Tuesday, June 22, 2021

How Do I Love Thee? Skinny Air Fryer vs. Traditional French Fries


How do I love thee?

Let's face it.  Having a post about French fries on the Skinny Gourmet Guy blog seems to be going off brand.  Aren't French fries the enemy?  But here are my thoughts: Everyone deserves a guilty pleasure every now and then.  And if you're going to take the plunge, why not try to mitigate the damage while still enjoying every tasty, crunchy, salty morsel. 

So, bearing in mind this is the occasional treat, let's look on the bright side.  By cooking the fries in your Air Fryer, you're cutting calories significantly.  A Googel search turned up this random stat:

French fries deep fried in oil are 340 calories per serving compared to 226 calories when cooked in the Air Fryer. 

But calories are only a part of the equation and most people view carbs as the enemy in French fries.  So, this is a healthier and lower fat way to cook that occasional treat.   

Let's Start at the Very Beginning!


Yukon Gold (above left) are my choice for regular French fries but require soaking; sweet potatoes/yams are tasty, too and don't require soaking in cold water 

I've used my time in isolation productively. I've spent hours honing my spud skills, considering such weighty issues as to soak or not to soak? White potatoes or sweet?  For traditional fries, I use Yukon Gold potatoes.  I slice them into fries, rinse them and then soak them in cold water for the day.  This is to draw out the starch in the potatoes.  This gives you a crispy fry.  I guess sweet potatoes and yams have less starch because I have tried soaking and not soaking and found no difference.  So if you want fries at the last minute go with the yams or sweet potatoes. White potatoes will be soggy and limp if you don't soak them for at least a few hours.  I start the process in the morning and let them soak in cold water for the entire day. You can even soak them over night.  I keep the bowl in the fridge. It's imperative that the water be very cold and stay that way.  

Cut in Half (I leave the skin on)

Cut in Quarters

Cut into Eights
Keep halving each spud until you get desired thickness (or skinniness!)

Soak in cold water all day in the fridge.  I add a teaspoon of salt to the water

Rinse in cold water and put in salad spinner

Dry on kitchen towels


First go in the air fryer (upper left); drying before final trip to air fryer (right). Fries after first go round in the air fryer; set aside in strainer; above left, fries after the second round in the air fryer. 

When you've finished soaking the fries you want to get them as dry as possible.  I put them in a salad spinner and give them a whirl a few times.  After that I dry them in a clean kitchen towel. If you don't have a salad spinner just try to dry them as best you can with kitchen towels. 

The second labor-intensive part is cooking the fries twice.  The first go round I spray with oil and dust with sea salt.  Make sure the fries have plenty of room - don't stack them.  You may have to cook in batches when you have a group over for dinner.  

I cook the French fries for 12 minutes at 350 degrees.  I transfer them to a steel mesh strainer and place a paper towel to absorb any moisture.  I usually cook the main course while the fries rest.  Then I cook for another 8 - 10 minutes at 380 degrees.  Each air fryer is different so keep an eye on the fries and shake the basket every 5 minutes or so.  

Dry on paper towels



  • One small to medium Yukon Gold or sweet potato per person
  • Scrub and slice into desired fry thickness
  • Place in large bowl and submerge in cold water with one teaspoon sea salt
  • Transfer to refrigerator; let sit for up to 8 hours or over night
  • If you're feeling industrious, dump fries into a colander, rinse and place in a new bowl of cold water
  • Sift fries through a strainer; spin in salad spinner and dry in a clean kitchen towel
  • Place in air fryer, spray with oil and lightly salt
  • Set air fryer temperature to 350 degrees
  • Cook for 12 minutes, shaking basket from time to time
  • Transfer to mesh strainer, cover with paper towels
  • Let stand for 15 minutes or longer 
  • Transfer fries back to air fryer, cook at 380 degrees for another 8 - 10 minutes
Please note: each air fryer brand is different; some require pre-heating and temperatures can vary.  Keep an eye on the fries - you may have to cook for shorter or longer periods of time. 

