While it may seem that spring has just sprung and fall is a long ways away, folks are already thinking about the catalyst events of the year: namely, the county fair. We just found out that the Wayne …
While it may seem that spring has just sprung and fall is a long ways away, folks are already thinking about the catalyst events of the year: namely, the county fair. We just found out that the Wayne County Fair, among others, will in fact be held this year after a hiatus during the peak of the pandemic. It was this announcement, in tandem with a minor household problem, that gave me the inspiration for this month’s recipe. As my wife and I were sitting down to enjoy some cheeseburgers for dinner, I couldn’t help but ask myself what I was going to do with all these onions that we had accrued. Earlier that day, I had picked up a few onions in anticipation of our burger dinner, only to be reminded as I arrived home that we had an entire bag of them already.
There are actually several uses for a good onion, but just one that I craved as we finished our burger dinner. Yes, sir: a good, old-fashioned onion ring. Now, it might not be as fancy as a bloomin’ onion or as savory as an Italian sausage with sautéed onions and peppers, but the right onion ring can really hit the spot.
I’ve never made onion rings before. I’d like to say I never really deep fry anything either, but this will be the third food column I’ve written that includes a deep frying recipe. Thus, I blame you, my readers, for the uptake in fried foods in my diet. I do it for you.
Joking aside, I found a recipe online on Allrecipes.com, which is notoriously helpful for finding options for recipes but somewhat inconsistent in turning out as you may hope. As a connoisseur of onion rings, let me say that my onion rings were of the utmost quality and were particularly crunchy. They were so crunchy, in fact, that they rivaled the near untouchable crunch of a fresh stick of celery!
Only making a small batch, as this recipe calls for, I decided to utilize the cast iron pan rather than our deep fryer. I also used a candy thermometer that ranged up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. The target oil temperature for this recipe—and most frying recipes, as it turns out—is 375. As a warning to those of you who, like me, have little frying experience, avoid the mistakes I first made. The first of these was overfilling the pan. Once you begin to add onion rings to the pan, your oil level will rise; if you don’t have much room to begin with, it will spill out and can cause a fire. Luckily, my wife came into the laboratory—oops, I mean kitchen—and corrected my mistake prior to full-on commitment. If you find out too late that you have done this though, just use a ladle and a metal mixing bowl to remove excess oil until you have returned your pan to a safe level. The second mistake I made was leaving the burner on high until it reached frying temperature. Only then did I lower the temp and, as a result, I overshot my target temperature, and it took me another 25 minutes to coerce it back down. I would recommend, if you are watching your thermometer as you should be, turn the heat down a bit once you reach 300 degrees.
The first thing you will want to do in your preparation is cut up your onions, of course. I like mine thick—possibly a quarter-inch to an inch. Simply cut your onion sideways to the thickness desired then separate the rings in each disc. Once these are cut and separated, toss them in your dry dredge of flour, baking powder and salt before removing to a plate or bowl. Then add your milk and egg to the dry mix and whisk until it’s an even batter. Cover your onion rings in the batter and place each one on a wire rack to drip the excess off. Once your oil is up to the proper temperature, cover your rings with breadcrumbs on a plate, tapping off the extra before dropping into the fry. A few minutes on each side should be plenty to bring them to a golden brown. Then remove and let drain on a paper towel before serving.
The way out here, we eat what makes us happy, whether it’s fair time or we just have too many onions. Regardless, it never hurts to occasionally indulge that deep-fried taste bud with a classic country treat.
1 large onion, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk, or as needed
3/4 cup dry bread crumbs
Seasoned salt to taste
1 quart oil for frying, or as needed
Heat the oil in a deep-fryer to 365 degrees. Separate the onion slices into rings and set aside. In a small bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder and salt. Dip the onion slices into the flour mixture until they are all coated; set aside. Whisk the egg and milk into the flour mixture using a fork. Dip the floured rings into the batter to coat, then place on a wire rack to drain until the batter stops dripping. The wire rack can be placed over a sheet of aluminum foil for easier clean up. Spread the bread crumbs out on a plate or shallow dish. Place rings one at a time into the crumbs, and scoop the crumbs up over the ring to coat. Give it a hard tap as you remove it from the crumbs. The coating should cling very well. Repeat with remaining rings. Deep fry the rings a few at a time for 2 to 3 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove to paper towels to drain. Season with seasoning salt, and serve.