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Comments by YACCS
Monday, April 03, 2006

Onion rings

You love them

Cooking for Engineers has an awesome post up on Onion Rings. You know you fucking love them done right, admit it.

Good onion rings are hard to find. All too often, the onion rings that I get at diners or from the market are over-fried. The onion has gone way beyond tender and sweet and into the stage best described as flavorless and immaterial. The breading is usually so dominating that what little flavor is left in the overcooked onion requires intense concentration to identify. Even worse are the frozen supermarket onion rings that you reheat in the oven. They either come out soggy or, if the texture is right, they taste as if they were a reconstituted bread product with onion powder flavoring. When Cook's Country Magazine published a new recipe for Oven-Fried Onion Rings involving saltines and kettle-cooked potato chips, I knew I needed to try it.

Usually, home cooked onion rings are dipped in a batter made with some mixture of milk, buttermilk, cream, sour cream, and mayonnaise then tossed in seasoned bread crumbs. The onion rings are then fried or baked. (Frying onion rings always ends up with the best results, but who wants to mess with all that frying oil unless you're already planning to fry something more substantial - like a chicken?) Baked rings have a tendency to not be crispy or crunchy and somehow lack in flavor. Cook's Country solves this problem by using a rich, seasoned batter of buttermilk, flour, and cayenne with a final coating of saltines and potato chips. I've used crushed saltines as an ingredient in a variety of dishes (my favorite being meatloaf), but never used kettle-cooked chips as a cooking ingredient (I tend to eat them before I come up with an clever ideas to cook with them - once I was going to top a casserole with some kettle-cooked chips, but found that I had consumed most of the bag already so I have to use regular potato chips). I was really looking forward to the potential flavors of this onion ring recipe.

Kettle-cooked chips are usually thicker than the run-of-the-mill potato chips and, for this reason, are essential to the crunchy texture of these onion rings. I selected Kettle-brand Krinkle Cut, Salt & Fresh Ground Pepper Flavored Kettle Chips.

I pulled together the ingredients I needed: 30 saltines, 4 cups kettle-cooked potato chips (I couldn't figure out how to measure 4 cups, so I used four large handfuls), 2 medium onions (cut into large 1/2-in. [1-1/4 cm] wide rings), 1/2 cup flour, 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, 1/2 cup buttermilk, and 1 large egg.

I used a food processor to make a ground mixture of the saltines and chips. I simple dropped all the saltines and all the chips into the processing bowl and gave it ten pulses, each about one to two seconds long.

I whisked the buttermilk with 1/4 cup flour, cayenne pepper, egg, salt, and pepper to form the batter. I then placed the onions, remaining flour, batter, and crumbs next to each other so I could form an efficient dredging, dipping, and coating pipeline. Then I turned on my oven to preheat to 450°F.

I took each onion ring and dropped it into the flour to create a dry surface the batter could cling to. I tapped off the excess of flour and dropped the ring into the buttermilk batter. Using a fork, I lifted the ring out of the batter and allowed it to drip off the excess and then dropped it into the processed saltines and chips. Using my fingers I pressed the coating onto the ring and then transferred to a plate. I repeated for each ring.

I poured 3 tablespoons vegetable oil onto a half sheet pan and slipped it into the hot oven and waited for eight minutes - just enough time for the oil to produce wisps of smoke. I pulled the pan out, tilted to coat the pan evenly with oil, and then placed the onion rings onto the pan making sure none of the rings were touching. I put the pan back into the oven and allowed it to bake for 8 minutes when I pulled the pan out and flipped all the rings over. Another 8 minutes in the oven and the onion rings were done.

The rings were amazing - the best oven-fried recipe I have tried to date. The coating had just the right amount of crunchiness (although not really crispy like the deep fried variety) and was full of flavor. Best of all, the onions had been cooked just to the peak of their sweetness.

posted by Steve @ 1:31:00 AM

1:31:00 AM

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