Please allow me to introduce the newest member of the family,
Lolita, our air-fryer!
She arrived last week, after a lot exchanges between me and my niece Raquel in Brazil, who owns the exact same model and had been twisting my arm to get one. Then, my friend Karen joined forces with Raquel, even though they’ve never met. A virtual conspiracy of sorts. Karen brought her air-fryer to play and teased me with drool-inducing chicken wings. Take a look at them here. So, I went back and forth, back and forth, bought a cookbook to help me decide, lost hours of sleep tossing in bed. Turn to the left, I’m going to buy it. Turn to the right, do I really need it? Of course, Phil was close witness to my personal drama. It is possible that he got a bit tired of some of my evening monologues as I walked around the kitchen, cookbook in hand, reading some of the recipes out loud. Although, seriously, who could get annoyed by that? Right? Anyway, all I know is that one morning he informed me that a Philips air-fryer was on its way. Sorry, ladies, the husband is taken.
First experiment: Russet Potato Fries
This is really a non-recipe. Get Russet potatoes and cut them in slices, mine were around 1/2 inch, but quite variable. I wanted to see how the fryer behaved and optimize the size for the next time around. To a pot of salted boiling water, add the slices and parboil them for 4 minutes. Drain and dry. Once they are dry, place them in a bag or container and gently toss with a couple of teaspoons of olive oil, a sprinkle of salt (you will add more salt later once they come out of the fryer). Try to coat each slice with oil, but no need to go crazy with it. Some recipes recommend you shake them in a bag, I was afraid they would start breaking, so I just tossed them with my hands inside a bowl.
Add them to the fryer set at the highest temperature, which in my model is 390F. Set the timer for 25 minutes, place the potato slices in the basket, and fry away. Shake the basket every 5 minutes or so, and keep an eye on them. Depending on the thickness of the slices and the power of your machine, they can take a little more or a little less to get brown and cooked.
Remove the fries to a serving dish, season with more salt and pepper to taste, and ENJOY!
Comments: I was over the moon with these fries, because of course I was worried about my beloved’s investment. They were really good. One thing that becomes evident is how much oil we consume when enjoying “regular”, deep-fried potatoes. These have a nice crust, but the inside feels more like a boiled potato, creamy, no taste of fat. You know how when you grab fries your fingers get all oily, and your lips might end up a bit oily too? None of that happens here. Are they as good as regular fries? That is a tough question. In all honesty, when you have regular fries for some reason it is easy to over-indulge. These are satisfying but don’t make you compulsively inhale them. I made three Russet potatoes into fries, they were not very big, medium size. We had enough for our dinner and offered some to certain four-legged beings that were nearby. Happy tail wagging was observed. Experiment concluded.
Second experiment: Sweet Potato Chips
Or, if you happen to be in Great Britain, Sweep Potato Crisps. I confess I like that name even better…
For this adventure, I enlisted help of another interesting kitchen gadget, the spiralizer. I used the ribbon blade to cut two sweet potatoes. With regular veggies, you’ll end up with long ribbons, perfect to mimic pasta, think of a very large pappardelle. The sweet potato is hard, so the ribbons break and turn into pieces quite suitable for frying.
Of course, you can use your knife skills and cut them uniformly. After slicing, I decided to soak them in cold water. Some recipes skip that step, but it’s clear that doing it results in crisper chips, which was my ultimate goal. I did that on a Sunday afternoon, just placed them in the bowl of water and there they stayed for a few hours. You could do the step of soaking and drying several hours in advance, if pressed for time. Then it’s all a matter of adding the slices to a bowl, coating them with olive oil, seasoning with salt, or any other spices you’d like, smoked paprika, cumin, cayenne, chili. I set the temperature to 360F, which is what I saw recommended in the Phillips manual. They were ready in about 25 minutes, with shaking at several time points, as I could not stop opening the basket and peeking inside. The photo below gives a glimpse into their frying progression. Loads of fun.
From top to bottom, clockwise… The slices just ready to start air-frying, then after 5 minutes, 10 minutes and 15 minutes (ten minutes left on the timer). They were actually ready before the timer went off, for a total air-frying of 22 minutes. Not bad at all… If you get your prep work done in advance, sweet potato chips can be enjoyed pretty quickly. And yes, they were very crispy and delicious! The Philips model heats up very fast, they advise you to wait 2 to 3 minutes before placing the food inside. Experiment concluded. Scientists happy and well-fed.
I have quite a few recipes lined up for future experiments. If you have an air-fryer, I highly recommend this cookbook by Meredith Laurence. it is the one with the best reviews at amazon, and I can understand why. Very creative use of the fryer, with recipes that might surprise you a little. Like Molten Chocolate Almond Cakes… See? I told you!
ONE YEAR AGO: Cashew Cream Sauce
TWO YEARS AGO: Blood Orange Margaritas
THREE YEARS AGO: Smoked Salmon Appetizer
FOUR YEARS AGO: Clementine Cake
FIVE YEARS AGO: Springtime Spinach Risotto
SIX YEARS AGO: The end of green bean cruelty
SEVEN YEARS AGO: Torta di Limone e Mandorle