We all want to eat healthier, right? But fried foods are just so damned delicious! No one wants to give them up entirely. But what can we do? Technology to the rescue! I'm a night owl, so I'm frequently subjected to infomercials. While under the fog of decision fatigue, hour-long commercials ply their wares to unsuspecting insomniacs across the country. "Look at how fantastic and perfect and easy it all is! Check out this versatility! Recipes! Payment plans! Money back guarantee!"
Damn it. They got me. Sort of. I didn't buy the one from the infomercial. I was sure I could find one much cheaper online. And I did. I got some no-name-brand from a discount website because there's no way I was going to spend almost $200 on something I'm not sure I'll use much. I mean, it's not like I own a deep-fryer or anything. We really don't eat fried foods very often. But I'd sure like to, hence this hopeful purchase.
I decided to not get the fully enclosed plastic monster. After reading lots of reviews, it seemed like a lot of people had issues with their kitchens reeking of burning plastic. A few unlucky people even had their plastic monsters melt! Uh, yeah...no thanks. I'm not big on using plastic to begin with, so cooking inside of it using temps over 400 degrees is something I'm gonna have to pass on.
I opted for an air fryer that's mostly glass. It has a massive glass bowl, several racks that go inside, an extender ring to increase the cooking capacity, and a lid that contains all of the controls. The dial is all screwy and doesn't have the temps demarcated very well, but at least my food isn't roasting inside of a shell of poison.
First things I tried to cook were some fries. They turned out pretty good, but as this was several months ago, I forgot to take pictures. I did, however, end up with a headache. Meh. It happens, sometimes without reason.
After a few trial-runs of cooking sides in my oil-less fryer, I got a little braver and attempted some main dishes. I cooked a whole organic chicken and I made some steaks. Of course, they were all from Butcher Box. The chicken took way too long. It was still bloody in the middle while the crispy, burnt skin was peeling off and sticking to the rack. On the plus side, it melted a ton of fat off of my bird. If I did it again, I'd make sure to baste more often. Really, though, only the skin was a loss. The inside was tender and juicy, all the way through.
The steaks actually turned out pretty well. I was impressed with how juicy they were. They lost very little moisture in the air-fryer, but a lot of fat melted off of them. I let them marinate in some Worcestershire sauce, sprinkled them with tarragon and rosemary, then fried them. Again, I got a freaking headache. It finally occurred to me that this damned fryer might be behind it.
Every time I cook with my air-fryer, I get a horrible headache. It can be eased or somewhat prevented by not being exposed to the light it emits. It also burns my face, so I'm pretty sure the reaction to the light of developing a headache is legit.
My kitchen is really small and my counter space is pretty limited. Given how much I cook, I have a large assortment of small appliances. Some get put away when not in use, but larger items like my food processor, Kitchenaide stand mixer, crockpot, juicer, and air-fryer have permanent homes on the counter. Mostly because they're either heavy or won't fit inside any of the cabinets, or both. My air-fryer sits to the right of my single-compartment sink. I usually do my chopping to the left of the sink, with the stove behind me. After using my air-fryer and standing beside it for about half an hour, I felt physically ill and the right side of my face felt hot. The next day, I was certain I had a "sunburn" from standing next to that glaring, bright light.
But like Maynard said, "Don't be the problem, be the solution." I knew it didn't have to hurt me. It didn't have to be a waste of money and counter space. I am many things, and clever just so happens to be one of them. I decided that the reason that some air-fryers are enclosed and don't emit this light is probably because of the very reactions that I have to it. Some people just can't handle that shit. I'm one of them, but then, I've known for a long time that I'm sensitive to sun exposure. It's my daddy's Irish blood, I guess.
My solution was to prop up a sheet pan to block the bulk of the light. I also avoid being in the kitchen as much as possible when it is running. I plan on buying one or two of those metal splatter guards to put around it. You see, despite my headaches and burns from it, I like the food that's cooked in it. I've made onion rings, Brussels sprouts, and lots of different kinds of fries. If it wasn't for the high salt content, I'd be making fried pickles every week! I will continue to use and love my air-fryer. But, much like a crazy relative, I just don't want to be in the same room with it.
That's it for this week. Come back next week for something a little different. I'm going to talk about a restaurant, my goofiness, and a bit of Easter silliness. But until then, have you ever tried an air-fryer? How did it go for you?
Edit: After posting this, I was told I've been using the wrong terminology. I did not buy an air fryer. I bought a halogen oven that is capable of air-frying, but only small batches that are close to the lamp. I was grossly misled by the fact that none of the papers or booklets that came with it call it an oven. Everything calls it an "oil-less fryer." So, before you start typing an angry comment or email, scolding me and correcting me, know that someone else has already beat you to it. Only, she wasn't a jerk about it. But you were going to be, weren't you? Well, fuck you. I'm not changing this blog other than adding this note just to piss you off. Why? Because I'm feeling onry today. Maybe I'll change it someday or maybe I'll just keep it up as a testament to a need for research.