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RECIPE | Make crispy polenta fries from inspirational air fryer cookbook

A new cookbook for enthusiasts of this handy appliance

21 July 2022 - 08:50
The new airfryer cookbook carries a promise of 101 tried and tested recipes.
The new airfryer cookbook carries a promise of 101 tried and tested recipes.
Image: 123RF/escapejaaj

Who’d believe a tabletop appliance could cause such a global stir, in fact a cooking revolution. The air fryer has done just that and sales of the appliance just keep breaking records. There are many different brands — and prices — to choose from. My only advice would be to invest in an air fryer big enough to suit your family. My benchmark is it must be big enough to roast a whole chicken.

I was one of those that scoffed at the idea of yet another appliance in my kitchen until all the rave reviews piqued my interest and my curiosity got the better of me. I just had to know what all the fuss was about.

Now that I own one, I’m not sure how I ever lived without it! Apart from being able to replicate the yumminess of crispy fried food with a fraction of the fat of conventional fried food I enjoy the convenience of it. It’s quick, easy to clean and I can whip up a meal in record speed.

The obvious successes in the air fryer include well known items like chips, chicken wings, BBQ chicken and my fav is pork belly with the crispiest crackling ever, I’m always on the hunt for new inspiration. I recently spotted a brand new locally published magazine, Air-Fryer, featuring a hefty recipe collection from SA food writer/stylist Herman Lensing on the supermarket shelves — and then a new air fryer cookbook landed on my desk.

Air fryer cookbook cover.
Air fryer cookbook cover.
Image: Clare Winfield

The Air-Fryer Cookbook by Jenny Tschiesche carries a promise of 101 tried and tested recipes. It kicks off with some good advice for a novice and then a section on basic recipes.

I learnt that I can cook a perfectly soft boiled egg in the air fryer — with no washing up required. Tschiesche's  method is to preheat the air fryer to 180° and for four eggs it takes just six minutes. Voila, that’s breakfast tomorrow morning — and then there’s toast as well, at the same temperature, 180° C. Toast the bread for a minute on each side.

Beyond the basic information the cookbook is divided into fries and snacks, meat, poultry, a good selection of ideas for fish and seafood plus a wholesome collection of vegetarian and vegan ideas.

The sweet things chapter includes a variety of fruit dishes — some easy baking ideas. Through both this cookbook and the Air-Fryer magazine I've discovered that by using a baking dish or cake pan that fits into the air fryer you can make up dishes like stews and baked side dishes and whip up a cake, muffins or biscuits.  

The air fryer produces great chips with this easy recipe from the cookbook using polenta/mealie meal.

POLENTA FRIES

Serves: 6

A cornmeal/mealie meal alternative to potato fries.

800ml (3 ½) cups  water

1 ½ vegetable stock cubes

3ml (¾ tsp) dried oregano

Freshly ground black pepper

200g  (1 ⅓ cups) quick cooking polenta or quick cooking mealie meal

10ml (2 tsp) olive or vegetable oil

90ml (6 tbsp) cake wheat flour or use gluten free flour

Garlic mayonnaise to serve (or sauce of choice)

Method:

  1. Bring the water and stock cubes to the boil in a saucepan with the oregano and black pepper. Stir in the polenta/mealie meal and continue to stir until the mixture becomes significantly more solid and is hard to stir — this should take about 5—6 minutes.
  2. Grease a 15 x 15cm  baking pan with some of the oil. Tip the mixture into the baking pan, smoothing down with the back of a wet spoon. Leave to cool at room temperature for about 30 minutes, then pop into the fridge for at least an hour.
  3. Remove the polenta from the fridge and carefully tip out onto a chopping board. Slice the polenta into fingers 7.5 x 1 x 2cm.  Roll the polenta fingers in the flour, then spray or drizzle the remaining olive oil over the fingers.
  4. Preheat the air fryer to 200ºC. Lay the fingers apart from one another in a single layer in the preheated air fryer (you may need to cook these in batches, depending on the size of your air fryer). Air-fry for 9 minutes, turning once halfway through cooking. Serve immediately with garlic mayonnaise.

• Air-Fryer Cookbook, by Jenny Tschiesche, is published by Penguin Random House and retails for R320.

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