Gadgets

Kitchen gadgets, gear, and appliances to help you get things done.

Gadgets: ActiFry by T-Fal

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[Photo: Cooking.com]

If it's true that most resolutions are broken within six weeks, we serious eaters on a quest to eat less indulgently this year will need all the help we can get. That's exactly what drew me to T-Fal's new product, the ActiFry, which, despite its unhealthy-sounding name, is just the opposite. Through its mesmerizing heat pulse technology, it cooks (and fries!) foods with little to no oil: the tagline claims two pounds of fries with as little as one tablespoon of oil. But can it be true?

Yes, it can. Surprisingly, the ratio of one tablespoon to two pounds yields perfectly crispy fries that, if thinly cut, are hardly distinguishable from your favorite drive thru's. When they're not drowned in oil, potatoes aren't half bad for you, so you can bet I'll be incorporating more fries into my healthy diet this year. (Sounds crazy, doesn't it?)

Wondering how it works? By blowing extremely hot air into the container and constantly rotating what's inside with a spinning paddle, the ActiFry cooks foods quickly, evenly, and without the after-smell by sucking out the internal moisture while creating a crunchy exterior. Apparently, it's a technology that took T-Fal over ten years to produce. They've also done a nice job engineering the machine for easy cleanup and handling—all the non-stick pieces pull apart with the touch of a button and are dishwasher safe.

Here's the caveat: it might help trim the waistline, but the ActiFry will take a good cut of your bank account, too. Since it costs a whopping $300 (ok, $299.95), it better do a whole lot more than make lean fries. It certainly can do a bit (as indicated by the 30+ recipes that come with it), but many of its functions can be easily achieved in any other cooking vessel. Chili and risotto, for instance, are perfectly suitable options, but aside from the stirring paddle, aren't made easier (or healthier) by virtue of the ActiFry. And frying is limited, too—don't throw in anything that's been battered unless you want a big, crumbly mess. Instead, use it for simple things like fruits and vegetables (who doesn't like fried bananas?).

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