Throughout our cooking careers, many of us have been told again and again never to sauté or pan roast with extra virgin olive oil. Cost aside, the common reason has been that cold pressed olive oil simply never has a high enough smoke point.
But we've also seen many Italian chefs do just that-fry with extra virgin olive oil. Teatro Naturale
has posted an excellent article explaining how this is accomplished as well as sorting out some common misconceptions about extra virgin olive oil. Worth noting is that an oil's smoke point is not necessarily tied to the amount of stray particles suspended in it. Smoke point is also "an indicator of the breaking of the bond between the glycerol and fat acids (Katragadda et al. 2010). At high temperatures, the glycerol undergoes oxidation and turns into acrolein, which can form in other ways too, although the decomposition of glycerol is preponderant at high temperatures (> 230 °C)."
It's important to note that some extra virgin olive oils are still inappropriate for high temperature cooking, and those oils that are appropriate must be used carefully (you still need to pay close attention to the heat). But when used properly, there are EVOOs out there suitable for high heat cooking. For the full explanation & a whole lot of science speak, check out the article
on Teatro Naturale.