Cooking with… gas-electric?
On-board power of 2021 Ford F-150 hybrid offers a unique twist on al fresco cooking
Read this article for free:
Already have an account? Log in here »
To continue reading, please subscribe with this special offer:
All-Access Digital Subscription
$1.50 for 150 days*
- Enjoy unlimited reading on winnipegfreepress.com
- Read the E-Edition, our digital replica newspaper
- Access News Break, our award-winning app
- Play interactive puzzles
*Pay $1.50 for the first 22 weeks of your subscription. After 22 weeks, price increases to the regular rate of $19.00 per month. GST will be added to each payment. Subscription can be cancelled after the first 22 weeks.
Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 30/06/2021 (527 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
MIDDLE OF NOWHERE — Coconut-crusted shrimp are crisping in the air fryer and vegetables are sizzling on the electric grill. Lunch is almost ready, but despite the use of electric appliances, no Manitoba Hydro electrons were the least bit inconvenienced in the process.
I’ve pulled off the road somewhere in the middle of nowhere (somewhere in the RM of Ritchot, actually) and set up the kitchen in the bed of a 2021 Ford F-150 Powerboost Hybrid. On board is a 7.2-kilowatt power centre feeding four 120-volt outlets and one 240-volt outlet.
I’m barely taxing its capabilities, which Ford says include the ability to run an entire job site. If I had a small refrigerator, no problem. If I was building a shed or a deck and wanted to cook chili for the crew while circular saws or electric drills were doing their thing, easy peasy.
This isn’t a story that attempts to say you need to spend $83,713 on this particular pickup to cook al fresco — Hibachis and portable gas grills have been doing that for about $83,613 less for decades — but is rather just a fun spin on a couple of recipes you might like to try at home, while spotlighting some new technology in the move towards greater electrification of vehicles.
In addition to the grilled veggies, I chose two air-fryer recipes specifically because they can’t realistically be replicated on a barbecue. One turned out delicious while the other… more on that later.
The shrimp combined grated unsweetened coconut, Panko bread crumbs, egg and flour to create a crispy crust despite the lack of deep-frying. It’s important for crispiness that you preheat the air-fryer first, to 410 F. Shrimp cook exceptionally quickly, so while chicken fingers and the like might take 20 minutes, these exoskeletal sensations take only five minutes per side.
I paired them with a salad of grilled vegetables — red pepper, zucchini, eggplant — and cool, crisp cucumber and cherry tomatoes for a variety of texture and temperatures. Once combined, they were tossed in a lemon vinaigrette I whipped up at home before heading out.
Vinaigrettes are cheap and easy, and let you ditch expensive store-bought dressings and some of their associated preservatives: a little acid, in this case, lemon zest and juice, olive oil, a dab of dijon mustard and salt and pepper is all you need. In my case, I added some thyme. Pack your dressing in a sealed container before you go and a quick shake on site will re-emulsify it all for you.
The lemon was what tied the two dishes together: a squirt of fresh lemon made the shrimp come alive.
Dessert was to have been air-fryer apple fritters… let’s just say that recipe will need a bit of perfecting. The fritters tasted fine, but the batter may have been too moist: instead of individual fritters it turned into a puddle before cooking through.
Cooking with the truck’s power supply was as easy as plugging in at home, but, out of an abundance of caution given it’s not my truck, I opted to place the appliances on the bed of the truck rather than the tailgate. The tailgate is very handy, with measuring marks and pockets to attach C-clamps for woodworking, but I was worried the heat from the grill and fryer might deform the plastic.
Reaching across the tailgate was less than ideal: next time, I’d bring a piece of plywood to act as a countertop or place the appliances on their own table.
Because the truck is a hybrid and not a full-on electric, it splits the work of propulsion and electrical generation between the gas motor and the electric system, which is less robust than in a full electric vehicle. It means you can keep going for as long as you can keep fuel in the tank, but it also means you have to leave the truck’s power on when using the on-board power. That doesn’t mean the engine is constantly running, however. It will fire up when needed to top up the batteries, but for the most part, stayed off.
The move to electrify trucks — Ford is launching a full-electric F-150 Lightning next year — and crossovers represents a significant step forward for electric vehicles: in a market that in 2020 was 82 per cent trucks and crossovers, expecting a small hatchback or sedan, EV or otherwise, to gain any degree of market share is optimistic. Crossovers and trucks offer carmakers more flexibility in pricing, to help pay for the technology, and their popularity means economy of scale for EVs will arrive sooner.
Tailgate parties may never be the same: a blender for margaritas (virgin if you’re driving, of course), an air-fryer for the obligatory crispy snacks and some tunes to drown out that football game you’re probably not going to see live anyway… and you’re set.
Copy Editor, Autos Reporter
Kelly Taylor is a Winnipeg Free Press copy editor and award-winning automotive journalist. He's been a member of the Automobile Journalists' Association of Canada since 2001.