I don’t get it that some people don’t like onions. I love ‘em. And the way they can completely change in flavor when cooked is awesome. One minute they go from sharp and acidic to smooth, sweet, and earthy. Though eating them raw isn’t always my favorite, it’s my preferred way to have them on a burger (though if you give them a quick grill first, I won’t complain). That sharp flavor just cuts through the fattiness of the burger. I’ve already explained about caramelizing them, so let’s do something else.
Given that I’m fond of onions, it’s only natural that I crave onion rings every now and then. I’ve never fried them myself, but I have been making this oven-fried version that I got from Cooking For Engineers. I like to think that because I’m not deep frying these, I’m eating something healthful. Onions are vegetables, right? That means it’s healthful, right? Don’t tell me the truth. Let me pretend.
These guys were quite good. They aren’t as good as some of the fried ones I have had in restaurants or bars, but they are a very good substitute. Quite a bit of flavor is in these courtesy of an uncommon ingredient in fried foods: kettle chips. Adding potato chips seemed unusual at first, but it’s actually a great way to get a bit of that fried crispness in there without actually frying them.
Anyway, I was in the process of moving and my camera was still packed away, so these pictures were taken with my phone. The colors are a little washed out, so let’s just pretend that these looked even better in real life and that they tasted even better than you imagine.
If you have never battered anything, be prepared to use several bowls and get an assembly line going. Let’s get to the recipe and I’ll explain as I go.
Serves 4. Again, this is from Cooking For Engineers.
2 Onions, cut into rings
about 1/4 cup AP flour, for dredging
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 cup AP flour
30 saltine crackers
4 cups (about 4 large handfulls) kettle chips
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1. Preheat oven to 450F.
2. Whisk the buttermilk, egg, salt, pepper, and flour in a bowl. Grind/pound/mash the chips and crackers in another bowl–it helps to have a food processor, I don’t, so I just used the bottom of a beer bottle to crush the chips.
3. Set the stage: The bowl of onions goes first. Next to it, place a bowl of the 1/4 cup of flour for dredging. After that comes the bowl of batter. Then finally the chips–I put these in a pie plate because it has a big enough lip to keep everything together, but small enough to stay out of the way. Then a plate, or something to set the battered rings on temporarily. I told you used use a lot of bowls.
Now it’s just a matter of following the order. Take the onion ring into the flour and dredge it to coat it in flour. Dip it into the batter, make sure it’s coated. Then press as much of the crumbs into the onion ring as you can. Don’t worry if there are bald spots, it happens. Then just set them onto a plate as you continue the process with the rest of the rings.
4. Once all the rings are dredged, add the oil to to a baking sheet and put it into the oven to heat it up (he says 8 minutes, but I have found that 5 may be enough in some ovens). Once the oil is hot, pull the pan out and arrange the onion rings as best you can into one layer. Bake for about 8 minutes, flip the onion rings over and bake for 8 more. Do try to allow then to cool enough so you don’t burn yourself.