As you may or may not know, I am a connoisseur (connoisseuse?) of onion rings. Wherever I find onion rings on offer, I like to try them. They vary greatly from one establishment to the next. When judging diamond rings, your friendly neighborhood jeweler will tell you to look at the Three C’s: cut, color, and clarity. For onion rings, I consider cut, crust, color, and condiments.
Cut: These rings from a local pub called the Beer Engine are cut extremely thick and wide. Many chefs seem to think this is a good idea, but it’s not my favorite way to eat them. First of all, you have to put them on a plate and cut them up. Second, they may not cook all the way through. In this case, one of the rings was a tough outer part of the onion, and that “bad” ring amounted to a quarter of the order! (Perhaps I should have sent it back, but we had already sent back an order of fried macaroni and cheese which the server brought by mistake. Yes, here in the United States, cubes of deep-fried mac and cheese are a popular pub food.)
Crust: The ideal onion ring should be encased in a light and crispy batter, with no gummy uncooked bits. Beer Engine gets points for using house-made batter instead of throwing frozen, pre-breaded rings into the oil. But making your own is tricky–too much batter or overly thick batter means it won’t cook evenly. Unfortunately, the gummy factor was a bit too high in this case.
Color: The appearance of these rings is golden brown and inviting. This is the only area where they earn top marks.
Condiments: These rings come with a basic ranch dressing, which is tasty but nothing special.
Beer Engine, you have some work to do! I recommend finer, more delicate rings, obsessive attention to the batter thickness/hot oil ratio, and a little creativity in the condiments (how about letting us choose from two kinds of aioli, or a chutney?)
For more onion rings, see here.
You’ve opened up a whole new world for me. I never thought about onions rings in that kind of detail before 😉
They are worth some extra cogitation 🙂
Now I’ve got a craving 🙂
Good with beer AND wine 🙂
A lot of things are, luckily 😉
You bring out past lives for me sometimes, Linnet. A boyfriend, a chef, who now would actually be old in addition to being an old boyfriend, showed me a trick of making great onion rings (which I do). Use white onions, soak the cut onions in cold milk for 30 minutes. The milk helps keep the onions firm during frying. Use the soaked onion milk in your batter.
That sounds like a great tip! I love the idea of using the milk in the batter. I’ve not tried making them myself because whenever I’ve deep fried anything in the past, it has been a disaster. But maybe when the weather cools I will buy a pair of safety goggles and do some alchemical experimentation with hot oil 🙂
Lisa @ cheergerm said:
Onion rings surely are a girls best friend then? Great critique LM, it is going to take me a while to get over the idea of deep fried Mac n cheese. But then Kid 1 is looking forward to our UK trip later in the year, mainly because he found out that he can try a deep fried Mars Bar in Edinburgh. Who are any of us to judge?
Oh yes, I have heard of those deep fried candy bars! One can find them here at county fairs, where fried foods rule. I’ve not tried the mac and cheese but it is one of the less exotic entries. There is even deep fried butter (I guess they freeze it first and have a good thick batter.)
And yes, give me a good onion ring over a diamond. Anytime!
What is deep fried Mac and Cheese? Hunks of the stuff breaded and fried? OMG, at 8:15 in the morning, it was hard to think about.
Yes. They chill it, cut it into cubes, bread it, and fry it. In theory it might work if the cheese got nice and gooey inside the breading. But mac and cheese is probably something you shouldn’t mess with.
the drunken cyclist said:
I am with you sister! Rings rule! I always ask when I see them on a menu if they are made in house–if not, I pass….
Haha! What’s your wine pairing?
the drunken cyclist said:
Sparkling wine for the win!
ahhh, now this is something i had never had before moving out there but i am quite partial to some 🙂 You can nearly always tell the from-frozen ones as they are suspiciously even and never really crunchy unless too dark coloured 😉
Deep-fried mac n’ cheese?? Was going to say sounds as bad as the deep-fried Mars bar 🙂 Which while i lived in Edinburgh was no-where to be found, thankfully! 😉 Although i have seen and tried some deep-fried things that i would never try again :-p
Back to the onion rings, agreed on the size! That is often the problem, i like the onions cooked inside as i don’t like them raw at all, not even in salads and i tend to pick them out even in burgers. You know which ones are my favourites so far? My local chippy (which is by the way accordingly to critics easily in the very top of fish&chips places in London!) does pickled onion rings! Devine i tell you! The tart flavour takes away from the inherent greasiness of the batter/fry combination and with tartar sauce just yum! i tend to replace the chips for my fish with those 🙂
And now i’m starving!!!
Wow–pickled onion rings sound fantastic. Are they still firm enough to keep the ring shape?
Agreed about the need for them to be fully cooked. I’ve never been much of a fan of raw onion. Maybe a bit of sweet red onion, very thinly sliced or minced.
totally, they wouldn’t be good pickles of they weren’t firm to begin with and most likely the pickled version actually withstands the heat in frying better. Hopefully you can find some around there, if not when you are back here we’ll try these 🙂
And i like red onions sliced thinly and soaked in vinegar as an ingredient in potato salad for example, yum yum 😉
Mmm, I haven’t had potato salad in a long time!
me neither, but i like the Austrian variety with vinegar rather than just mayo so have to make some myself if i want it 🙂 Plan for next week!
Wow. I had no idea! I don’t think I’ve ever even had onion rings before…
They are one of life’s little pleasures 🙂
Not sure if they are available here in the Netherlands but it looks like I will have to try them sometime!