Beer-Battered Onion Rings

19 Sep

The light through the window makes the onion rings look divine. They were almost that good.

So I’ve been a pretty terrible excuse for a blogger as I’ve gotten re-situated back in NYC. I have done a little bit of cooking/I’ve taken some pictures, so I do have stuff to blog about, I just haven’t done it. But I think I’ve got a schedule figured out now, so hopefully I will begin to suck less at updating.

Right. So a little while back we had a student activities potluck and I decided that I didn’t want to make ludefisk or green bean casserole. Even though most fried things don’t keep for more than a few minutes, I’ve always thought onion rings that had been sitting for a half hour or so were at least as good as the totally fresh kind. Also, since I just moved back up here, my dutch oven hadn’t been cooked in for like 4 months and needed me to fry in it to re-season it. So onion rings it was. They were a big hit at the potluck. If you decide to make these things as a side dish with a complete meal, send me pictures of how they turn out/what you pair them with! Down to business.

Stuff

Check out my sweet new butcher block table! Thank you Swedes for making furniture I can afford.

2 big yellow onions (or white onions if you enjoy wasting money)

Flour, +/- 1 cup

Yellow corn meal, +/- 1 cup

Lots of vegetable oil

1 egg

1 T. Worcestershire Sauce

Beer (I ended up using about a cup of beer, which was less than I thought I would need. Also, because this is a very simple recipe, do not use crappy beer. I bought a toasted lager that had enough flavor and color to really stand out. I’ve made beer batter with cheap domestic light beers, and it’s fine for some stuff, but definitely not for this. Use beer with character and color)

1 t. garlic powder

Pepper

Salt

Seasoned salt

Steps

My overwhelming affinity for cast iron is definitely one of my redneck tendencies.

First of all, a word about frying hardware (again, as we briefly discussed this with the fried chicken recipe). There is nothing in the world that has ever been better for frying things than cast iron. Really, there is nothing that is better for cooking almost anything in than well-seasoned cast iron. I live in a hotel room sized studio apartment and I have 5 pans: a nonstick sauce pot, a cast iron skillet, a cast iron dutch oven, a wok, and a cast aluminum (I think) grill pan. That’s a long way of saying you can make almost anything in a cast iron skillet or dutch oven if you learn to take care of them right. I fear I’ve lost you on this rant though. Back to making onion rings.

So the general idea for frying onion rings is to fry in relatively hot oil (375 or so) that is deep enough to maintain an even temperature and allow you to fry several rings at once. It can get expensive to use a lot of oil, but there are lots of ways to strain and reuse oil that has been used for deep frying. So go ahead and use a lot of oil (I had 3-4″ of it in there) and put it on medium high heat. If you’re still not comfortable with estimating oil temperature by the way it looks/how things sizzle, get a candy thermometer to use until you are. If the oil gets above 400, turn it down, it can get dangerous; if it gets below 350, turn it up or you’ll be eating soggy greasy fried goods.

I put my liquid in before I put my egg in. I don't know why, but it worked out fine.

While your oil is heating up, make your beer batter. Start by putting a cup of flour, a cup of cornmeal, 2 T. of salt, 1 t. of garlic powder and a full T. of black pepper in a big mixing bowl. Use a whisk to mix this up, and then it’s time to start adding wet ingredients.

There are not exact numbers on this batter recipe because you are aiming at a certain consistency. start by adding enough beer (and your egg) to start to make a dough. Whisk your batter until it’s smooth, but not so much that all of the delicious bubbles from the delicious beer escape. Beer batter is good because it’s light and fluffy. The consistency you should be aiming for with this stuff is thinner than pancake batter but thicker than crepe batter. if it’s too thin, it won’t stick to the onions, it’s too thick, it will all stick to  a couple of onions. If you make it too thin, there is a really easy fix. Instead of panicking or eating onion rings that are really just greasy onions with some goo on them, add a little bit more flour and cornmeal.

So now you have hot oil and batter. That means it’s time to cut your onions into rings. When you’re at the store, buy the really big onions. Like huge. Then do this:

Remember to be gentle when you’re separating out rings from the onions. Also remember that sections of a sphere like an onion have an iceberg-like shape, so be sure you aren’t trying to push the wide part up through the narrower part of the thing. And don’t worry too much about getting every single ring; a little bit of wasted onion is not the end of the world/you can always chop them up and use them in anything else.

I used a 2 fork method: one for the batter side and dropping them into oil, one for moving them around in the oil and pulling them out.

I was actually surprised how many rings I was getting out of each of the onions I bought. I thought I’d need 5 or 6 of them at least, and I just used 2. Once I’d cut about 2/3 of an onion into slices, I started battering and frying. I was able to fry about 5 rings at a time. It may take a few tries to get the right level of batter on them — I would shake them on the fork a little bit to get an even but not overly gloppy coating.

Gently lay the rings into hot oil and cook them for about 2 minutes apiece or until they are golden brown. This batter came out a little bit lighter colored than traditional onion rings, and they were freaking beautiful.

As you pull the rings out of the fryer, shake the excess oil of of them, put them on a plate lined with paper towels and sprinkle them with some seasoned salt.

Sizzle sizzle!

Make sure you season them while they’re still hot. If you season stuff right after it comes out of the fryer it absorbs the seasoning and tastes much better.

I did not serve these rings with any ketchup or anything because I wanted people to taste the beer batter. Between the beer and the garlic powder and the copious amounts of black pepper, ketchup really would have just gotten in the way.

Rings anyone?

Let’s Eat!

–N

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