Good onion rings are hard to find. All too often, the onion rings that I get at diners or from the market are over-fried. The onion has gone way beyond tender and sweet and into the stage best described as flavorless and immaterial. The breading is usually so dominating that what little flavor is left in the overcooked onion requires intense concentration to identify. Even worse are the frozen supermarket onion rings that you reheat in the oven. They either come out soggy or, if the texture is right, they taste as if they were a reconstituted bread product with onion powder flavoring. When Cook's Country Magazine published a new recipe for Oven-Fried Onion Rings involving saltines and kettle-cooked potato chips, I knew I needed to try it.
Usually, home cooked onion rings are dipped in a batter made with some mixture of milk, buttermilk, cream, sour cream, and mayonnaise then tossed in seasoned bread crumbs. The onion rings are then fried or baked. (Frying onion rings always ends up with the best results, but who wants to mess with all that frying oil unless you're already planning to fry something more substantial - like a chicken?) Baked rings have a tendency to not be crispy or crunchy and somehow lack in flavor. Cook's Country solves this problem by using a rich, seasoned batter of buttermilk, flour, and cayenne with a final coating of saltines and potato chips. I've used crushed saltines as an ingredient in a variety of dishes (my favorite being meatloaf), but never used kettle-cooked chips as a cooking ingredient (I tend to eat them before I come up with an clever ideas to cook with them - once I was going to top a casserole with some kettle-cooked chips, but found that I had consumed most of the bag already so I have to use regular potato chips). I was really looking forward to the potential flavors of this onion ring recipe.
I pulled together the ingredients I needed: 30 saltines, 4 cups kettle-cooked potato chips (I couldn't figure out how to measure 4 cups, so I used four large handfuls), 2 medium onions (cut into large 1/2-in. [1-1/4 cm] wide rings), 1/2 cup flour, 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, 1/2 cup buttermilk, and 1 large egg. [IMG]
I used a food processor to make a ground mixture of the saltines and chips. I simple dropped all the saltines and all the chips into the processing bowl and gave it ten pulses, each about one to two seconds long. [IMG]
I whisked the buttermilk with 1/4 cup flour, cayenne pepper, egg, salt, and pepper to form the batter. I then placed the onions, remaining flour, batter, and crumbs next to each other so I could form an efficient dredging, dipping, and coating pipeline. Then I turned on my oven to preheat to 450°F. [IMG]
I took each onion ring and dropped it into the flour to create a dry surface the batter could cling to. I tapped off the excess of flour and dropped the ring into the buttermilk batter. Using a fork, I lifted the ring out of the batter and allowed it to drip off the excess and then dropped it into the processed saltines and chips. Using my fingers I pressed the coating onto the ring and then transferred to a plate. I repeated for each ring. [IMG]
I poured 3 tablespoons vegetable oil onto a half sheet pan and slipped it into the hot oven and waited for eight minutes - just enough time for the oil to produce wisps of smoke. I pulled the pan out, tilted to coat the pan evenly with oil, and then placed the onion rings onto the pan making sure none of the rings were touching. I put the pan back into the oven and allowed it to bake for 8 minutes when I pulled the pan out and flipped all the rings over. Another 8 minutes in the oven and the onion rings were done.
The rings were amazing - the best oven-fried recipe I have tried to date. The coating had just the right amount of crunchiness (although not really crispy like the deep fried variety) and was full of flavor. Best of all, the onions had been cooked just to the peak of their sweetness.
I got a bag of Kettle-brand Krinkle chips, no preservatives, no trans. fat, no cholesterol, no fried neither. it's delicious. my hunsband and I like very much. we enjoy it with no high cholesterol concern. Thanks for brought up this hand cooked and oven baked potato chips.
We love orion rings or any crispy snacks, but we are afraid of eating of any oil deep fried food. Thank for the recipe and the demonstration of home oven baked onion rings.
Posted: Tue Mar 28, 2006 11:22 pm Post subject: Onion rings
I made these Sunday night. We liked them a lot....the onion itself was just nicely and perfectly cooked...good onion flavor. We too have been trying to eat better foods and fewer things fried. I'm not sure that using potato chips as part of the crust on these will actually qualify these as a better alternative....but, they still are likely to be better than fried ones in that regard.
I think I should have pulsed the crackers and chips a little finer. There were too many big chunks that stuck on the rings. It wasn't bad, but I'm thinking smaller would still be better. They had a nice crunch and were nicely browned where they were resting on the cookie sheet in the oil that was spread there.
Also, I only used one onion and did not have enough batter. Next time, I'll double the buttermilk, flour and egg for the batter....better to have too much than not enough. If you were actually trying to cook two onions, don't think it could have been done as written.
Anyway, thanks for posting this. I also made your pizza last week and it turned out great too! Keep up the good work.....you are becoming one of my favorite sites.
Posted: Fri Mar 31, 2006 7:17 am Post subject: Thanks
Never thought that you could 'fry' stuff in the oven, maybe I'd attempt to bake other deep fried items and see how it works. Thanks for the idea.
Wish you had also put the pictures of the oiled pan and/or the onions on it, just wondered how 'deep' the oil was. Since I only have small pans, I was thinking of doing a system of putting in the second pan 4 minutes after the first so that I don't have to wait too long to turn the onions.
Posted: Sun Apr 02, 2006 3:59 am Post subject: Oven Fried Onion Rings--It's a Winner
Great recipe! I made these today to go with our dinner, and we were all surprised and impressed with how good they were. The coating has just the right amount of crunch, and there's no guilt about eating deep fried onion rings. The buttermilk batter really holds the coating well and has a pleasing cayenne and black pepper bite that isn't over powering. The onions were perfectly cooked and their sweetness worked well with the slight saltiness of the coating.
One note that others may be interested in--the coating is substantial, so you may not want to apply it too thickly. (I tried different variations and found a light coating tasted best in the end--although others may disagree.)
We'll never buy those those frozen "flaked and formed" rings again. Thanks for bringing this our way.
These are really great: flavorful, good texture, and cooked just the right amount. I also appreciate the way that they avoid the classic tunnel-of-onion problem (where the onion pulls out of the coating like a handkerchief from the sleeve of a magician), though I suppose this may have something to do with the fact that I can now eat them instantly as soon as they're done. Thanks for testing and posting this recipe.
Posted: Mon May 15, 2006 3:29 am Post subject: great recipe! thanks
i lacked buttermilk and avoid eggs, so made it with fat-free half-n-half curdled with a couple tablespoons of vinegar. i also lacked potato chips so i used some oven-baked rosemary hors d'oeuvres crackers instead, haha. the rosemary is an interesting variation, but they're low-fat and have no trans fat either. not sure if i'd do the rosemary variation again but the plate of 'em sure disappeared rapidly anyway for oil, i used olive oil, which worked great and is a healthy alternative. i second the vote to make a bit more batter than is called for. the floured onion soaked it up pretty rapidly and left some areas unbattered.
Try this tip from Cooks Illustrated on their oven baked fries to get a crunchiness similar to deep frying- if you have an oil pump-aresol bottle, spray the rings after they are on the pan (or ideally both sides right after you pull the rings out of the batter) with a thin spray of oil- i prefer olive oil). Because spraying the sides evenly coats the rings with oil, you'll get crunchier rings than if you had just laid them down on a thin layer of oil.
Nonstick spray also does the trick in case there are people that prefer not to use any oil at all. (though not as well)