Every time we cook, we’re always looking for simple ways to kick the flavor up a notch or two. Using the freshest ingredients, citrus zest, and a variety of herbs have always been our go-to methods to enhance the taste profiles of our food. Plus, we both love spice! A few dashes of red pepper–in its many forms–to turn up the heat does just the trick when it comes to heightening flavor. Lately, we’ve been into infusions. Almost all of our homemade cocktails and even some tasty treats have some kind of flavored simple syrup in them to add a little jazz. As you probably know already, making these infusions is super easy—as easy as making a cup of tea. So we thought, why not go the savory route and tweak the average olive oil? Let the experimentation begin.
For a breakdown of infusing oils check here. The site has interesting tidbits that may come in handy, and it shows that the process couldn’t be easier. If you picked up a container of whole, aromatic spices and never used them, here’s your chance to drop in pods of cardamom or little pink peppercorns. Walk through your garden and snap off a bunch of fresh, pungent rosemary, tarragon, lavender or hibiscus. The options are endless! You’ll get better results using a tasteless oil such as canola or grapeseed. If you use olive oil, choose one with the cleanest olive flavor as not to overpower the additional ingredients. Olive oil breaks down faster than other oils, especially if you are working with a hot infusion, so use it quickly. The recipe below is for a hot infusion, which produces immediate results and helps to protect you from any nasty bacteria that may breed in the oil, especially if you’re playing with garlic. Many food items that grow in the ground or contain moisture require extra precaution when infusing oils. Play it safe by keeping all infused oils in the fridge between uses to keep them as fresh as possible. And use them quickly–within one and a half to two weeks at the latest. If you make them in small batches, you’ll use them up before you know it. They will add pizazz to any marinade, salad dressing or savory dish.
1. Mix first 3 ingredients and 1 cup of oil into a food processor or blender, while slowly adding in the remainder oil.
2. Heat mixture in a large pot over medium-heat until oil begins to lightly bubble. Turn heat to low and let simmer for 3-5 minutes, being careful not to let the oil burn. Remove from heat and set aside and let cool completely.
3. Strain through cheese-cloth or a fine, wire strainer. Store in an airtight container with additional whole chiles for display. Refrigerate in between uses, and do discard after 2 weeks.
Click HERE for the printable recipe.