With the cost-of-living crisis having a huge impact on millions of people around the world, many are not only spending more wisely at the supermarket but also finding cheaper ways to prepare family meals.
One gadget that has become a kitchen must-have in the last five years is the air fryer as they have been found to be significantly more cost-effective in terms of energy use than a standard oven. Research by one UK company found that air fryers run at an average cost of around R1 200 a year, while an electric stove runs at around R6 800 per annum.
Another study found that while an oven with an average wattage of 3kW costs about R7 to run for 20 minutes, a 1kW air fryer would cost R2.
Further, a typical air fryer, which simulates deep frying by circulating hot air around the food, requires very little oil for cooking – less than a tablespoon if any at all – for the same results as deep frying. At current sunflower oil prices for a two-litre bottle, this will cost less than 50 cents in oil for the meal. The same dish that requires deep frying may use three cups of oil or around R30 per meal.
It’s no wonder then that the demand for air fryers have rocketed. Figures in the UK show that sales there have increased by 3 000 percent in the past 12 months while local retailers such as Checkers, Pick ‘n’ Pay and Game have all seen “a significant increase in the sale of air fryers in recent months.”
It’s the perfect opportunity to try out some air fryer recipes and who better to provide them than the chefs from Capsicum Culinary Studio, South Africa’s largest and best culinary school with six campuses around South Africa.
Buffalo Chicken Wings
1kg chicken wings, tips snipped off
3tbs unsalted butter
¼ cup Sriracha sauce (or similar hot sauce)
2 tbs white vinegar
Pat chicken wings dry with a paper towel and season with sea salt. Place half the wings in the air-fryer basket single layer (no stacking) and cook for 15 minutes at 200°C, turning over halfway through cooking, until skin has browned and chicken is cooked through. Remove, set aside and cook second batch of wings. When all the wings are done, combine in the air fryer and cook for 4 more minutes. Meanwhile in small saucepan, melt the butter then whisk in the sriracha and vinegar until well combined. Transfer hot cooked wings to a large bowl and pour over the sauce, tossing to coat evenly. Serve immediately.
Spaghetti & Meat Balls
450g beef mince
2 large eggs
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
4 large garlic cloves, minced
85g Parmesan, grated
½ cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Sea salt and ground black pepper
400g tinned tomatoes
1 red chilli, thinly sliced
1 tbsp olive oil
Fresh basil leaves, torn
In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, vinegar and ½ tsp each of salt and pepper. Stir in the breadcrumbs and let sit for a minute. Stir in the minced garlic and grated Parmesan, then the chopped parsley. Add mince and gently mix to combine. Shape meat mixture into 20 balls (about the size of a golf ball) and place in a single layer on the air fryer rack (do not stack). Cook (in batches if necessary) at 200°C for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, cook spaghetti in boiling salted water until al dente. In a bowl, add the tomatoes, chilli, garlic, oil and ¼ tsp each of salt and pepper. Pour over the meatballs and continue air-frying until meatballs are cooked through, about 5 to 6 minutes more. Toss the meatball/tomato mix with the pasta and serve topped with grated Parmesan and torn basil leaves.
Spicy Cauliflower Stir Fry (vegan)
1 cauliflower, cut into florets
1 small onion, thinly sliced
5 cloves garlic, mashed
1½ tbs soy sauce
1 tbs rice vinegar
½ tsp coconut sugar
1 tbs Sriracha or other favourite hot sauce
2 spring onions, diagonally sliced
Place cauliflower in the air fryer. If your air fryer is one that has holes in the bottom you’ll need to use an air fryer insert. Set the temp to 180°C degrees and cook cauliflower for 10 minutes. Open the air fryer and give the cauliflower a shake. Add the sliced onion, stir and cook for a further 10 more minutes. Add garlic, stir and cook for 5 minutes. Mix soy sauce, rice vinegar, coconut sugar, Sriracha, salt & pepper together in a small bowl. Add the mixture to cauliflower and stir to coat evenly and thoroughly. Cook for 5 more minutes then garnish with sliced spring onions and serve.
¾ cup plus 2 tbs of water
1 tbs caster sugar
pinch of salt
¾ cup flour
2 medium eggs
½ cup caster sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Place water, butter, tbs of sugar and salt in a medium-sized pot and stir until mixture boils. Reduce the heat and add the flour and mix rapidly using a wooden spatula. Continue stirring the mixture until the mixture thickens and does not stick to the sides of the pot. Transfer the mixture to a stand mixer bowl and mix using a paddle attachment for around 3-5 minutes. This will allow the churro dough to cool down before adding the eggs. Once the churro dough is a little bit cooler add the eggs one at a time while continuing to mix. The mixture should become a lot stickier. Transfer the churro mixture to a piping bag fitted with a star tip and on a parchment lined baking sheet pipe 8-10cm long churros. Cut the end using a pair of scissors. Place the baking sheet in the freezer for 30 minutes. Three minutes before you start baking, preheat the air fryer to 180°C. Gently remove the frozen churros from the parchment paper and place them into the air fryer basket and bake for 13-14 minutes. Place the churros in a single layer – do not stack – and cook in batches if necessary. In a shallow bowl combine the sugar and the cinnamon. Place the baked churros in the sugar mixture as soon as they come out of the air fryer, toss them in the cinnamon sugar mixture to coat them evenly. Serve with melted chocolate or Nutella!
(Tip: in- between baking batches, keep the uncooked churros in the freezer so they don’t get soft.)