Monday, October 15, 2018

Quick Peek: Ninja Foodi

Ninja has made some innovative products, and I've reviewed a few of them over the years. Their slow cooker was on my kitchen counter for many years, and their blenders are real beasts.

The latest from Ninja's warped mind is the Foodi. As soon as I saw it, I pre-ordered the danged thing because I just had to try it. I had to.

And then I waited for it to show up.

And then it arrived. I had the box ripped open and it was on my counter running through a test before the delivery guy had gotten to the end of the block. puff, puff

The Foodi is the mutant stepchild of a pressure cooker and an air fryer. Yeah, you heard that. It pressure cooks AND it air fries.

That's why I had to have it. This is a new category of product, and it actually makes sense.

I've owned pressure cookers of all types, and I use mine regularly. Air fryers, though ... I've used them, I've liked the results, but I never loved them enough to keep them on my counter top long term. The idea of combining an air fryer with a machine I use often just made sense.

I did a quick pressure test to make sure the pressure cooker function was working correctly, then I browsed through the recipe book that came with the machine to see what I could make right away. I settled on potato wedges because I had a bag of potatoes and I knew I liked them in an air fryer.

The instructions were a little different than what I made in the air fryer. These were pressure cooked for a short time, then I drizzled on some oil, and then I air fried them. The result was very much like what I'd gotten from the previous air fryer, but faster.

The cooking bowl of the Foodi is wider than any of my other electric pressure cookers - a bit over 9 inches in diameter - so it will fit larger accessories and larger hunks of food, as long as they're not super tall. And for sure it can hold more than the air fryers I've used, so that's a bonus. It also seems to be willing to work with less liquid than some pressure cookers I've used. For the potatoes, I only needed 1/2 cup of water, which isn't much at all.

I'm kind of curious about that wide bowl, particularly for cooking cheesecakes. I've made cheesecakes in my other pressure cookers before, but they were pretty small, since larger pans wouldn't fit. With this wide pan, I can fit at least an 8-inch springform pan, and possibly even a 9-inch pan. I guess I'll be experimenting with cooking times.

Besides the machine and the nonstick cooking pot, this comes with a "cook and crisp" basket that I used for the potato wedges. And I have to mention that the potatoes got brown and crisp on both the top and bottom. It also includes a rack that can be used in two different ways, either as a steaming rack to keep food low in the cooking pot, or as a broiler rack, holding the food close to the top where the heat is generated.

It has one lid that's permanent - that's the air fryer lid. And there's a removable lid for pressure cooking. When you use the pressure cooker lid, you simply flip the fryer lid up.

I plan on doing some more testing with this, but I wanted to give you a heads-up on it, since it's so new and weird.

So far, I like it. Next, I'm going to try some chicken. There is a recipe in the book for a whole "roasted" chicken that is first pressure cooked, then air fried, and that's kind of fascinating. This could also be great for ribs, since they could be pressure cooked, then slathered with sauce and air fried or broiled.

I haven't tried all the buttons yet, so I'm not sure how they all function. Unlike many of the electric pressure cookers that have buttons for everything from cake to poultry, this doesn't have presets for different foods. And that's fine with me. I seldom use the presents on my pressure cooker.

When you're ready to press buttons, this senses whether the fryer lid is in place or not, and the cooking options change based on that. If you're already cooking with the fryer lid in place, the lid will turn itself off while you check the food. Then it turns on again and cooking resumes when the lid is down again.

But back to buttons ...

With the fryer lid down, you have options to air fry, bake/roast, or broil. With the fryer lid lifted, you have your choice of pressure cook, steam, slow cook, and sear/saute. It won't actually pressure cook without the lid, but the settings are there. Up and down buttons let you change the temperature and set the time. There's also a keep warm function, a start/stop button, and a power-off button.

So, yeah, I have a lot of testing to do. Lots of buttons to press. But first, I need to buy a chicken.

I bought this. Nada freebies.

Note: as I'm writing this, Amazon only has these from third-party sellers at a considerably higher price than I paid. Wait until the price comes back down if you're as crazy as me and you need one of these.

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