Community Kitchen: Air Fryer Roasted Chicken, Winter Borscht, Apple Spice Bran Muffins
by Lea Ault and Alice Bradley
Hands up if you got an air fryer for Christmas! We actually got one before Christmas because it was on sale. I really had no idea what an air fryer was until ours arrived. It looks like a black plastic pod with a drawer in it. Basically, it’s a small, intense convection oven. You put things in the drawer, close the drawer, push a few buttons and periodically pull the drawer out to check how things are going. It’s easy! I rushed out and bought frozen zucchini sticks, chicken strips and frozen fries to try out the new toy.
It works a treat on all those things. If you found it in the freezer section, it’s good for the air fryer. Quick and crispy! However, it soon became clear that the ability to make really good frozen fries in six minutes was maybe not the best thing for us. So, I’ve been experimenting and found that bacon cooks very well in the air fryer – no spatter and it’s easier to clean than a baking sheet, plus you can use your oven for something else. It’s also fantastic at heating up leftovers that should have a crispy crust, like fried chicken. But surely it does more than that? I’m working on it. Right now, I can offer this roasted chicken method. A nice roast chicken is a good January meal; not too heavy and you can have it with salad.
Roasted Chicken in the Air Fryer
Prepare your favourite marinade and marinate the chicken at least a few hours, best overnight. One of my standards is lemon juice and rind, olive oil, lots of garlic, red pepper flakes and salt and pepper, but here is a Peruvian marinade that has a nice zip to it.
Use a food processor to whiz together:
6 garlic cloves
1 tsp oregano
2 Tbsp lime or lemon juice
2 Tbsp shoyu
1 tsp pepper
1 Tbsp brown sugar or honey
1 tsp salt
2 tsp paprika
1 Tbsp cumin
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 cup olive oil
Place in the air fryer basket, breast down to start. Run at 360F for 30 minutes. Flip the chicken, cook another 20 more minutes, until internal temperature reaches 165F. Let rest 15 minutes before carving up. (No air fryer? Roast chicken at 400F for 15 minutes, then turn heat to 375 for another 45 or until a pierced thigh is no longer pink.)
Juice will have collected underneath the air fryer basket – degrease it, pop it in a saucepan, add a cup of chicken broth with a tablespoon of flour whisked into it – a little white wine too if you have it – and heat until it all thickens. Use to drizzle over the chicken pieces. Or make a chimichurri sauce or similar green sauce for dipping. Or garlic sauce:
Whiz together in a food processor:
1/2 c. low fat mayonnaise
1/2 c. sour cream or yogurt
3 cloves garlic
1 Tbsp tahini
2-3 tsp Sriracha
1 tsp salt
pepper to taste
1 tsp lemon or lime juice
Fries like garlic sauce too. You can make fries while the chicken is resting!
What else shall we eat in January while we’re trying to get back to normal eating habits? It’s supposed to get colder this month, so soup is a great way to warm up. This is a borscht recipe – good peasant soup, hearty yet healthy. We used to have a Russian neighbour who made the best soup and shared it.
Alice: “Mabel used to make a big batch of this soup and send a few containers over to our house for dinner to be served with rye bread (if you are Russian) but any bread or buns will do. She usually added the sour cream to the soup but you can just add a spoonful to the serving. She added chopped dill, a few tablespoons, during the summer months but for winter, just a few teaspoons of dried dill.”
1.5 pounds of lean round steak, cut in 1/2-1 inch cubes or the same amount of lean ground beef.
Vegetable oil 2 tablespoons
1 large diced onion
2 large diced carrot
2 large cloves of garlic chopped
1 large tin diced tomato
2 Tbsp tomato paste
8 cups of low salt beef or vegetable broth
2 beef bouillon cubes if you are using vegetable broth but is optional
2 Tbsp white vinegar
2 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp dried dill
1 small head of cabbage, ribs removed, cut into 1.5-2 inch cubes or shredded
Salt and pepper to taste
2-3 Tbsp butter
Sour cream to serve with soup
Heat oil, brown the round steak or ground beef, then add the onion, carrot and celery and sauté over moderate heat for 3-5 minutes until softened, add the garlic and sauté another minute.
Add the tomato, the tomato paste, the broth, bouillon cubes, vinegar, sugar, and dill. (No dill? It seems fine without it.) Simmer, covered about 45-60 minutes, add the cut-up cabbage, simmer another 30 minutes until the cabbage is soft.
Add the butter, season with salt and pepper to taste.
Serve with a spoonful of sour cream and rye bread or any bread or rolls on the side.
If vegetable soup is not enough fibre for you, how about some bran muffins?
Apple Spice Bran Muffins
Oven: 400F, greased muffin tins
1 cup yogurt or buttermilk
1 tsp baking soda
Combine in a bowl with room for expansion and set aside.
1/2 c. oil (or 1/4 c. oil and 1/4 c. applesauce or yogurt)
3/4 c. brown sugar (or 1/2 c. brown sugar and 1/4 c. Splenda)
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup All Bran cereal
Combine in a medium bowl.
1/2 c. raisins, soaked in hot water to soften
1 large apple, chopped or grated
In a large bowl combine dry ingredients:
1 cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp ground ginger
Add the yogurt and baking soda mixture to the All Bran mixture, stir thoroughly and then add to the dry ingredients. Stir until just combined and then add raisins and apple and stir until distributed evenly within the batter.
Fill greased muffin tins 1/2 full, bake at 400F for 5 minutes, then another 10 minutes at 350. Check with a toothpick. Let sit in tins for 5 minutes before turning out and letting cool completely on a rack.
Want to top with a streusel? Why not, let’s make it fancy:
Whiz together in mini food processor:
1/4 c. flour
1/4 c. brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon, pinch nutmeg, clove, allspice
1/4 c. butter
Alternative method: melt butter and combine into dry ingredients until crumbly. Use to top muffin batter before baking for extra flavour and crunch.
Happy 2020 and the best to you and your families for the new decade!