Air fryer hacks and grilling tips
for tastier, healthier and greener meals
The Sustainable Chef Gerard Viverito has tips
and recipes to improve your spring and summer cooking
You may have heard that fat equals flavor. It’s why we love a beautifully marbled steak, butter-rich shortbread, or premium ice cream. Fat is also what makes fried foods such as potato chips and chicken nuggets so deliciously crispy and addictive. Today, many people are swapping their deep fryers for air fryers.
This trendy appliance uses swirling super-heated air, instead of hot oil, to cook. But air fried food can also be dry. The Sustainable Chef and culinary instructor Gerard Viverito says the results can be as impressive as oil-fried dishes – and full of crave-worthy crunch – if you follow his tips. Bonus: some of these hacks can also be used on your outdoor grill.
Brush on oil for crave-worthy crunch
“The right air frying techniques will help protect your health and produce more flavorful meals,” says Chef G. For restaurant-quality results, he suggests brushing oil onto your food both before you cook and again half-way through the cooking process. You can also apply it using a spray bottle. “Canned cooking spray will damage the non-stick coating of your air fryer; it may include questionable additives.”
Use the right fats and cooking oils on your grill
Chef G. suggests you first get to know your cooking fats. “Using the wrong oil is why grilled foods sometimes taste so bad. The oil burns which make the food taste rancid,” he explains. “Some cooking oils are also not as healthful as others.”
- Choose vegetable oils carefully. Most canola, corn, soybean oils in the U.S. are made with genetically engineered crops. Many oils, such as corn, sunflower, soybean oil is pro-inflammatory.
- Be aware of which oil to use for high-heat cooking. “Olive oil is ideal for drizzling over veggies but begins to degrade at 380 degrees. I like to use Malaysian palm oil for high-temperature cooking because its smoke point, the temperature at which it starts to burn and smoke, is in excess of 450 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s also nutrient-dense and sustainably produced.”
- Use butter for rich flavor. Chef G. is a fan of grass-fed butter because it has more flavor and a stronger nutritional profile. The downside of butter is that it burns easily at high temperatures. “My trick is to put a little red palm oil in the pan with the butter to protect the flavor. Palm oil and butter go together. Palm oil is a nutritious fat for people and even animals. When cows eat palmitic acid, a component in palm oil, they produce more milk with higher fat content.”
Use sauces and marinades for big flavor
Chef G.’s chicken wing sauce uses bold ingredients such as gochujang Korean chili paste, ginger, and garlic. It also includes a sweetener that comes with a warning: “Sugar burns very quickly at high heat, so it’s important to add sugar-based sauces to your meat just in the last few minutes.”
He suggests including an oil in your marinade. “Oils are an essential part of a marinade. I like to use garlic, black pepper, and spices. These seasonings are fat-soluble, so you need an oil to carry their flavor into the meat.”
Visit this website for more palm oil recipes.
Malaysian Inspired Marinade
Recipes by Chef Gerard Viverito
Marinade for two pounds of meat
- 3 Tbsp Malaysian Red Palm Oil
- 2 stalks lemongrass, white parts only
- 3 slices fresh ginger
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled
- 6 shallots, peeled
- 2 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp coriander powder
- 1 tsp ground cumin powder
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1/2 Tbsp salt
- 2 Tbsp Palm Sugar
Blend all the marinade ingredients in a food processor. Add a little water to thin if needed.
Use this marinade for chicken or shrimp. It can be kept for 6 hours in the fridge or is best overnight.
Mardi Gras may have just come and gone, but there is no reason to deny yourself the taste of New Orleans any time you want it! As much as I try to maintain a low-carb life, these little bits of heaven are always a welcome treat and remind me of being in the French Quarter.
