The Russell Hobbs Purifry Fryer (£95, ao.com) is a countertop convection oven, shaped in blunted tangent ogive. A radiating element and interior fan circulate heat, while rendered fats drain through the slatted cooking basket.
Because there has never been a healthy fryer. Even Friar Tuck was fat, and he was an outlaw.
My first impression of the Purifry is that it looks exactly like Eve, the futuristic female robot from the film Wall-E. Which is cool, but not a classically valued criterion of kitchen aids. It bills itself as “a healthier alternative to deep-fat frying” – a low bar, given that anything is a healthier alternative to deep-fat frying, even frying.
What is it? “It’s a bit like a specialised fan oven,” the booklet shrugs. Place ingredients in Purifry’s stasis chamber – sorry, cooking bowl – set time and temperature dials, and get her hot gusts going. Her inner workings are mysterious, but she specialises in cakes, vegetables and meat, with an emphasis on chips, “frozen or fresh”. There’s something deeply saddening about oven chips, isn’t there? But let’s leave that aside. (The box also advertises “less odours”, which should probably be “fewer”, but who wants to get into that grammatical cage fight?)
Can she cook? There is a recipe for beef scotch eggs, which is just crazy enough to not work at all: I end up with a cracked-dry beefburger housing a resentful oeuf. She fares much better with sliced parsnips and beetroot, because blowing heat around does cook things. But I don’t understand this machine, any more than I understand algebraic stacks. It is large – the size of two jack russells hugging – yet the food drawer is small. It is nothing like frying; it’s a grill-roast-bake hybrid, without the satisfaction of any of them. It is noisier than a boiler at full whack.
Most of all, I don’t understand its futurism-for-the-sake-of-it, its erasure of the elemental. I like heat, touch, seeing what I’m making. I don’t want “less odours”, or a shonky meal cooked in a giant mechanical egg. This isn’t a healthy fryer – it’s a load of hot air. Judged by its ambition, the Purifry performs poorly; or should that be Paul-E? Either way, we’re not in love.
Basket and bowl are dishwasher safe. Might be useful on a caravan holiday (the only two words more depressing than “oven chips”).
Counter, drawer, back of the cupboard?
Cupboard. Or buried in landfill on a forsaken shell of a planet. 2/5