So this tasty side dish has been a favorite of my fiance’s and mine for a while now, because in theory, what’s not to like? Make-at-home onion rings, baked instead of fried, perfect with grilled burgers and healthier than the fast-food version.
In practice, while tasty, these are not quite as effortless as Sally makes them seem. There are two logistical complications which can be deal breakers, depending on your point of view. The first is that you have to plan ahead: the onions need to be soaked in buttermilk for at least 4 hours (and she suggests a minimum of 12). So if you want to make them, you basically have to plan for it the night before.
The second is that the breading doesn’t always adhere like you hope it will. These turn out pretty tasty even if the breading isn’t perfect, so don’t let that scare you away. But do be prepared to get frustrated during the breading process. I’ve made these about three times now and still haven’t gotten it perfect, so definitely let me know if you discover the secret, but the best advice I can offer is this:
– Don’t over-beat your egg whites. I whipped them too long this time, until they turned quite white & foamy, and I don’t think I was supposed to do that. Stop when they’re just lightly foamy and they will be stickier.
– Split your bread crumb mixture into two separate bowls. I had issues with the bread crumbs absorbing liquid from the onion rings and getting gummy. The first onion rings had nice, even breading, but as the mixture got wetter, they got progressively worse. If you split it into multiple bowls, the second bowl will stay dry, and you can switch over once your first bowl is too gummed up.
As you can see from this photo, the first rings on the cookie sheet look pretty okay. Toward the end, as the breading got gloopier, I started taking the smaller, bowl-shaped onion rings and sort of packing the breading down into the middle. Like onion ring donut holes, if you will.
I sprayed everything with a healthy dose of cooking spray and baked as directed, 15 minutes on each side. Even though I was cautiously optimistic about the breading, you can see that mine did not come out as lovely and golden-brown as Sally’s. I’ll blame it on the fact that I’m still getting used to my new oven; it does run hot, and I ended up with some deeply-browned areas and some barely done at all. Next time I will try a lower temperature for a shorter time (and possibly a bit more oil), and try to get it to cook more evenly.
That said, they were still a tasty side dish, great with any dip and perfect if you need something to fit in with a summer barbecue but want to cut down on fat. Even though this batch wasn’t a total home run for me, I’d still say they’re worth a try. Sally is one of my favorite go-to recipe authors, and I usually have excellent results with her baked goods, often on the first try. For this reason, I’m willing to assume I just need to fine-tune the process a little until it turns out perfectly.
If you give it a try, let me know how it goes!
Note: if you’re cooking along with this week’s menu, you’re going to save a couple of things from this recipe. It calls for egg whites – don’t throw out the yolks! Save them in an airtight container in the fridge; they’ll be used in a fantastic brunch on Saturday.
Also, after you take the onions out of the buttermilk, don’t throw away the buttermilk! There’s a lot of oniony goodness there; save it in an airtight container in the fridge, and you can use it to make delicious savory onion-cheese biscuits later in the week. Stay tuned for that review on Friday.
Deliciousness score: 6/10
Easiness score: 6/10