There’s a graduated three-tier wire basket that hangs near my kitchen sink that I keep chock-full of produce. The top basket reverently holds cloves of garlic and, if you dig around, you’ll probably find a few shallots in there, too. The middle one stores anything from a handful of red bliss potatoes to a few hot peppers. But the bottom one – the largest basket – is always, always brimming with a variety of onions. Purple ones to slice or dice for salads, a bunch of yellow ones – you know the kind that comes in a red fishnet bag at the grocery store that are great to put into just about anything. Cippolini whenever I can get my hands on them to baptize in a slow buttery braise until they’re caramelized and the house smells like heaven. And sweet onions for their lovely, mellow flavor.
Just looking at that basket makes me happy because I know as long as I have some onions in the house, something delicious is ready for the making. And lately, I’ve been crushing on onion rings. Crispy, golden, deep-fried onion rings. The kind like you used to get at those shiny chromed roadside diners and drive-in joints. Real retro food to soothe my retro mood.
Of course, onion rings are great served atop a juicy steak. They’re perfect when paired with a big ole cheeseburger. But my favorite way to enjoy this delectable snack is simply this: dunked in copious amounts of tangy ketchup and washed down with a pint of cold beer.
The Stock Pot: Sensational Sides – Beer-Battered Onion Rings
- 2 cups cake flour
- ¼ cup cornmeal
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- one (12-ounce) bottle beer
- canola oil, for deep-frying
- 2 large Vidalia or yellow onions, cut into ½-inch slices and separated into rings
- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Line a baking sheet with paper towels; set a wire rack on top of the paper towels and have it handy by the stove. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking soda, salt, sugar and cayenne until blended. Add the beer and whisk until just combined. Let stand for 10 minutes.
- In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, pour the oil to a depth of at least 3 inches and heat the oil until it registers 365 degrees on a deep-frying thermometer. Working in batches to avoid overcrowding the pot, dip the onion rings in the batter to coat and scrape some of the excess against the side of the bowl. Carefully add the rings to the hot oil and fry until golden brown and crisp, about 2 minutes.
- Using a wire skimmer, transfer the rings to the rack, season with a little salt and keep warm in the oven while you fry the remaining onion rings.
…from the Picture-Perfect kitchen:
Planning: This batter also works well with other vegetables, too. Fry up some broccoli florets, cauliflower florets or button mushrooms and finish with a fresh squeeze of lemon.
Product Purity: You can use large Spanish or yellow onions, but I love the sweetness of a good Vidalia. Serve with good ketchup, free of high fructose corn syrup.
Presentation: Part of what makes homemade food so appealing is that it looks homemade. Don’t sweat it if some of the batter comes off the rings in a few places as they fry – it’s completely normal for a few rings to do it their way.