Pub Night: Crispy Baked Onion Rings
That’s RIGHT. You heard me. PUB NIGHT IS IN THE HOW-UUUUSE!!!!!
(If I could do that ridiculously squeaky Gino style “a-WUH! a-WUH!” without sounding like a retarded lemur, I would totally try right now)
It’s been a while since our last installment of pub night. There’s a good reason for that. Rather than making pub food at home, I’ve been eating pub food at……pubs. Huh. Funny how that happens. That said, it has now been about two weeks since my last sojourn to the freehouse. For most people that would be, well, normal. For me? I’m practically at death’s door with pub-withdrawal. I miss the slightly damp coasters and dirty pint glasses. I’m keening for sloppy chicken wings and fiery curries. The mere thought of poutine and I start to go all weak in the knees. Oh, yes. We’re well overdue for a pub night. And if that means chugging beers at home in front of BBC kids with a mountain of homemade crispy baked onion rings? I’m down with that.
I should also mention that I’m bloody awful when it comes to portion size. Maybe this serves 4? Maybe 8? Maybe 2…. Ellie Krieger published a delicious looking potato chip crusted baked onion ring recipe recently and said that the 12-15 rings would serve 4 as a side dish. I say, not in THIS fat camp! I ate about 1/4 (on the side of a steak) and Mike ate…the other 3/4. That’s okay though, he’s training for a marathon. A RUNNING marathon. As opposed to me, of course. I’m training for the Two Liters Of Wine On A Weeknight marathon.
(I think I’ll beat him)
Crispy Baked Onion Rings
- 2 large vidalia onions *
- 1.5 cups buttermilk
- 1 large egg
- 1 heaping cup all purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp dry mustard powder
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1.5 tablespoon dried dill
- 1 tsp garlic salt
- 2.5 cups panko breadcrumbs
- 1/2 cup crappy grated parmesan from a box **
* Or your favorite sweet onions. I imagine that walla walla onions from Wisconsin would be quite delightful. However, I’ve never actually HAD walla walla onions from Wisconsin. Note: If anyone from Wisconsin wants to send me some onions, well, that would be okay I suppose……..
** You haven’t seen this side of me before, have you?! It’s not pretty, and I’m not proud. But if there’s a time and a place for crappy Kraft style grated parmesan cheese, and you’re NOT at the Olive Garden, this would be it. By the way, we don’t have any Olive Gardens around here. Do they still have those awesome breadsticks? Just…wondering….you know….
Preheat your oven to 425ºF.
Put the flour in a fairly wide, shallow dish. Add the cayenne, garlic salt, dried mustard and dill. Scruff it up with your fingers (or a whisk, if you insist on being dainty. Don’t worry, you only have about 5 minutes of daintiness left. Suck it up) until the spices are evenly dispersed.
Whisk together the buttermilk and egg. Season liberally with salt and a generous amount of freshly ground pepper.
Ah, the panko. Panko, or “Japanese bread crumbs”, have such a delightful crispy-light texture. The flakes are also rather big though, so you might (and I do) want to put them in a food processor with the parmesan and just pulse it several times. The panko should be somewhat broken up, but not as fine textured as bread crumbs.
If you don’t have a food processor, that’s even better. Put the panko in a plastic bag and whack it a few times with a rolling pin. You’ll break it up somewhat without having to worry about the mixture becoming too fine.
Put the panko/parmesan into a shallow container and add 1/3 cup of the flour mixture. Stir it with your fingers until it’s combined.
Slice the tops off of the onions and peel back the papery exterior skin. Cut each onion crosswise into thick steak house style slabs about 1/2″ thick. Discard the tops and tails of the onion.
Carefully separate the onion into layers. I would tell you to only use the biggest layers, but the wee fat little rings are my favorites. Put aside the center core of the onion though, and reserve for another use.
Dredge the rings of onion in flour.
Shake off any flour which is significantly in excess and submerge them in the eggy buttermilk mixture, before…..
…plopping them down in the panko and parmesan. Use your ‘dry’ hand to toss panko on top and around the rings, and very gently press the panko on so that it adheres.
Put the finished rings on parchment lined baking sheets. There should be about 30-36 rings in total.
You know another reason why I like to use the smaller middle-ish rings? Because I have a ridiculously tiny oven that can only cook one baking sheet per rack (SIGH). I’ll still use two sheets on two racks and rotate them halfway through, but I can fit *more* onion per sheet when I nest some of the smaller rings into the large outer rings. As long as they’re not touching you’re not doing anything wrong (if they are then they’ll cook unevenly), just making good use of space. That’s what I have to say.
Bake the rings for 25-30 minutes, rotating the pans about halfway through. The rings should be delectably fragrant and just starting to brown along the edges.
I love Ellie Krieger, I really do. But a 3 onion ring serving? I think not. THIS is a serving. and so it should be. We’re talking baked, not fried. Panko crusted, not Shake’n'Bake. When the main ingredient is onion, you’d almost feel like a jerk counting calories. And really, you know that on pub night I wouldn’t serve you anything that I wouldn’t devour myself, so there you have it.
Crispy, savory and flavorful oven baked onion rings. These are seriously snack food on crack. They’re best served immediately, but you’d be surprised how quickly a half hour goes by, when at the end you’ve abandoned ketchup and instead are dunking in sour cream, turkey gravy, and any other viscous liquid which happens to pass your way. Because really, THAT’S what pub night love is all about. Reckless (baked) abandon, here I come!