The Creation of Mouthwatering Cornmeal Onion Rings

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Onion rings – the oft overlooked cousin of the French fry.  A staple ‘substitute’ offering at many food establishments, this crunchy-sweet side-dish/appetizer/indulgent-snack deserves more credit than it receives.  I mean here we have an onion.  When left uncooked, they are pungent and tear-inducing, a pantry staple but not served raw save to garnish a sandwich.  However when they are bathed in buttermilk, blanketed in flour, spices and crispy cornmeal and fried to a golden brown, they become sweet and tender, absolutely pleasant and so pleasing it is impossible to stop with one ring.

This breading is light, just barely clothing the onion, sliding up against it just so while still letting it be the star of the show.  The onion wears the breading here and isn’t left lonely, sitting inside a cavernous fried shell as in alternative preparations.  This is my preferred style of onion ring and I adapted my recipe using Ina Garten’s version as a base.  A little extra cornmeal and some of my go-to spices later, and the batter is taken up a notch.
An indulgent side-dish and welcome change of pace from the to-be-expected French fry, these onion rings hit the spot time and time again.  Enjoy!

Begin by slicing a large vidalia onion into 1/2 inch thick rounds.  Gently separate the layers of the onion into individual rings.  Pour two cups buttermilk, one and one half tsp kosher salt and one half tsp freshly ground black pepper into a bowl.  Add the onions and toss to coat.  Allow to marinate for at least thirty minutes or up to two hours.

While the onions are marinating prep the breading, a flavorful combination of one and one quarter cups all purpose flour, one half cup cornmeal, one tbs cumin, one and one half tsp cayenne, one tbs garlic powder, one tsp kosher salt and one tsp freshly ground black pepper.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees and heat the oil for frying.  Fill a heavy bottom pot with canola oil until three inches deep.  Heat to 375 degrees.  Toss half of the onion rings in the cornmeal batter.  Set out a sheet pan and line with paper towels.

Working in batches, carefully lower the breaded rings into the oil and fry for two to three minutes until golden.  Carefully remove the onions from the oil and place them on the sheet pan.  Sprinkle with kosher salt and place the pan in the oven.

Bring the oil temperature back up to 375 degrees.  Add the second batch of onions and cook for two-three minutes.  Drain on the pan with paper towels and sprinkle with kosher salt.  Serve warm with ketchup – for me there is just no other way.  Enjoy!

Adapted from Ina Garten’s recipe for Cornmeal Fried Onion Rings
One Large Onion Serves Two-Three

  • one large vidalia onion
  • two cups buttermilk,
  • one and one half tsp kosher salt
  • one half tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • one and one quarter cups all purpose flour
  • one half cup cornmeal
  • one tbs cumin
  • one and one half tsp cayenne
  • one tbs garlic powder
  • one tsp kosher salt
  • one tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • five cups canola oil
Begin by slicing a large vidalia onion into 1/2 inch thick rounds.  Gently separate the layers of the onion into individual rings.  Pour two cups buttermilk, one and one half tsp kosher salt and one half tsp freshly ground black pepper into a bowl.  Add the onions and toss to coat.  Allow to marinate for at least thirty minutes or up to two hours.
While the onions are marinating prep the breading by combining items five through eleven in a large bowl.  Stir until well mixed.
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees and heat the oil for frying.  Fill a heavy bottom pot with canola oil until three inches deep.  Heat to 375 degrees.  Toss half of the onion rings in the cornmeal batter.  Set out a sheet pan and line with paper towels.
Working in batches, carefully lower the breaded rings into the oil and fry for two to three minutes until golden.  Carefully remove the onions from the oil and place them on the sheet pan.  Sprinkle with kosher salt and place the pan in the oven.
Bring the oil temperature back up to 375 degrees.  Add the second batch of onions and cook for two-three minutes.  Drain on the pan with paper towels and sprinkle with kosher salt.  Serve warm.
Lindsey McClave
Lindsey McClave has a deep love for food, wine and travel. While she has no intentions of becoming a chef or a sommelier and doesn't consider herself an expert in any culinary area, she is obsessed with learning.

She says, "the one thing I've taken away from my wine travels is that wine is meant for everyone - rich, poor, and everywhere in-between.” Whatever cooking becomes to you, she encourages you to find that foodie place, embrace it and run with it.
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