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Skinny Fish & Chips! Part I - The Fish

Light & crispy

Fish and chips were a Friday cafeteria lunch staple during my elementary and high school years.  Growing up on the South Shore of Boston in an obscure town called Scituate, and spending summers on Cape Cod, I remember roadside joints that served it with vinegar sprinkled on top and served on a few sheets of newspaper wrapped into a cone.  The fried fish sat atop a mound of French fries. Those were a step up from the cafeteria version.  I went to Catholic school and every Friday we had to have fish.   But both versions were always greasy and heavy.  There was a reason the take-out joint F&C were served on newspaper!  You'd want a nap after you finished.  Though they were Heavenly going down. 

All of these centuries later, I thought I'd give the dish my spin in the Air Fryer.  Warmer weather is coming and this dish epitomizes summer on Cape Cod. 

Not your Catholic school cafeteria Fish & Chips

For starters, I use cod as the fish.  Truth be told, I buy the frozen and thawed cod from Fairway which is usually $7.99 per pound.  I request the thickest slice they have.  My rule of thumb is a half pound of cod per person.  So, in these days of limited funds during Covid-19, this is an economical dinner - for me it's usually $4 for my single serving.  I cut the fillets into small pieces.  They fry better and there's more cod covered with the crispy mixture.

Cut your fish - I use cod - into slider-sized fillets (about 3"long x 2" wide each but it's up to you).  They fry up better when they're in smaller pieces and there's more areas of crunchiness. 

My rule of thumb is a half pound piece per person

Cut into small pieces

Let's start with the very basics of air frying - the Holy Trinity of air fryer prep consists of flour, egg white and panko.  This is dredging station is good for when you're looking to mimic that crispy, crunchy outer coating that you get when you deep fry.  You want to pat dry whatever you're frying.  It's important to get the fish as dry as possible.  I douse the filets with sea salt and wrap them in paper towels for as long as possible - a half hour is good.  Be sure to press the paper towels containing the filets and change the paper towels from time time.  I put my hand on them and gently push.  I use egg whites rather than regular eggs with the yokes to avoid the edges looking like scrambled eggs.  But if you're a fan of yolks, but all means use them.

The Holy Trinity of Air Frying

Next, dredge the fillets through the flour, egg white and panko until well covered.  I press the mixture onto the fillets and spray with canola oil (the choice of oil is up to you.  I wouldn't use EVOO as it burns quicker.  If times were flush I'd use avocado oil).  I'll spray, press and spray again to be sure the mixture sticks - you want as much as possible for ultra crunchiness.  I usually don't season the panko with anything but salt.  The extra flavor will come from the tarter sauce and a squeeze of lemon on the finished product. 

Dredge the fillets making sure they're all well covered
Press the mixture into the cod with your hands, use oil as needed

Place in air fryer - leaving room between each fillet

Spread the fillets out so they're not too crowded - they'll only steam.  Spray both sides liberally with oil.  Cook for 3 to 5 minutes on each side at 350 degrees. Just keep an eye on them and cook until they get that golden exterior.  Use a pair of tongs to check the side on the bottom.  Spray the fillet with oil again when you flip it. 

Cook for 3 - 5  minutes per side at 350 degrees - serve with tarter sauce


For the dredge station:
1/2 - 1 cup flour or corn starch and tspn sea salt in one container
1/2 cup of egg white in a shallow bowl
1 cup panko and 1 tspn sea salt in third container

For the air fried fish
1/2 lb cod per person

For the tarter sauce
2 tbspns reduced fat mayonnaise (you can use full fat mayo if you prefer)
1 tspn sweet pickled relish 
1/2 tspn capers
1 tspn anchovy juice (optional - use 1/2 tspn sea salt as substitute)
1 tbspn Ken's Italian Dressing (plain)
1/2 tspn Dijon mustard
2 - 3 tbspns Ken's Dressing to taste and desired thickness
1 tspn capers
2 tbspns fresh squeezed lemon juice

