I was over the moon when I was offered the chance to receive a Tefal Actifry to test but I have to admit, I was dubious about how well it would actually work. Well, I've already shown you how well the almost oil-free chips come out, but after flicking through the enclosed recipe ideas booklet, I decided I wanted to try some of those out too to see how well they worked.
I have to admit, cooking chilli in the Actifry goes against all my cooking instincts - I always start off with the onions and garlic, then brown the mince before adding the peppers, mushrooms and carrots, throw in the tomatoes and leave it all to reduce for a good hour or so. With the Actifry, it all seems back to front but, for once, I followed the recipe.
You start off cooking the peppers and onions (and I added mushrooms - I didn't dare add carrot though as I didn't think it would cook enough) in a spoonful of oil. The smell that wafts out just in front of the machine is gorgeous.
Then you add in the mince and chop it up a bit with a fork. No need to brown it in advance, no need to add extra oil and it all browns really nicely within a few minutes. You actually need to keep a close eye on it as it cooks really quickly and would burn if you're not careful. Luckily, watching the Actifry paddle go round and round is strangely mesmerising and soothing so I usually end up watching it for the first ten minutes anyway !
I had a jar of spicy tomato cooking sauce that needed using up after making fajitas earlier in the week, so this is where I stopped following the Tefal recipe to the letter. They mentioned adding a tin of tomatoes and stock, which sounded like a lot of liquid to me, so if you've tried it, let me know how it worked ! I also used a packet of Epicure beans which I will be reviewing shortly. A final mix and it was ready.
It didn't taste better than my usual chilli but it did taste just as good, and using the Actifry does have several advantages. Firstly, it cooked quicker. Secondly, I used less oil than usual and Sophie said that she found the finished dish less greasy. Thirdly, there are no cooking smells all over the house. Fourthly, it's a contained unit well back on the worktop so I don't have to worry about little fingers pulling down saucepans on the hob or touching the flames. This also means 9-year-old Sophie can cook dinner "all by herself" - she already helps me chopping up the vegetables and adding things into the mix, but I won't let her stir bubbling pots on the hob as I'm scared she'll burn herself. But the Actifry switches off when you open the lid so it's a much safer option and she can feel all grown-up doing it all by herself, with me just standing by to keep an eye on things !
The final bonus is that there's no washing up - the Actifry pan goes straight in the dishwasher and there are no wooden spoons or other utensils to deal with.
I'll be trying out some other recipes from the Actifry recipe book later in the week so I'll keep you posted.
star rating : 5/5
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