HolidayBuyer's Guide

Deep fry your food, without the oil

Want crispy french fries with a decadent fast food taste, hold the heart attack? Of course you do. And now you can have them.

Mmmm. French fries.Photo by T-fal

We eat a lot of fried food in this house. This isn't necessarily something I'm proud of, but it is an undeniable fact and not something that's likely to change in the future. When I saw a pitch for the Actify from T-fal, I was intrigued by the claim that just 1 tablespoon of oil would be enough for 2 pounds of french fries. Intruigued--but, I must admit, unconvinced.

When the Actifry arrived at my home, I was still a little skeptical. The instruction manual indicated that the machine uses minimal oil coupled with a hot-air distribution system and a turning paddle to cook up fries--and a whole lot more--with the taste and texture of deep fried foods, minus the clogged arteries.

My husband got to work slicing potatoes, then dumped them in the bowl of the machine. I told him to add one spoonful of oil--the machine comes with its own measuring spoon. He looked at me. "No way," he said, and I shrugged, knowing I would never hear the end of it if these fries tasted anything less than, well, fried.

I am not an easy woman to impress. But can I just say? Wow. But seriously. Wow. This thing does what it says, apparently by magic. The fries we made? Tasted totally fried. The chicken I tossed in next? Crisped to perfection. And the root vegetable medley suggested in the manual--yum.

At $300, the Actifry is not cheap, but it is super cool. The pan, paddle, lid, and measuring spoon can all go directly in the dishwasher for easy cleanup. Your house doesn't reek of oil when you use it, thanks to an odorless filter. And the transparent lid lets you watch your food fry so that you can retrieve it at precisely the right moment. This is one that's going to be in heavy rotation at my house.

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