- ¾ cup lukewarm water (90 degrees)
- 2 teaspoons of sugar (for yeast proofing)
- 1 teaspoon of active dry yeast
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- ¼ cup of sugar
- 2 tablespoons of salted butter, brought to room temperature
- 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- ½ cup evaporated milk
- 1/2 cup of melted butter and Malaysian Palm Oil, equal parts
- 1 ½ cups of confectioners’ sugar
Combine the lukewarm water, 2 teaspoons of sugar and the yeast in a bowl and let proof for 5 minutes. This mixture should froth a little. If it doesn’t, your yeast is not active, and you should try again with a new yeast. Also mind the temperature. If it is too hot, you will kill the yeast.
Mix the flour, a pinch of salt, the room temperature butter and the sugar in a large bowl.
Add the egg, evaporated milk and yeast mixture to the bowl and mix with a wooden spoon until it just comes together in a sticky ball. If your dough isn’t forming, add a little more flour, but in really small quantities to avoid having tough beignets. Move the dough to an oiled bowl in a warm place and cover with a clean kitchen towel. Let rise until doubled, about 2 hours.
The longer you let it rise, the better for flavor development. By allowing the dough to rest in the refrigerator overnight, which is completely optional, you will develop a deeper flavor, but it is imperative that you bring it to room temperature before proceeding to the next steps.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to ½-inch thickness. Cut the dough into 24 2”x3” rectangular pieces.
Preheat your air fryer to 350ºF.
Brush or mist the beignets on both sides with some of the melted butter and palm oil mixture and air-fry in batches at 350ºF for 6 minutes, turning them over halfway through if desired.
Be mindful to leave some space between the beignets for better and more even browning.
Once the beignets are finished, transfer them to a plate or parchment lined baking sheet and dust with the confectioners’ sugar.
Enjoy with some nice chicory coffee!
Servings: 4 people
Here’s a fun fact about chefs: As much as we love outdoing each other in the kitchen, we always gravitate back to the simple dishes to soothe our souls after a grueling shift. Just Google favorite chef recipes and you will usually find sandwiches or a 3-step meal. Not to say I don’t love oysters, truffles, and foie gras, but sometimes you just want some down-home fried chicken comfort. With the rise in popularity of Korean-style fried chicken, I took it to a new level with the air fryer.
Traditionally, Korean Fried Chicken is double fried in oil for a spectacular crunch and then covered in a delicious spicy, sweet-and-sour type sauce.
- 2 lbs. chicken wings
- 1 cup cornstarch
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- ½ tsp salt
- Malaysian Palm Oil and butter to cover wings (approximately 1 Tablespoon each)
- 2 Tbsp gochujang Korean chili paste
- 3 tbsp agave syrup or honey depending on the level of sweetness desired
- 2 Tbsp brown sugar
- 1 Tbsp tamari gluten-free soy sauce
- 1 tsp ginger, minced
- 1 tsp garlic, minced
- 1 tsp shallot, minced
- ½ tsp salt
- Chopped green onions for garnish
Place the chicken wings in a large non-reactive bowl and season with garlic powder, onion powder and ½ tsp salt.
Cover the chicken with cornstarch, let sit for 5 minutes. With a set of tongs to keep your hands clean, stir, to evenly coat the chicken piece. Lightly shake each piece of chicken to remove the excess corn starch and place it in the air fryer basket.
While the wings are sitting, heat a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add oil and butter, heat gently to melt.
Place the wings in the air fryer basket and lightly spray or brush the tops with the oil and butter mixture.
Close the basket and cook chicken wings at 390 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes, turning and rotating chicken about every 10 minutes.
While the chicken is cooking, make the sauce.
Korean Air-Fried Chicken Sauce
Combine all sauce ingredients in a small, non-reactive saucepan over medium heat and whisk until combined. Bring the sauce to a boil and reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and reserve.
Once the chicken is done cooking, place the sauce and the wings into a bowl and toss to evenly coat.
*Oil may be used to spray and coat the chicken pieces if cornstarch still appears on the chicken after frying. It can be done without oil as the chicken will produce its own oil during cooking.