Tuesday, May 5, 2009

i will stay strong

when i sat down to write this post,
to think about what i wanted
to say,
one thing struck me:
i couldn't concentrate thanks to
the overwhelming
to make another batch
of these onion rings.

and really, that doesn't usually happen.
yes, i often really enjoy what
i make - otherwise, it would be kind
of cruel to share it with you and
then end a recipe with a little
asterisk that read
*i thought the pictures were pretty,
so i wanted to show you and tell
you the story of how it came to be, but
this cake actually tasted terrible, 
make at your own risk.
and sometimes, i'm excited
to make the dish again,
but it is not often that all i can
think is,
i want one. now.

so that should tell you something.
full disclosure:
i have always loved onion rings.
if given the option, i'm sure
i would choose them over fries.
i've always loved them 
beer battered,
dipped in tempura,
and yes, even in a loaf,
which i realize is probably
high on the list 
of gluttonous foods.
but, it's very rare 
that i actually have some.
and when i do, i'm often overcome
by general guilt and overall grossness.
greasy foods leave me feeling...well, greasy.

but that doesn't mean 
that i don't
think that they 
look and smell
like the most amazing food ever.

a few weeks ago, we were running
out the door when my sister,
called from college,
slightly panicked.
she had promised her roommates
a surprise when they returned,
but after trying unsuccessfully
to recreate the recipe
for healthy onion rings
on the back of a cereal box,
she was left with eggy,
slick onions and a bowl
of clumpy crushed flakes.
we ran through several
fixes, all based on the limited
ingredients she had in
her apartment.
nothing worked and
she had to scratch the whole

later that night,
i remembered a recipe that i've
been considering for years:
ellie krieger's
they always looked very good,
but some commenters complained
here, too that everything just slid off
the onions, leaving a nude ring,
in its wake.

i had skipped the recipe 
up until now for two
main reasons. 
1) they looked very simple, 
but anything
involving breading 
always seems like
a project. 
i'm not sure why.
2) i never have buttermilk 
in the house
and it felt like a waste 
to buy a carton
for this side dish.

it had been weeks since my sister
had attempted to make
the onion rings,
but i hadn't stopped thinking
about her problem.
and, by now, 
i've made this salad,
and therefore, am the proud
owner of low-fat buttermilk.

from the get-go, 
i knew there would be a major
change when i made the rings.
ellie used crushed potato chips,
which to me, just sounded
weird. i worried that in 
the end, they would just
taste like potato chips.
so i used panko instead
and added a bit
of kosher salt
along with the cayenne pepper
she originally used.

then, i thought back
to sbp, 
or the standard breading procedure
that we discussed at length
in culinary school.
i knew i learned something there.
these tips though, aren't really so top secret
(but they really did help).
basically, you must coat 
the onions with flour 
before you do anything 
else, but you also must pat off
as much excess flour 
as possible
before dunking the rings in

then, even though
it might take longer, you must
let as much 
buttermilk drip off
as possible,
before tossing into the panko.
and, you really have to 
repeat this process,
one persnickety ring at a time.

it was oddly painless -
resulting in panko that stuck
to the onions, 
and did not clump together
in their bowl of crumbs.
when they were done,
i coated them well in cooking spray
(thinking again that i really
need to invest in an oil sprayer)
and popped them in the oven.
when they came out, 
i sprinkled a touch of kosher
salt over the golden rounds,
placed them in a bowl and thought,
wow, they really look like
like onion rings.

they tasted like them, too.
the coating was crisp
and adhered well to
the very tender
they were spicy, too, thanks to 
the cayenne.

i really loved these 
onion rings.
and while i wouldn't go
as far as to start making
them every night,
or even every week 
(i think at some point guilt would
kick in for these, too),
i will certainly make them again.
they're a nice way to splurge 
without regret, later.
but, considering the fact 
that i really still want one,
(just one more, that's all)
i won't lie to you:
these onion rings 
may just be habit-forming.

spicy baked onion rings
adapted from ellie krieger
besides using panko instead of potato chips, i followed the recipe relatively closely. one step that i skipped and may or may not do next time, was to grind the panko a little finer. on one hand, i loved the texture that this size grain lended to the rings. my argument for grinding would be that, as i was afraid would happen, the cayenne was unable to evenly incorporate and fell to the bottom. as a result, the rings coated last were significantly spicier. 

also, ellie's recipe instructs to only use the largest rings, but since the medium, pop-in-your-mouth rings are my favorite, i took my chances and just watched them closely. they were fine. i would save the small rings for another use.

1-2 large vidalia onions, peeled (i used one very large onion and it was plenty)
1/2 cup, plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, divided
1 cup low-fat buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups panko breadcrumbs
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

heat oven to 450˚f. place aluminum foil on baking sheets (the recipe called for one - i needed two). coat with cooking spray or mist with oil. 

slice onion into 1/2" wide circles; carefully separate into rings, setting aside medium and large pieces; save small rings for another use. from one onion, i had 16 rings. pour 1/2 cup flour into large resealable plastic bag; add onion rings and shake to coat.

in small bowl, whisk together buttermilk, remaining flour, salt and ground pepper.

place panko in a separate small shallow bowl; add cayenne and season with kosher salt; set aside.

remove one onion from the flour; shaking and patting to remove excess flour. dip onion into buttermilk mixture to coat, turning if necessary. let excess buttermilk drip off. place onion in panko mixture and coat completely. place onion on baking sheet. repeat, one at a time, with remaining onions. coat onions well with cooking spray or oil. 

bake 1o minutes; spray onions again, place pan bake in oven, turning 180 degrees. bake 10 minutes more, or until the onions are tender and the breading is golden brown. sprinkle with kosher salt.


Lisa said...

woah--onion rings! I feel like that is so not you! They look totally amazing, though.

And good to know about this SBP.

brooke said...

i know...it's totally out of the box. you should have seen the look of shock on larry's face.

one thing i forgot to mention about sbp...if you're going to pan-fry them, after they're breaded, you should stick them in the fridge for 30 minutes to let it set. i usually just bake things, so i don't worry about it - but it's a good extra step.