Food & Drink

Air Fryer cookbook provides healthier alternative

By Joan Leotta

For The Sun News

So, you like fried food but the guilt eats at you? (Pun intended!) This is a book promising that with an air fryer, you can enjoy that wonderful crunch and flavor without the guilt. Air frying relies on a small appliance of that same name. The air fryer cooks with superheated hot air and can be used to astonish your family with an array of edible delights that range from appetizers to desserts.

The book is written in a clear, straightforward way that explains the method, what you will need to keep in stock in your pantry and what to look for when buying an air fryer. She also provides"best practices" and guidelines for using one of the successfully. Air fryers provide not only the crunch and good taste but also that attractive brown crust—all with as much as 80 percent less fat, according to the author.

Saulsbury is a name to trust in cookbooks. I have reviewed and used many of her 20 that are in print. She is a freelance recipe developer, coking instructor and had her own healthy cooking blog, powerhungry.com. She has been featured on Today, Good Morning America, the Food Network and in the New York Times.

All of that said, a good air fryer can cost as much as two hundred dollars. A lot of money for a single kitchen gadget unless you will use it often. In addition, most air fryers hold only a small amount of food at one time. I looked at least five different models online and hit all of the comparison buttons. However, since I did not buy and try one, I do not want to mention any particular brands. This makes them a perfect fun gadget for small families, but can mean extra cooking "shifts" if you need a large number of servings. Furthermore, when reading carefully, I wondered what the differences was between cooking with circulated superheated hot air in an air fryer and doing the same in a convection oven. Therefore, I contacted Saulsbury and asked a few questions about that same topic. I've reproduced the interview below so you can make your own judgments about the desirability of investing in an air fryer. Let me say, if you do, you definitely should buy this book! If you want to try fiddling with your convection oven to achieve similar results, her recipes and the information in this book would also be a valuable investment in yummy possibilities and your family's health.

Judge for yourselves. Here is my interview with the author, Camilla Saulsbury.

Joan: I live in the southern USA where frying is a way of life, why should my readers switch to air frying? I know it is healthier, but are there other reasons?

Camilla: I live in the South, too (Texas), so I understand re frying being a way of life. It’s true, air frying is healthier--significantly less fat and calories, but yes, there are other benefits. First, air fryers are very quick and easy to use. They heat up in about 5 minutes and are almost as easy to use as a microwave. Additionally, there is no messy clean up (the parts can typically be washed in a dishwasher), there is no lingering fried oil smell, and there are no worries about the dangers of hot oil, either (older children can use them with parents’ supervision). You can use the air fryer to do more than fry, too. It is essentially a mini convection oven, which allows you to roast, grill and bake foods, too.

Joan: I get that the texture will be somewhat the same, but what about the flavor—does than one or two tablespoon of grease really flavors the entire amount of food being cooked?

Camilla: Yes, you can get fantastic flavors with the air fryer. Just like traditional deep oil frying, it comes down to the recipe, too: so long as you are seasoning your food, you can achieve fantastic flavors with crispy, sizzling textures.

Joan: Have you compared flavors in traditional fry and air fry

Camilla: Yes, and they have been tasted tested by many Southern friends and family. Many people prefer the air fried French fries over traditional oil fried foods, in particular. You cannot do every deep fried recipe in the air fryer (hence the reason for the book), but I have developed recipes for all of the classics.

Joan: And air fry versus baked?

Camilla: Since it(the air fryer) is a small convection oven, the results are great. It is especially nice in the summer: you can make small batches of muffins and cakes and cookies without turning on the traditional oven and making the house hotter. The convection heat renders very evenly baked foods.

Joan: Versus baked in a convection oven?

Camilla: The same!

Joan: My understanding is that the method in the air fryer is similar to a convection oven. What makes the air fryer different from simply baking in a convection oven?

Camilla: It is really the same when it comes to baking, but you have the advantages of using less energy, super-easy clean up, small-batch baking, and fast preheating. Perfect for impromptu treats, breakfast baked goods, and more.

Joan: If we want to avoid another gadget in the kitchen, can we adapt these very tasty recipes to a convection oven?

Camilla: With some experimentation, you could. However, keep in mind that for the air- frying aspect, the convection oven is not exactly the same. The size and shape of the air fryer, plus the design of the fans (it is like a convection oven on steroids) will change the timing and end results to some degree.

Joan: Which air fryer do you endorse or don’t you endorse any special one?

Camilla: I used several different air fryers for my testing, and they all worked well. Different brands have varying degrees of bells and whistles, but even the most basic models work very well, so you can choose what suits your budget and sensibilities.

Joan: Thank you, Camilla!

In addition to providing an interview, Saulsbury and her publisher, Robert Rose, gave us permission to reprint one of the recipes from the book This recipe is for an air fryer and has not been adapted for use in an oven.

Buttermilk Fried Chicken for the Air Fryer

Reprinted with permission from 175 Best Air Fryer Recipes by Camilla V. Saulsbury and Robert Rose Press.

Note from Camilla Saulsbury: this lighter, simpler version of friend chicken, the thighs are marinated in a spicy seasoned buttermilk before being tossed in a flavorful coating, a spritz of cooking spray is all it takes to deliver a crispy , crunchy, "fried" texture.

Ingredients

2 chicken drumsticks

2 small chicken thighs

2/3 cup buttermilk

Salt and pepper to taste

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

2/3 cup all-purpose flour

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp baking powder

Non-stick cooking spray

Method

In a large sealable, plastic bag, combine drumsticks, thighs, buttermilk, salt, pepper and cayenne. About ¼ tsp of the salt and pepper. Press out most of the air in the bag, seal and gently squeeze bag to combine ingredients. Refrigerate for at least twenty minutes or up to 12 hours.

Preheat the air fryer to 380 degrees F

In another large, sealable plastic bag, combine flour, garlic powder, paprika, baking powder ¼ teaspoon of salt and ¾ teaspoon of black pepper.

Remove two chicken pieces from the buttermilk bag and place in bag with flour mixture. Seal and shake well until pieces are coated completely. Place in the air fryer basket. Repeat coating procedure with the other two pieces, place in air fryer, spacing the chicken pieces evenly in a single layer in the fryer basket. Discard excess buttermilk and flour mixes, Spray the chicken with a cooking spray.

Air fry for twenty minutes. Open basket and using tongs or a spatula, carefully turn chicken over.

Spray with cooking spray, Air fry for 8-12 minutes or until coating is golden brown and an instant read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of a drumstick registers 165 degrees F.

Serve immediately.

At A Glance

Title | 175 Best Air Fryer Recipes

Author | Camilla V. Salisbury

Publisher | Robert Rose Press

Price | $24.95

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