Yep, they tell me they are still talking about the onion rings. Introduced to Mark and ‘the redhead’ about 5 years ago, these onion rings are a staple in our celebratory repertoire. If there is a special event where Mark is the focus, you can be sure that I’ll be in charge of the onion rings. And rightly so.
I saw a simple batter recipe about a million years ago in a magazine or newspaper, had the urge to try it, and the rest is history. Imagine the light and crispy canned French’s onion rings you put on top of a green bean casserole. Now, imagine them hot, fresh and just sprinkled with salt. Imagine piles of them. Put them on your burger, dip them in ketchup, just eat them! Fast, before everyone else catches on.
There is no doubt that the batch made for Mark’s party the other night turned out really well because of my portable deep fryer. Turning these rings in a saute pan takes a bit too much attention. If you don’t have a little fryer, just use a fairly deep, but narrow sauce pan and place about 3″ of canola or vegetable oil in the pan. The optimal temperature for deep frying is between 350 and 360 degrees. Less than 350 and the food will absorb too much fat and taste greasy. Hotter than 360, the exterior will cook too quickly, leaving the interior undercooked. This may sound too precise for some, but using a candy/deep fry thermometer makes the process simple. A sample onion ring tossed into the hot oil should also give you the clue as to whether the oil is hot enough to begin. The food should start bubbling the second it’s dropped into the oil.
Add enough of the food (other vegetables coated in this batter fry up nicely too), to make your batches efficient, but keep in mind the temperature of the oil will drop with each addition, causing the cooking process to slow down. Give the rings room to swim.
Another tip is to salt them as soon as they come out of the oil, but not before. Salt is one of a few things that will cause the oil to break down. You might want to experiment with some salt and pepper combinations to jazz your rings up even more. Maybe a bit of cayenne or chipotle, smoked paprika, or even a bit of cinnamon and sugar. Ooh, deep fried sweet potato fries with chipotle, cinnamon and sugar… a story for another day.
One last thing before we start; plan ahead. The batter is easy, but it takes a while to rest before it’s ready.
Mark’s Favorite Onion Rings
- 1 cup beer
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 2 sweet onions, such as vidalia or mayan sweets
- canola or vegetable oil
- salt and pepper
Pour the beer over the flour in a small bowl; stir with a whisk until smooth. Allow the batter to rest for 4 hours. This gives the gluten in the flour time to develop. Slice the onion into rings about 1/4 to 1/3 inch thick and place in large, open bowl. Pour the rested batter over the onion rings, gently mixing to coat. The rings can stay in the batter for a while before you cook them.
Heat the oil to 350-360 degrees. Drop a sample ring in the oil and cook until golden brown. Remove to a platter that is lined with paper towels or brown grocery bags. Salt and/or season as soon as the rings are removed from the oil so that the salt will adhere. Cool slightly before eating.
If you are working in small batches, line a baking sheet with additional paper towels and keep in a 200 degree oven while the remaining rings are frying.
Caution: if you and your guests beginning nibbling before the bulk of the rings are fried, you won’t have enough rings to add to the dinner table.