I have never met a small kitchen appliance that I didn’t covet. This is why my garage looks like the Home Goods section of Target. Two Instant Pots, a Crock-Pot, an ice cream maker, a bread machine, a stand mixer, a Vitamix, a popcorn maker… I could keep listing them but would embarrass myself further.
But the one small appliance I refused to buy on principle? An air fryer.
“Why would I want an air fryer?” I told my husband. “I almost never fry foods.”
He didn’t say anything, because he’s wise like that. After 20 years of marriage he knows that at some point, I will succumb to my small-appliance addiction. I just can’t help myself. When I see something new and shiny on my friend’s kitchen counter, I want it.
That’s what happened last month when a friend posted a picture of a perfectly cooked chicken in their air fryer. The chicken was so golden brown and crispy on the outside that it looked like rotisserie chicken. “Wow,” I said. “I didn’t know air fryers could do that.” Boom! My credit card exploded.
“Go big, or go home,” I told my husband, when the box arrived a week later. “I needed to buy one big enough for a chicken.”
“If it wasn’t this, it would be something else,” he said, as he cut down the cardboard to recycle.
The first dish I made was Brussels sprouts. I sprayed them with olive oil, sprinkled them with salt and popped them in the basket for 20 minutes at 400 degrees. The way an air fryer works is that it circulates hot air like a connection oven, only in a smaller space. This causes a chemical change on the outside of food called the Maillard reaction, which makes it brown and crispy. The Brussels sprouts came out like delicious morsels of snack food. I was hooked.
Over the course of the next two weeks, I air fried everything I could think of: asparagus, potatoes, squash, zucchini, chicken nuggets, yams. I picked up “washed, trimmed and ready to cook” veggies at the store and dumped them in the basket. A little olive oil spray and salt, and they came out great. It was such an easy way to make vegetables that tasted good.
After mastering veggies, I figured I was ready to try the faux-rotisserie chicken. I bought a 4-pound bird, slathered it with olive oil, rubbed it was salt and seasoning, and put it breast-side down in the basket. An hour and 10 minutes later, it was absolutely perfect.
The only problem was, not everyone in the family was as enthusiastic about my new toy as I was.
“What are we having for dinner?” my son asked. “Let me guess, something from the air fryer?”
“I like raw carrots better, Mom,” said my daughter. “You know that.”
I reached for the cooking spray. “No complaints, or I’ll pop you in the basket, too,” I told them.
Talk about a buzzkill. There’s nothing worse than someone ruining your small-appliance high.
Jennifer Bardsley publishes books under her own name and the pseudonym Louise Cypress. Find her online on Instagram @jenniferbardsleyauthor, on Twitter @jennbardsley or on Facebook as Jennifer Bardsley Author. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.