      Ken's Steak House Italian Dressing


Air Fryer fried cod
Cut the cod into small, slider-sized fillets.  Approximately 3" long x 2" wide
Sprinkle sea salt over both sides of fillets
Dry thoroughly by wrapping each fillet in a paper towel
Press down on both sides of fillets, changing paper towels as needed
Let sit in paper towels for at least 10 minutes on the counter
Dredge each piece through the Trinity (flour, egg white, panko)
Arrange in the air fryer - leaving room between each fillet
Cook at 350 degrees for 3 - 5 minutes each side (keep an eye on them)
Serve Immediately

     Anchovy Juice replaces sea salt - 
            I found this at Eataly

For the Tarter Sauce
combine ingredients in a small bowl
whisk together
cover and transfer to the refrigerator to chill and set - at least 10 minutes

Serve and enjoy!  Up next: French fries (aka chips) in the air fryer

Up Next: Fish and Chips Part II - Chips aka French fries 
in the air fryer

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Skinny & Easy Roasted Chicken in the Air Fryer


Chick in a Jiff!

Roasted chicken breast is my go-to dinner.  You'll notice I say "roasted" even though I'm using the Air Fryer.  Sometimes I think they should have called them "Air Cookers" but I guess that's not as catchy a name. 

When I want something to taste and look fried - like fried chicken, I dredge the chicken through cornstarch, egg whites and panko.  Here's an example of skinless boneless chicken using this method (I'll do a step by step for fried chicken in a future post). 

Fried Chicken in the Air Fryer

But for today we'll keep it super simple and just go with roasted chicken.  Whether you're making fried or roasted chicken, the important thing is to get it as dry as possible.  I cover the breast in sea salt and other seasonings and wrap it in paper towels and let it sit on the counter for a few hours. 

Cover in sea salt and spices; wrap in paper towels

After the chicken breast has been drying in the paper towels for a few hours, marinate.  I use Ken's Zesty Italian dressing.  It might be my Boston upbringing but I love Ken's dressing.  I remember going to the actual restaurants as a child.  I love the regular Ken's Steakhouse dressing on butter or iceberg lettuce.  But I digress.  Suffice to say it makes a great marinade. 

Marinate in Ken's Dressing

Of course, you can marinate in your favorite dressing.  I also rub dried sage, oregano, granulated garlic along with the sea salt.  You could toss in red pepper flake if you'd like some heat.  I've also added Worcestershire Sauce, too.  I keep the chicken breast in the container while I dry and marinate to save on cleanup. 

Roasted chicken marinated in Ken's Dressing and Worcestershire Sauce

The Worcestershire Sauce gives the chicken a blackened look.  I was worried that I had overcooked it - but it was juicy and delicious as always.  

I cook the chicken breast for 8 minutes on each side.  I start with the skin side down and cook at 350 degrees for the first 8 minutes.  I flip it and crank the heat up for 400 degrees for the final 8 minutes.  It's important to let the breast rest.  I cover put it on a plate and tent tinfoil over it.  I let it rest while I cook the veggies in the same Air Fryer.  This another thing I love - cleanup is easy!

Cook your veggies while the chicken rests

I'll do a separate post on cooking vegetables - but it's super easy.  Once I'm ready to eat, I heat up everything at a low temperature while you set the table - and reward yourself with a glass of wine. 

Heat up everything while you set the table

Easy Roasted Chicken Dinner


One medium sized chicken breast per person
To taste:
Sea Salt
Dried sage
Granulated garlic (or fresh and finely chopped)
Dried oregano
Ground black pepper
Other spices as desired


Pat dry chicken breasts in paper towels (discard)
Sprinkle sea salt and spices over chicken breast
Wrap seasoned breast tightly in paper towels
  and leave to dry on the kitchen counter
Cover with marinade; let sit for at least 30 minutes to an hour
Place chicken in the air fryer skin side down
Cook at 350 degrees for 8 minutes
Flip and cook for another 8 minutes at 400 degrees
  (you may want to put a bit more dressing on top)
Remove from air fryer; let rest on a plate tented with tinfoil 

Serve and enjoy!