When we lived in Brunswick we had extensive gardens that included one of my favorite things…blueberry bushes. Every year when they finally ripened we would have more than we could possibly eat, so in addition to freezing them I always looked for some fun recipes to try out. One year I stumbled upon Emeril Lagasse’s Fried Fresh Blueberry Pie recipe and it quickly became an annual tradition.
This year, even though we have moved to the downtown area, I still wanted to make them, as they are a family favorite. I bought my blueberries from the vendor right outside our Culinary Square door and they are delicious! I thought I would try making at least one batch in my newly acquired T-Fal Air Fryer for a healthier spin. This would be my first time using the air fryer so there would be a bit of a learning curve. The air fryer does come with a recipe book and lots of suggestions in the instruction manual, but it’s kind of a guessing game when you are trying to take a recipe and convert it to the air fryer.
So let’s get started. Progressive has a new fruit and veggie keeper that they have coming out. It’s smaller than the one we currently have in stock, so it’s a good size for berries and the like. There are a few features that I like about it. It has side vents that open and close, a tray underneath to keep the water from dripping all over and the lid has instructions on adding water, and opening or closing the vents depending on the item that you are storing. I used this to store the blueberries until I could get to cook them. After I rinsed them and measured out my four cups I put them in my favorite Golden Rabbit Colander.
I always make the dough first and then measure out all my other ingredients. While the dough was chilling, I made the blueberry filling. For the first time, I used the dough press from Progressive rather than sealing them with a fork. When I took the presses out of the box they seemed kind of flimsy, but I used the five inch one and it worked like a charm. Now to the important part, the frying! I wasn’t sure how this was going to work out as the T-Fal air fryer has a paddle in the middle that rotates the food around the cook plate, but I thought I would give it a try without the paddle. I had looked up a few recipes for air fried pies and found only one, that recommended cooking them for 22 minutes and giving them an egg white wash, so I did. I laid three pies in the fryer, closed the transparent lid and set the timer for 22 minutes. In the meantime, I added 6 tablespoons of shortening to my 14” All-Clad sauté pan and fried up six more pies… after all a taste test had to be done.
Good thing the lid is transparent and you can keep on eye on them as they are cooking, because at fourteen minutes they looked done to me and I turned it off. They were easy to remove as the cook pan on the T-Fal is easily removable.
So now the hard part…the taste test. The air-fried pies had more of a biscuit texture to the crust. The filling tasted just the same. Would they beat the fried pies in a blind taste test? Absolutely not. But when you compare six tablespoons of shortening to no oil at all in the air fryer, is it a healthier and tasty alternative? Absolutely yes! I liked using the air fryer and am going to try fresh French fries next. I’ll keep you posted!