A Smart Air Fryer Helps This Not-So-Smart Cook
Air fryer manufacturers may be doing themselves a disservice by using the word “fry” in their product names — at least here in health-conscious Southern California, many people shy away from fried foods. Although the local doughnut places always seem to be packed…uh, from what I hear. So when I mentioned to various friends that I was trying a smart air fryer — the new Proscenic T21 — for my column, their instant reaction was why I’d want to deliberately fry food. Regardless, there is no frying involved. There is only the circulation of hot air inside the machine. That makes the food nice and crispy where it needs to be, and fully cooked. And it actually results in food that’s healthier, by letting any grease and oil drip away from whatever you’re cooking.
New to air fryers, I’m glad my first experience has been with this particular model. Everything is kind of cleanly spelled out — with eight cooking modes on the exterior panel that are designated by icons. For instance, there is a pizza logo if you want to reheat cold pizza. I used it for that purpose, but also to take frozen breakfast sandwiches and heat them up. I usually do that in the microwave, where they come out with a rubbery texture. And then I put it for a few minutes in the toaster oven, to firm things up. In the Proscenic, they just came out right the first time. On the fish setting, I added seasoning to two fresh salmon fillets, put them in the air fryer for 10 minutes, and they came out restaurant quality. Seriously, we’re picky about our salmon and this even beat my barbecue salmon as our new favorite. It was so good, we tried it again the next week with the same results. Plus I admit, I heated up frozen sweet potato fries — which came out light, airy and crispy to perfection. In the three weeks I’ve had the air fryer, I’ve probably used it a dozen times for various meals.
And I’ve actually never read the instruction manual, because the T21’s that easy to operate. You just put your food directly onto the inner basket that has holes on the bottom. That basket snaps into an exterior basket that’s slightly deeper than the first — allowing air to circulate underneath the food. Essentially the air fryer is a combination of a convection oven and toaster oven, in that it gets food cooked super fast. I can’t imagine it uses as much electricity as a wall oven because it’s way smaller and cooks much faster.
The Proscenic comes with a cookbook, too, although there is no shortage of air fryer recipes online. Just do a search on YouTube and you will uncover more videos than you’ll ever be able to watch. Cleanup is incredibly easy: You just wipe or wash down both baskets. If it takes more than 30 seconds, you’re doing it wrong.
Plus you can connect it to your Wifi and a smartphone app. Then you can use the app, Alexa or Google Assistant voice commands to control the fryer, schedule cooking, adjust and monitor the cooking process, and customize recipes. The entire machine weighs 15 pounds. Our biggest issue has been where to store it, as it’s just taller than the shelves in our cabinets. But honestly we’ve been using it so often that I think the countertop is the perfect spot for it.