Insert joke about how size matters
My wife bought me an air fryer for Christmas 2017 and I was PUMPED. I like frying food and I thought I could play around with some keto vittles and make some killer stuff. The problem was that this particular air fryer was tiny; I soon learned I could potentially cook 2 chicken tenders at a time, which is the speed with which I eat chicken tenders. While she’s the efficiency strategist in the family, it didn’t take much mental gymnastic work for me to realize that math sucked.
So this year, she got me a bigger air fryer and it has made a WORLD of difference. I have tried frying everything in there and most of it comes out as if it’d been actually deep fried. It cooks burgers, pork chops, chicken; it’s just handy as hell. This, if you care, is the model she bought for me that I adore. I have the manual one, which is cheaper and does a great job, though the digital one is probably fine, too.
Anyway, traditional fried cauliflower kicks ass – it’s cheesy, crunchy, and great as a hangover cure. Air fried cauliflower is also delicious and with a few minor tweaks will fit perfectly in your keto Super Bowl party or just as a fun snack.
Air Fried Keto Cauliflower Bites
1 head of cauliflower, cleaned and sliced into half-inch thick sections (see the photos below if this doesn’t make sense)
1 bag of pork rinds, ground in a food processor (or smashed into crumbs however works for you)
1 cup of green canister Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
3 eggs, whisked
Salt and pepper to taste
Start by deciding how big you want your pieces of cauliflower – I made both bites and fried cauliflower “steaks” and both were delicious. If you want smaller pieces, I recommend taking each of those large slices and simply cutting the florets off the central spoke.
Set up a station with a bowl of the whisked eggs, then a gallon-sized freezer bag of the pork rinds and cheeses mixed together, then a plate on which to put the dredged pieces.
Salt and pepper your cauliflower bites and then dip them in the egg wash. Drop them down a few at a time into the bag of cheese/rind crumb and shake the hell out of it. You can enlist children for this part. Grab the pieces out and set them on their plate to rest until it’s all done.
Make an even layer of cauliflower with absolutely no overlap in your air fryer, set it to about 350 degrees, and cook them for 12-15 minutes. That’s it!
Ranch or curried mayo make a really good dip for these things, although they’re really good on their own. If you’re worried they’ll taste like pork rinds, they definitely don’t at all. They retain the saltiness and crunch of the rinds without the overpowering smelltaste (which is a word now) they’re known for.
Why air fry?
I’m not a shill for the air fryer industry, I swear. I love a deep friend literally anything as much as the next American or Scotsman. The problem is that we no longer use stable oils – like beef tallow or coconut oil – to fry. Instead we opt for “heart healthy” oils like canola, vegetable, peanut which are anything BUT heart healthy. Seed and vegetable oils are full of unsaturated fats/omega-6 fatty acids which are good in some quantity. The problem is that processed, western foods have far too MUCH omega-6, which throws our omega-3:6 ratio off and causes systemic inflammation.
Without getting into the minutiae of fat chemistry, saturated vs unsaturated, or the hornet’s nest that is the very “nutritional science” we base our current nutritional guidelines on, I’ll just say that it’s best to avoid industrial oils like canola, vegetable, or corn. If you’re going to fry something, use olive oil, lard, butter, coconut oil, or bacon grease. Or, of course, use an air fryer.
I’m also somewhat allured by the siren song of how easy it is to use this tiny little oven that sits on my counter. I don’t have to wait for it to heat up. It cooks most things faster than my actual oven. It’s really a kitchen gadget that I highly recommend, even if you’re not doing keto.
Have you gotten an air fryer recently? If so, what has been your experience so far?