Aug 6, 2013

crunchy baked onion rings

Several weeks ago we went to our city's Rib Burnoff.  The annual event on the square includes live music, various booths to visit and LOTS of ribs.  As you know, hubs and I don't eat ribs.  So why would we go?  For the other food, of course!  You know the sugary lemonade and the greasy fried veggies.  We usually get fried broccoli and cauliflower or simply french fries, but this year my parents and husband got a blooming onion.  I've never really liked onion rings or really anything fried besides potatoes, so my expectations were obviously pretty low.  The blooming onion, though, got me hooked at first bite.  I ate way more blooming onion that afternoon than I would like to admit.

So, I decided to try to learn to make a healthier version.  The excess onion from the last several weeks of Fresh Fork shares have been adding up quickly.  It was time to put a recipe to the test.  This one's a winner.  Not only are they easy to make, but they're also very satisfying.  It's not quite city fair blooming onion, but for a small fraction of the calories it's pretty darn close!

Crunchy Baked Onion Rings
Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart
Serves 2-3

  • 2 slices of bread or about 1/2 c breadcrumbs (I used whole wheat)
  • 1 1/2 c corn cereal (original recipe called for cornflakes, but I used corn Chex)
  • 1/2 c buttermilk (or make your own with milk and vinegar; see below)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 c flour
  • a chookie chookie of cayenne pepper, salt and pepper
  • 1 medium sweet onion
  • olive oil, used sparingly
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  Roughly tear the bread into pieces and place it on a baking sheet.  Bake until it's medium brown, but not burnt.  Remove the baking sheet from the oven, leaving the oven on, and let the bread cool.  Once the bread is cool, place it in a food processor with the corn cereal and process it until they're a fine crumb.  Divide the breadcrumb mixture onto two plates.  Dividing the mixture will make the coating process easier by avoiding ruining an entire batch when it gets clumpy.

In a medium bowl, pour in the buttermilk.  If you don't have buttermilk, you can replace it with 1 tbsp white vinegar and 1/2 c minus 1 tbsp milk.  If you're making your own buttermilk, let it sit for a few minutes before continuing to allow the vinegar and milk to work its magic.  To the buttermilk, add the egg, flour and cayenne pepper, salt and pepper and whisk it all together.  You may have a few small clumps left in the end, which is fine.

Cut the onion in half so you can see the rings.  Cut each half once again in the same direction.  You should end up with onion quarters.  Carefully separate the rings.

Prepare your baking sheet by slightly greasing it or just use a silicon baking mat.  One at a time, dip the onion rings into the wet mixture, coat them with the dry mixture, and place them on the prepared baking sheet.  Continue until all of the onion rings are done.  You'll end up with some little extra pieces that you can either coat or discard.  Lightly spray/sprinkle the onion rings with a little bit of olive oil to add to the crunch.  Bake them for about 15 minutes, until they're lightly browned.  Serve with your favorite dipping sauce.

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