Butter Together: If you can't take the heat

 

Amelia Plair

Amelia Plair

 

 

Amelia Plair

 

 

I grew up in a home without air conditioning. While friends from other parts of the country think very little of this feat, friends from Mississippi recognize it as the amazing accomplishment it actually is.  

 

Because of my upbringing, I understand the value of box fans in windows at night and of a good attic fan. But most of all, I know that heating up the kitchen in summer is simply not an option. 

 

Thankfully, my current home has central air conditioning that keeps us nice and cool all summer. But some lessons die hard, and I have trouble bringing myself to turn on the oven long enough to roast a chicken or vegetables in this heat. I know our AC will keep the temperatures down, but it's hard to justify the necessity of it. 

 

So this summer, I've been experimenting with the latest kitchen gadget: the air fryer. I'll admit I didn't love it at first. I still think the name "fryer" is a little misleading. It's more like a countertop convection oven. 

 

Once I started thinking of it more as an oven that worked quickly and wouldn't heat up my kitchen, I was a lot happier with what my air fryer produced.  

 

This past week, I tried a couple of recipes that I plan to add to my regular rotation, even once the weather cools down. They are just too delicious to stop making. 

 

The first part involves air frying a whole chicken. I have been trying to produce a decent whole roasted chicken to rival the amazing fully-cooked rotisserie chicken available from my grocery store, and this technique produces one that tastes even better, which I honestly wasn't sure was possible.  

 

However, if you don't have an air fryer, you can of course slow cook a chicken or roast it, or simply buy one from your local deli counter. The first night, eat on that chicken the way you ordinarily would, but be sure to have plenty of side dishes to go with it: you want leftover chicken. 

 

Strip off the remaining chicken from the carcass and chop the meat into bite-sized pieces to create the second dinner: southwest egg rolls. I'm giving the ingredients I used in my experiment here along with a few variations that I would like to try. Again, I used my air fryer to cook the egg rolls, but you could fry in 350-degree oil or spray with oil and bake at 400 if you'd rather. 

 

Here is the way I did it. 

 

Amelia Plair is a mom and high school teacher in Starkville. Email reaches her at [email protected] 

 

 

 

AIR FRYER ROASTED CHICKEN 

 

 

 

5 pound whole chicken, innards removed 

 

Seasonings of choice (I tried one with seasoned salt and one with lemon pepper; be sure to check the label and use a seasoning with salt in it or add salt yourself.) 

 

 

 

  • Rub seasonings liberally under the skin of the chicken; this will get messy and gross but is worth it for the finished product. Do not add oil or butter to the seasonings; they will cause the seasonings to drip down to the bottom of the chicken as it cooks. 

     

  • If you have time, place the chicken in a large zippered bag and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight. When you are ready to cook, place the chicken, breast side down, in the air fryer basket. Cook at 400 degrees for 50 minutes. Flip bird and cook for 10 more minutes. Check the internal temperature of the bird; it should be at least 165. Cook for an additional 10 minutes if the temperature is not high enough. 

     

  • Let chicken rest for 10 minutes before eating. 

     

     

     

    SOUTHWEST EGG ROLLS 

     

     

     

    For filling:  

     

    1 1/2 cups cooked, chopped chicken  

     

    1 can black beans, drained 

     

    1 can corn niblets, drained 

     

    1 cup shredded cheese (I used a mix of Colby and pepper jack) 

     

    1 teaspoon fajita seasonings 

     

    Optional: frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry; chopped cilantro; minced green onions; one small can chopped green chilis 

     

     

     

    For wrapping: 

     

    One package uncooked tortillas from refrigerated section 

     

    Oil for spraying or basting 

     

     

     

  • Mix all filling ingredients together in a large bowl. Place an uncooked tortilla on a plate and rub the outer inch with a bit of water.  

     

  • Place 1/3 cup filling about 2/3 down the tortilla. Begin rolling the tortilla from the bottom, folding in the right and left sides as you roll so that the filling stays inside.  

     

  • When roll is completely wrapped, spray thoroughly with oil. Place roll into air fryer. Fill air fryer basket with egg rolls, being sure not to allow them to touch. (I had to do this in batches.)  

     

  • Air fry at 390-400 degrees for 5 minutes. Flip and cook for an additional 5 minutes. While egg rolls are cooking, you may choose to make a dipping sauce of one part sour cream and one part salsa of choice. Cut in half and serve with sauce, if desired.

     

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