It’s not often that I do this, but the people at Tefal recently sent me an Actifry unit to test drive and I thought I would write about my experiences here.
Chips are not something that I eat too often these days as I have to watch the waist band but they are a product for which I have much affection. The perfect chips are few and far between and in my opinion a good chip is fried twice, once with the fat at a low temperature and the second time at a higher temperature to brown the outside. Consideration also needs to be given to the type of potato used and also the fat that it is cooked in. Jeffrey Steingarten gives a wonderful account of his search for the perfect chip in ‘The Man who Ate Everything’ and from memory, thought that the use of horse fat was best.
Well, my test was to see if the chips produced in the Tefal Actifry were as good as the deep fried variety. Oven cooked chips truthfully purport to be lower in fat that those that are fried, however from a taste perspective, I have always found them wanting. It was with eagerness that I accepted the challenge of making ‘Acti-fries’, up to 1kg of potato chips that are ‘fried’ using only 1 tablespoon of oil.
I followed the instructions carefully, firstly peeling my potato and cutting it using a mandolin slicer to ensure that they were of uniform thickness.
The chips were then washed in ice water to eliminate excess starch and and then dried to ensure that they would fry properly in the unit.
They were finally placed in the unit and the measuring spoon of vegetable oil was added as per the instructions.
The unit was then switched on and the timer set for 40 minutes.
Here are the results!
The chips were perfectly adequate. Admittedly they were not as good as a perfect deep fried chip but they were honestly a far cry from the muck that is generally baked in an oven especially those mass produced ovenable chips. I have to say however that I did try the same amount of chips with 2 tablespoons of oil and the result was better from a taste perspective although the results were perfectly adequate with the one tablespoon as suggested. My next experiment would be to cook the chips with duck or goose fat instead of oil. However, you can see from the pictures that they were a lovely brown colour and they taste as good as they look.
This kitchen gadget does exactly what is says and does it well. The Tefal Actifry makes great chips using a small amount of oil and from a health perspective, this can only be a good thing.
I think another great point about the machine is that it allows ‘deep frying’ without such huge amounts of very hot fat which from what I can see potentially makes it safer too which means you can involve children into the cooking process and also makes the cooking process easier from a cleaning perspective too. The useable parts of the unit also come apart simply and can be washed with ease which is another good point
I did like the fact that the unit also came with a comprehensive book with a variety of recipes demonstrating that this machine is not just for making chips. I thought that this was most helpful.
The ActiFry has a RRP: $349.95 from leading department stores and electrical specialists Australia-wide. The price is probably the one drawback of unit. It does everything it says on the box and works well. Having only had it a short time, I cannot speak for its longevity but the construction seems sturdy enough.
How it works: Patented Cooking System
Here’s a basic explanation of how the product works…as explained by the good people at Tefal. The Actifry uses a mixing arm and air distribution system. Air is pumped into the machine in order to optimise how the oil is distributed and covers the food (in this case, chips). The appliance is also designed in a way that ensures that the temperature is kept very constant throughout the cooking process – so the food cooks quicker and more effectively, without the need for much cooking oil.
· ActiFry uses a unique patented technology, which enables the hot air to flow and then circulates inside the unit.
· The central paddle ensures that the oil is uniformly spread and that food is cooked evenly.
· ActiFry comes with a dosing spoon, which measures the correct amount of oil that is required.
· Cooking time takes 40 minutes depending on the recipe selected.
The Tefal Actifry makes great tasting chips using a small amount of oil in a manner that is safe and simple but that is not all it does. I enjoyed using the machine and look forward to finding what else can be done with it. I will be interested to see how it would handle products like schnitzels and other crumbed items and I’m guessing that it couldn’t replace your deep fat frier if you are into making doughnuts or other batter based fried foods.
Overall, for stuff that is shallow fried or ‘solid products’ like chips etc, the Tefal actifry can replace your current cooking process with one that uses less oil and produces a better product than that produced in the oven. However, it can’t replace ALL of your deep frying needs. The machine also makes many frying projects safer and less of a hassle as you dont have to worry about spitting oil and the disposal of large amounts of cooking fat when finished. In summary, I liked the machine and would like to thank the people at Tefal for bringing it to my attention.