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the pursuit of crispiness

Recipe: onion rings

We’ve had a short dry spell of windy, sunny days this week which makes a powder hound whimper and cry. But lack of powder merely means it is high time to hit the Nordic trails. What I love about the network of Nordic trails at our local hill (Eldora) is that they are forested and thus protected from those notorious winds that batter us from October to May. Clouds race across the sky throughout the day, giving us a shot at some nice displays come sunset if the clouds and the sun are in the right place at the right time.

things that make you smile

skate skiing in a hall of trees

Neva had such a fun time at doggy day care on Tuesday that she was sacked out all of Tuesday night and most of Wednesday day. She curled up in her dog bed while I worked – dozing away or lazily watching me. Each time I walked past her, I would cover her with her blankie (Kaweah’s old blanket), add a toy for her to play with, or feed her a treat. Neva was feeling loungy and enjoying it. I enjoyed it, too!

she is still a baby puppy to me

I’m feeling peppier these days and I realized it’s because the sun is setting later. I know this because our living room lamp timer was last set to come on when it got dark – around 4:30 in late December. Now, it clicks on while daylight is still spilling into our house. It also means Chinese new year is on the horizon. This year, it starts February 8, requiring all of the preparation and cleaning to be done by February 7 – lunar new year’s eve. February 7 is also the Superbowl, which means very little to me other than empty ski slopes Sunday afternoon. But the Superbowl is one of those events that even the non-sportsball fans can enjoy because there are gatherings full of sportsball party foods.

One such staple would have to be the onion ring. Make that a beer-battered onion ring. I have been searching lo these many years for a good onion ring recipe and I finally found one – from the Food Lab at Serious Eats.

onions, cornstarch, beer, paprika, baking powder, baking soda, salt, flour, vodka

A key to J. Kenji López-Alt’s foolproof onion rings is to remove the thin inner membrane of each onion ring. This helps to keep the onion tender on the inside and ensures that the onion breaks with each bite instead of snaking out of the fried batter when you first bite into it. The easiest way to get rid of the membrane is to freeze the onion slices, thaw them in lukewarm water, and pull the membrane away.

separate the rings

freeze for an hour or up to a month

thaw in lukewarm water

the membrane should peel right off

You can start heating the frying oil in a wide pot or wok while you peel the onion rings. To make the batter, mix the dry ingredients (except the salt) together in a bowl. In a liquid measuring cup, combine the beer and vodka. Slowly stir the liquid into the flour mixture until you get a batter thick enough to leave a ribbon when drizzled on itself.

whisk the dry ingredients together

combine the vodka and beer

stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients

Now you’re ready to dip and fry. You’ll probably need to work in batches since it’s unlikely you can fry all of the rings in one go. I did mine in three batches. Dip each ring into the batter, let any excess drip off, then carefully lower it into the oil. I found that using my fingers was easiest as I let the bottom half of the onion ring submerge in the oil before I let go. This helped to avoid any splashing of hot oil. Fry for a couple of minutes before flipping the rings and frying another two minutes until the batter is golden brown. I drained mine on a cooling rack to maintain a crisp exterior, but you can set them on paper towels to soak up excess oil. If you want to keep the onion rings warm while the rest of the batches cook, pop them in a warm oven (200°F) until you are ready to serve them.

onion rings at the ready



season with salt

I’ve sampled many an onion ring and I have to say that these are as good as the best of them. The outside is crisp, delicate, and nicely flavored. The inside is tender and sweet. The big surprise was how much Jeremy liked them (and ate them up). He has always favored fries over onion rings, but he really enjoyed the taste and texture of these beauties. So if you’re looking for a winning party food or just an exceptional snack for yourself, this recipe is the perfect onion ring.

party is served

a classic combination

Onion Rings
[print recipe]
from The Food Lab at Serious Eats

2 large onions, cut into 1/2-inch thick rounds
2 qts. peanut oil
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp paprika
3/4 cup light-flavored beer, cold
1/4 cup 80-proof vodka
kosher salt

Separate the onion slices into individual rings and place them all in a large ziploc bag. Freeze the onions for at least an hour (but no more than 1 month). Remove the onions from the freezer and place the rings in a large bowl to thaw under lukewarm running water. Pat the rings dry with paper towels and peel away the inner membrane of each ring.

