What effect does it have therefore in relation to aroma, softness, intensity, consistency?
The addition of oil – obviously always a top-quality olive oil – when making bread and rolls, is crucial: the final product is enriched with more complex scents, the dough is soft and fragrant as a result.
- The right temperature for baking bread prevents the oil burning and thus avoids the bitter note that can be sensed if cooking times are too long.
There are many variables that affect the right baking temperature: the type of oven, the dough, and the degree of humidity, so I don’t think there is an ideal temperature.
- Olive oil and pastries. What are the winning combinations and the most unusual but effective matches? Are olive oil and chocolate a good combination?
A new combination can be discovered every day that is both winning and unusual at the same time: it is important to understand your ingredients, that is the only way to combine them to their best. As for the combination of olive oil and chocolate, I think it is highly effective.
- How important are raw materials in the kitchen? Does a top-quality oil that may cost more than an uncertified product add that something special to a dish or is its presence undetectable?
Store-cupboard ingredients are fundamental in the kitchen and a high quality olive oil will definitely improve the flavour of a dish.
- Frying or sautéeing in top-quality oil. What are the benefits in terms of health, wellbeing and taste? Fried food will be more aromatic, crispy and even digestible, is that right?
In this case, one must also keep in mind some fundamental factors. First, the smoke point, which must never be exceeded when frying, and since it is unique to each type of oil we need to really understand the particular oil we are using in order to obtain the characteristic crispness, digestibility and aroma.
- Can a drop of the wrong oil frustrate our efforts to create a certain dish?
Each dish needs a particular oil and if you get it wrong you risk ruining everything.
- Classic panini caserecci rolls with olives; a healthy recipe, suitable for all occasions. Tips for how to choose the right olives?
Choose a product that is totally natural, with no added preservatives, that hasn’t been “enhanced”, or undergone any other detrimental processing. Above all, if possible, always taste before choosing.
- Olive oil and pizza are the symbols of our gastronomic heritage and must be protected and valued. What is your position on this and what can we do in our own small way to help?
We need to start talking more about production processes and raw materials: this is the only way the consumer will know how to make an informed, conscious choice.
- Tradition and a return to origins or innovative and avant-garde: which would you choose, if forced?
Creating a tradition, means starting with an innovation, so I think the two aspects are inextricably linked: without the vanguard there can be no tradition.