Families cannot live on spinach alone, so on special occasions when the boys are really good, onion rings are in order. Deep-frying in the house is kind of a messy proposition, so I thought I was a genius when I set up the electric fryer on the patio table … you might want to try the same.
I used to slice yellow or white onions for my onion rings until I met Patsy, my beloved mother-in-law. Patsy likes three things in abundance: ice, iced tea and red onions. Sometimes at lunch, I wonder why she bothers with the lettuce, but it’s just a foil for her thinly sliced red onions.
I decided I liked the pungent, less-sweet reds for crispy fried onion rings. The trick is to highly season buttermilk, then marinate fresh-cut onions for at least 24 hours in the buttermilk before dredging in flour and cornmeal, and frying.
Caution: in addition to tasting delicious, crispy fried onions will cause everyone to be silly with joy!
Red Onion Rings
2 cups buttermilk
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 medium red, onions, peeled and thinly sliced
4 cups vegetable oil
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup cornmeal, preferably coarse grind
Combine the buttermilk, sugar, salt, and black and cayenne peppers in a large bowl and mix well. Add the onions and press down to submerge. Place a plate on top to keep the onions submerged. Marinate onions in the refrigerator for 24 to 48 hours.
Combine the flour and cornmeal in a medium bowl and mix well. Dredge the soaked onions in the flour mixture to completely coat.
Fry the onions in small batches until they’re golden and crisp, about 3 to 4 minutes. Give the oil a minute to reheat between batches. Otherwise, the rings will absorb oil and become soggy.
Drain the fried onions on paper towels. Keep each batch warm in a 200°F oven until all of the onions are fried.
Makes 4 servings
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