Heat the oil to 375°F (350°F for my elevation at 8500 ft.) in a wide vessel like a wok or a Dutch oven (I use a wide stock pot). Whisk the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and paprika together in a medium mixing bowl. Combine the beer and the vodka in a liquid measuring cup. Slowly whisk the beer mixture into the flour mixture until the batter leaves a trail if drizzled on itself. You might not use up all of the liquid. A few small lumps in the batter are okay. Dip an onion ring into the batter. Let the excess batter drip off and then lower the onion into the hot oil, releasing it before you burn your fingers. Repeat for a third of the onion rings. Let the onion rings fry for about 2 minutes. Flip the rings and let them fry another 2 minutes until they are a deep golden brown. Remove them to a cooling rack to drain. Toss the rings in a bowl with salt. Fry the rest of the onions in batches. Keep the onion rings warm on a rack set on a rimmed baking sheet in a 200°F oven until you are ready to serve them. Serve hot (immediately). Serves 4.

more goodness from the use real butter archives

fried pickles with green goddess aioli fried stuffed olives fried fennel slices fried lemon slices

12 nibbles at “the pursuit of crispiness”

  1. Kristin says:

    Gosh, you made me laugh with your non-sportsball fans and sportsball party foods. That is just so me. And you should’ve heard our non-sportsball fan daughter describing a football huddle while we played Taboo recently. These look and sound delicious!

  2. Katrina says:

    Your onion rings really so look crispy and fabulous!! I can’t wait to try them out!

  3. Jasmine says:

    Wow, great photos! You can see the texture and translucency of the rings and I can even “taste” in my mind how crunchy its gonna be! But, no deep frying for me so I will just enjoy vicariously thru your blog.

  4. thekitchwitch says:

    Ohmigawww! I love onion rings more than just about anything. So much so that I will actually fry in the house, which I am never willing to do. I never knew the trick about the onion membrane–that’s genius. Thanks, Jen!

  5. Joyce says:

    Now if I just had a good recipe for really great french fries. My Hubby loves both Onion Rings and French Fries. Cannot wait to try these. We buy great subs and bring them home and he loves for me to make the fries. Onion rings will make him REALLY happy! Thanks.

  6. Jane M says:

    I absolutely love onion rings but have as of yet to find a good recipe and always end up disappointed. That this comes from Serious Eats is a good endorsement to me. I look forward to making a batch very soon. Thank you so very much.

  7. Jill Hyde says:

    TPH started drooling when I showed him the finished plated out rings! He loves onion rings, and yours look perfect.
    I forget WHY the house has to be clean just prior to the New Year…I’m sure for good health or luck or something. xo, jill
    ps- those are definitely Neva’s colors!

  8. Barb R. says:

    These do look delicious. What was really interesting to me was the membrane on the rings – who knew? l

  9. farmerpam says:

    That picture of Neva is too cute!! And freezing the onion rings to remove the membrane, who knew? Thanks for the tip.

  10. Sharon says:

    I love your approach to cooking and your beautiful photos! Quick question: what do you do with your leftover oil after deep frying? Thank you very much!

  11. jenyu says:

    Kristin – even if we aren’t sportsball fans, I’m sure we all know SOMEONE who is :)

    Katrina – hope they worked out for you! I always thought they’d be such a greasy mess, but this method is pretty good.

    Jasmine – :)

    thekitchwitch – not my genius, babe! Thank J Kenji Alt-Lopez!

    Joyce – I love (good) french fries more than anything, but have yet to tackle that one, yet. Will post if I do!

    Jane M – you’re welcome!

    Jill – I think the thinking is that cleaning the house after the New Year sweeps the luck away.

    Barb – I know! I didn’t know it could make a difference.

    farmerpam – :)

    Sharon – oh, the oil… That has been my second biggest reason for not frying (the first is the clean up). So, I have several large empty containers of vegetable oil (thanks, Costco) and will designate some for reuse and others for recycle. Reusable oil is vegetable oil that hasn’t been heavily flavored and/or used once. I filter it through a fine-mesh sieve before storing it in one of those containers. The oil that has been used a couple of time or has a strong flavor to it (frying seafood, etc.) gets filtered into containers for recycling. Boulder County has a WONDERFUL recycling program for hard-ro-recycle items like cell phones, electronics, and yes – vegetable oil! They recycle it to make biodiesel, which is awesome. So I will do a massive recycling of vegetable oil once a year. Hopefully you can find something similar where you live!

  12. Rocky Mountain Woman says:

    I am certainly going to try these for Super Bowl Sunday.

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