Monday, 10 May 2010

Fried Onion Rings

A little while back we ate at a "Chinese" buffet - yeah, in a small Ontario town; I should know better - where I ate some of the worst onion rings I have ever had. No, scratch that. They were definitely the worst. THEY DIDN'T EVEN HAVE ONIONS IN THEM! Who ever heard of that? They were just machine-formed circles of dough with chips of what seemed like rubbery reconstituted dehydrated onion in them, fried to an attractive golden-brown in tired old oil. They were truly grim.

As sometimes happens when I eat something bad that should have been good, I become obsessed with making it myself. I also thought the sweet pink onions I've been cooking with lately would make excellent onion rings, and they do, oh yes.

These are more or less deep fried, but you can do it in a skillet with a reasonable amount of oil, so I'm actually willing to do it once in a blue moon. Strain any leftover oil into a jar and keep in the fridge. Use it for cooking things that will do with a bit of onion flavour; fried rice, sautéed vegetables and so forth. Save any leftover buttermilk and put it in mashed potatoes, but that should be done within 24 hours or so, unlike the oil which should keep for a few days.

There seems to be two schools of onion ring thought out there; either they are dipped into a proper batter and fried, or they are marinated in buttermilk then coated in flour and fried. I opted for the second school of thought and have not been sorry. The results are delectable and the coating can be relied upon to stick. A number of recipes call for the addition of herbs and/or spices to the flour but I actually like just plain flour best. Why interfere with the flavour of the lovely onions? Well okay; a little salt and pepper is good.

4 servings
20 minutes - plus 24 hours to marinate

Onion Rings

1 or 2 large mild onions ( I used a sweet pink onion)
1 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup white flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 cup mild vegetable oil to fry

Peel the onion and slice it into even, 1/4 inch slices horizontally, so that the slices will separate into rings. Put them into a container and pour the buttermilk over them, lifting and turning them so that they are well coated. Seal them well and store in the fridge overnight to 24 hours. Use two onions if you only want to use the largest rings, and save all the smaller rings (about half of the total onion mass) for other purposes.

Mix the flour, salt & pepper in a shallow bowl. Mix the onions gently but well in the buttermilk again, making sure all are well-coated. Using a fork, lift a few at a time into the dish of flour, and turn them until they are well coated in the flour. Set the coated rings aside on a plate until you are ready to fry. You can stack them up, but carefully; making sure they don't stick to each other.

Heat the oven to 300°F, and put in a heat-proof dish to hold the finished onion rings and keep them hot.

Heat the oil in a large skillet until hot over medium-high heat. Add an onion ring to test it, and when it begins to sizzle well, add more onion rings to fill the pan without crowding it. Fry the onion rings for 3 or 4 minutes in total each, turning them to brown them on both sides. When they are browned on both sides, lift them out with a slotted spoon, and put them in the oven to keep hot. Add more rings to the pan, and continue cooking until all are done.

Blot the hot onion rings briefly on paper towel, and serve at once.

Last year at this time I made Pasta with Cheddar, Cream & Spring Veggies.


Joanne said...

First of all. Why were onion rings being served at a Chinese buffet?

Second of all. These look like every onion ring lover's dream.

Sophie said...

Waw!! Your fried onion rings look so awesome!


Ferdzy said...

Joanne, all small town Ontario "Chinese" buffets have onion rings. And french fries. And are mostly pretty bad. I'm embarrassed to have to admit to going to one... but we were in a hurry and when you're in a small town there's not much choice.