Air-Fryer, Today’s Hottest Kitchen Toy

Americans love their gadgets. I remember when the Robot-Coupe, aka Cuisinart, was a hot young thing a generation ago. Since then it’s been the bread machine, the pasta machine, the immersion blender, the Crockpot, the pressure-cooker, the Insta-pot. And now it’s the air-fryer. Its appeal is grounded in the American love/hate relationship with fat (we love fried food, but we know we’re not supposed to eat it) and our simultaneous obsession with clean kitchens (to fry is to splatter.) This gadget produces the crunchy effect of fried food with a minimum of oil. Everyone except Colonel Sanders loves it.

It’s actually not a fryer at all, technically—it’s a high-powered convection oven that circulates super-hot air all around the food you’re cooking.

The thing can also toast, bake and clean your kitchen. Just kidding about the cleaning. We ended up just playing with ours, adjusting online recipes to what we had in the pantry. We started with chicken fingers, figured we wanted them spicy so quadrupled the black pepper and though the recipe suggested lemon wedges, we loved them dipped into Salsa Queen’s Creamy Jalapeño dip. On to green vegetables, in our case beans (red pepper flakes a must) and Brussels sprouts and finally, we slid to the bottom of the menu food chain and got a little crazy so I’m just telling you: Totinos Pizza Rolls are fantastic cooked in an air fryer. That led us to wonder about all kinds of things: Onion rings? Reheated pizza? Oreos?

Next time.


CHICKEN FINGERS:

Healthier than deep fat, with none of the mess.

  • 1 1⁄2 lbs. chicken tenders
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 tsp. water
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1⁄2 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 1 cup Panko or fine breadcrumbs
  • Olive oil (or other oil) spray
  • Lemon wedges, for serving

Heat the air fryer to 400.

Spray the rack with olive oil and line the tray underneath with aluminum foil.

Rinse the tenders and pat dry. Mix the breadcrumbs with salt and pepper. Beat the eggs with water.

Coat the chicken in the flour, then dip in the egg mixture, then cover with crumbs. Spray with olive oil or place the chicken pieces on the rack, evenly spaced and cook for 5-6 minutes. Turn pieces over and cook another 5-6 minutes, until golden.

GREEN BEANS: Not so much fried, as blistered. And delicious.

Preheat fryer to 400 and prepare rack and tray as above.

  • About 1 lb. green beans, stems removed
  • 1 Tbsp. oil
  • 1 clove garlic, mashed
  • 1⁄2 tsp. red pepper flakes

Mix the oil and garlic. Toss the beans in the oil until thoroughly coated. Place them on the rack and cook 6 minutes; shake the rack and cook 5-6 more minutes.

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Mary Brown Malouf
Mary Brown Malouf is the Executive Editor of Salt Lake magazine and Utah's expert on local food and dining. She does not, however, know how to make a decent cup of coffee.

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