June 19, 2019 11:12:24 AM
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.)
SOUTHWEST EGG ROLLS
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
One package uncooked tortillas from refrigerated section
Oil for spraying or basting
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