How To Become A Gran Catador

(or Olive Oil Connoisseur) plus
Poulet Fricassee in White Wine and Mushrooms

Let the salad-maker be a spendthrift for oil, a miser for vinegar, a statesman for salt, and a madman for mixing."

     —Spanish Proverb
The best cooks select an olive oil according to the type of food they are preparing, just as they select the proper wine.

Here are some definitions and guidelines which will help you develop your palate and fully enjoy the fine varieties of Spanish Olive Oil.

There are four common categories of olive oil defined as follows:

  • Virgin —pure "juice" of the olive; it is neither mixed nor refined—acidity content is below 1.5%
  • Extra Virgin—finest, highest quality olive oil—acidity contest does not exceed 1%
  • Olive Oil (formerly pure)—made from refined oil which is fortified with a variable percentage of fruity extra virgin oils
  • Extra Light—made from refined oil and also fortified with a variable percentage of fruity extra virgin oil; milder in taste and lighter in color than the pure style
  • Generally, Extra Light oil has the mildest flavor, while Extra Virgin is most flavorful.


A number of characteristics differentiate olive oils from one another:

  • Color—green-dark reflections, characteristic of fruity and tender-tart liquids, correspond to olives that have not reached maturity—glints of golden yellow correspond to sweet olives harvest late in the season
  • Taste—some oils have a distinctly fruity flavor, a hint of apples or aftertaste of almond—degree of sweetness or bitterness is also a differentiating variable
  • Viscosity—body of the oil, or as in wine tasting, its "legs"

Denominations of Origin

There are as many varieties of table oils in Spain as there are zones of production. Four of Spain's well-defined production zones in two regions are designated Denominations or Origin. The regions and unique character of the oils are outlined below:

Catalonia—region produces the highly regarded "arbequina" olive, designated in two Denominations or Origin:

  • Borjas Blancas
  • Siurana

Features smooth, sweet oils, not at all spicy, with an aftertaste of dried fruit and more than a hint of almond.

Andalusia—region primarily produces "picudo" and "picual" varieties of olive designated in two Denominations of Origin:

  • Baena
  • Sierra de Segura

Features noble oils, which a notable "olive taste" and fruity shadows.

Oils that carry the seal of Denomination of Origin are by definition, limited in quantity. These oils are the best of their kind, and are prized for their unique characteristics. Outside of the Denomination of Origin designation, there is an abundance of superior quality oils available from a variety of Spanish producers. These olive oils are blended to be smooth, reliable, balanced and valued for taste consistency.


Poulet Fricassee in White Wine and Mushrooms



  • 2 tablespoons Spanish Olive Oil
  • 1-3 pound chicken, cut into 10 serving pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper (6 turns of the pepper mill)
  • 1/2 pound small button mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 4 tablespoons finely chopped parsley leaves


Heat olive oil in a heavy skillet. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper. Put the chicken in the skillet in one layer and skin down. Cook, uncovered, until brown, about 10 minutes. Add the mushrooms.

Turn the chicken and cook for another 5 minutes.

Remove all fat from the skillet. With the chicken in the skillet, add the garlic and stir. Add the wine and stock. Bring to a boil. Add the lemon juice. Sprinkle the chicken with parsley. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. You want about 1/2 cup of liquid. If there is more than that in the pan, reduce it over high heat.

4 Servings


Provided by Aceite De Oliva De Espana (Spanish Olive Oil)

This page originally published as a FoodDay article in 1997.

Copyright © 2007, Forkmedia LLC. All rights reserved.

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This page modified March 2007

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