Product discovery, advice on how to use it and buying guide: We take a look at the air fryer, this new trendy appliance that is taking our kitchens by storm.
What is the air fryer?
The air fryer appeared about ten years ago and has transformed the way we cook. The first model of this appliance promised us crispy fries with only a spoonful of oil, a much healthier method of cooking than that offered by the classic fryer.
Then, the new generation of air fryers - with a perforated basket instead of a central rotating arm - entered the market and revealed an impressive versatility. They can now be used to prepare a very wide range of foods, far beyond potatoes!
However, the air fryer is not technically a fryer. It is the equivalent of a compact convection oven. The hot air propelled around the food will cook, roast and even "fry" it to a crispy texture.
Advantages and disadvantages
- The air fryer combines the speed of a microwave oven, the enhanced flavour of roasted foods and the crispy texture of fried foods, without the caloric intake of the latter.
- With the air fryer, recipes are easy, ready in a flash and delicious every time. However, while the air fryer saves time in the kitchen and produces perfectly crispy food, it does have one limitation: it has less capacity than a traditional oven. You can't cook as much food in it.
- The space available is determined by the size of the fryer basket because, except in exceptional cases, it is not possible to cook several layers of food at the same time.
Cooking large quantities
The basket capacity of small air fryers is limited. When preparing a meal for the whole family, it may be necessary to do several successive cookings. For example, some recipes indicate that the food should be cooked in two batches, and the total cooking time for both batches is given before the recipe. No unpleasant surprises during preparation!
While the second half of the dish is cooking, the first half is kept warm on a baking sheet in an oven preheated to 200°F (93°C).
If your air fryer is large enough to hold all the ingredients or if you have a metal rack that allows you to create a second layer in the basket, then only one batch may be needed. That's great, it will save even more time! Note that a second batch may take a few minutes less than the first, since the machine is already quite hot. So keep an eye on the cooking!
3 important points to keep in mind
1. All models of air fryers are different. There may be variations in cooking times to achieve the desired result. Be sure to check the contents of the basket a few times during the cooking process and correct the timer if necessary, especially when it is the first time you are making a recipe. Don't hesitate to make notes in the margin of the instructions for the next time you prepare the dish.
2. Moisture is the number one enemy of the appliance. That's why many recipes say to drain and even blot the food before cooking. The reason is simple: any residual moisture could turn to steam and soften the food rather than crisp it up. The sponging step, even if it takes a few minutes, is very important for optimal results.
3. Air must circulate in the basket. Hot air is the heart of air fryer cooking. Therefore, unless otherwise specified, do not overload the fryer basket, stack food or create layers.