Why Use A Crisper Tray?
A well-made crisper tray allows you to “fry” food without really frying and that means frying without unhealthy oils and other fats. The tray creates space for the heated air in your oven to flow around the food being fried so the crispiness you love so much in fried foods still happens. It’s just done without the spitting, popping, dripping, and often unhealthy hot oil.
The difference is especially obvious when you compare French fries that have been sitting for a while. Normally, they lose their crispiness soon after they cool.
As they continue to cool, they become soft and wilted, and the oil they were fried in becomes more obvious, both in the appearance and in the taste of the fries.
When you cook those exact same fires using a Gotham Steel crisper tray the first thing you notice is they are just as crispy as those that were deep-fried. Just like normal fries, you can hear the crisp snap when you break them and you certainly get the same effect when you bite into them.
Next is the taste. When I used my deep frier on my fries, and even my fried chicken, I had to choose my oil carefully to avoid changing the flavors of these foods. Using the crisper tray, I no longer worry about other flavors. Fries taste like potato and all of the flavors of my chicken batter come through exactly as wanted when I dipped the pieces.
Finally, the crispiness doesn’t fade away. The fries stay firm and the unmistakable crumb on the fried chicken is there from start to finish. This is one of my favorite reasons for using my crisper.
What Is A Crisper Tray?
A crisper tray is two pieces in one piece of bakeware, and both are equally important.
First is the base tray where all of the fats that drip off your food as it cooks will be collected and that’s important for two reasons. That fat, when caught just below your food, is given the chance to steam and continue to infuse your dish with flavor. This means it isn’t going to waste and helps to ensure your dishes won’t come out tasting bland.
Next, by capturing those fats in a removable tray, clean up gets a whole lot easier. I find that is especially true with my Gotham Steel crisper tray where both parts are fully coated to deliver great non-stick performance. Trust me when I tell you, it’s a whole lot easier to clean the tray than to clean the inside of your oven.
The second part of the crisper tray is the coated wire mesh pan where your foods will sit and cook. It has a fairly open weave that allows air to reach every part of the dish you’re cooking because it holds the food up and off the solid surface of the lower tray or any normal baking pan or sheet.
It’s this design element that really hits the mark for me. The Gotham Steel crisper tray raises the food of the solid surface just enough to let that hot air work for you while not raising it far enough to allow lots of errant splatters. Unless I’m cooking something with high-fat content – burgers are a good example – I don’t get any splatter at all.
How To Use Gotham Steel Crisper Tray
Using a crisper is actually pretty simple. Essentially, you’ll use the tray exactly as you would if you were cooking in a normal baking pan or on a baking sheet.
Prepare your food exactly as you would if you were doing it the old-fashioned way. For fired chicken, chicken fingers, breaded fish, and similar foods prepare your batter exactly as you normally do if you were going to fry them. The same is true for fries, if you normally add any salt or other spices before frying, do the same when preparing them in the crisper.
Lay your food out on the top portion of the crisper tray evenly. You can overlap a bit but keep in mind, the magic happens when the heated air in the over touches every part of your food. Again, don’t get too concerned though. This will work well even on a somewhat crowded crisper tray.
Set your oven temperature at the same level as you would for any baked dish. For food you would have fried, I find something around 425 or 450 works well for fries and chicken legs, wings, and breasts. For thinner foods like chicken fingers or burgers, I set my temp lower. For these, I use 350 to 375.
Every oven will be a bit different so it’s a bit tough to give you a tip on time. What I can say is that my fan-driven oven seems to cook everything a bit faster so fries that the package suggested would need twenty minutes to cook came out great in 15 minutes.
As with anything you’re going to bake, it is a good idea to preheat your oven. Let it come up to its full temperature for a few minutes before putting your tray in to cook. You’ll get a more consistent result in the final dish when you do this.
Still, if you’re in a hurry preheating isn’t absolutely necessary. Since you are using a crisper, every part of your dish is going to have the chance to heat evenly. That isn’t the case when you’re using a baking pan where the food in the center of the pan tends to heat up faster than that food around the edges.
Washing up after is quick and easy. My Gotham Steel crisper tray is made from the same titanium steel as all of their pots and pans and that’s coated with the same non-stick ceramic surface. I do find that it cleans more completely when I wash it by hand but, this crisper tray is dishwasher safe. You can certainly get away with a quick rinse before you pop it into the dishwasher with all of the dishes from your meal.
Especially when I’m serving things like fried chicken, I will often bring the basket portion of the crisper tray directly to the table. It looks perfectly okay and by keeping the chicken up off a solid surface, everything stays nice and crispy throughout the entire meal.
Remember to watch your cooking times carefully, this is essentially an air frier, using your oven and no oil of fat. Over-cooking will dry your food out. It will still be crispy but it won’t be very tasty if you do that. If you would normally back something for 30 minutes, I recommend setting the timer for 20 or 25 minutes and checking to see how the dish is doing.
You do not need to, nor do you want to flip your food as you might do if you were baking or frying. There is no need and especially on batter foods, you could wind up having some of that get lost in the bottom tray. My rule is, “place it and leave it” for the best results.
Do not clean the Gotham Steel Crisper Tray or any of their other pots and pans with abrasives. First, there is no need given the non-stick coating. Food falls away quickly with a gentle wipe. Even if you did find it necessary to clean a bit more aggressively, it won’t need anything more than a soft sponge and some dish soap. Abrasives and chemicals can damage the non-stick finish and ruin your crisper.
I absolutely love my crisper. The Gotham Steel Crisper Tray has allowed me to change my diet radically by virtually eliminating all fried food and that has had a direct and positive impact on my health. It’s even helping me lose pounds by eating healthier.
I love how easy it is to use and to care for too. I love cooking. It’s one of my favorite ways to pass time and destress. But I especially hate the clean up after the creative work is done. With this crisper and the other Gotham Steel pots and pans I am using now, there is a lot less cleanup to hate. In fact, there is something about watching the mess just rinse away that’s almost cathartic. It may sound a bit odd but it actually adds to the whole de-stressing process that draws me into the kitchen.
Try this Gotham Steel Crisper Tray and start benefitting from air frying and don’t be surprised if you start looking at all of the other Gotham Steel products with a sense of longing. It might not be too long before your entire kitchen is turned over to Gotham Steel.