Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Lord of the Onion Rings

We can help you on your quest to serve sweet rings at home

By Chuck Martin
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[IMAGE] Gabe Wainscott, owner of the Greyhound Tavern, is Lord of the Onion Rings.
(Brandi Stafford photo)
Would a hobbit munch an onion ring?

Probably. Probably several. We don't know that much about the eating habits of Frodo, Bilbo and their big-footed little friends, but J.R.R. Tolkien makes it clear in his Lord of the Rings trilogy that hobbits have a healthy appetite.

So they'd surely love a heaping plate of battered and fried sweet onion rings ready for dunking in ketchup.

And so will the folks gathered at your house for Sunday's Academy Awards who come to cheer on the hobbits, elves and the rest of the fantasy heroes in Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, which is nominated for 11 Oscars.

Serving onion rings at this year's Oscar parties is a natural. Thing is, though, if you want the best rings, you'll have to make them. Greyhound Tavern and several other restaurants make fine onion rings. But takeout is not a good option. This is one snack that tastes best - some may argue is only edible - soon after they're pulled from the hot oil.

But frying your own rings is not that difficult. Only a few ingredients and a little expertise is required, and you can make them taste like magic. We'll show you how to be Lord of the Onion Rings. Your biggest problem may be getting out of the kitchen to see the awards show.


Greyhound Tavern's Onion Rings

Large sweet onions, such as Spanish


Salt and white pepper, to taste


Vegetable oil for frying

Cut ends off onions and remove peel and any layers that look green. Cut onions crosswise into thick slices (1 1/2 to 2 inches). Break slices into rings and remove any thin skin clinging to onion. Reserve and refrigerate smaller onion slices for another use. Set onion rings aside.

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Place flour in wide bowl or pie tin and season generously with salt and pepper. Pour buttermilk into wide bowl.

Dip onion rings into buttermilk then dredge in seasoned flour, shaking off excess. (If flour doesn't cling well, dip rings into buttermilk again, then into flour.) Place floured onion rings on plate (Place wax paper between layers of rings.) Refrigerate floured rings at least 15 minutes before frying.

Preheat oil to 375 degrees. Fry onion rings 3 to 5 minutes until golden brown. Turn rings with tongs to ensure even browning. Remove rings with slotted spatula and drain on paper towels. Add more salt, if needed. Keep warm in low oven until serving.

Note: Spice up your onion rings by adding Cajun spices or other seasonings to flour before dredging.

Bangkok-to-Bali Beer Battered Onion Rings

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

1 cup full-bodied beer

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon cayenne

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

Oil for deep-frying

3 large eggs, beaten

3 large onions, sliced 1/4-inch thick and separated into rings

Place flour, beer, salt, chili powder, cayenne and coriander in bowl and whisk or beat until smooth. For extra-crispy texture, let batter stand 30 minutes before using.

Preheat oil to 375 degrees.

Place beaten eggs in another dish. Put as many onion rings as possible into dish with eggs. Using meat fork or tongs, left onion ring out of eggs and dredge it through beer batter. Carefully drop battered ring into hot oil and fry until golden brown, turning once, about 3 minutes. Repeat with remaining onion rings.

Remove fried rings with slotted spatula to drain on paper towels. Add more salt if necessary and serve warm.

From Bangkok to Bali in 30 Minutes (Harvard Common Press; $14.95)

Dips (besides ketchup)

• Cocktail sauce

• Honey mustard

• Ranch dressing

• Blue cheese dressing

• Ketchup mixed with Sri Racha Hot Sauce (also called Rooster Sauce, available in Asian groceries)

• Citrus Sambal (recipe follows)

Citrus Sambal

1/2 cup orange marmalade

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons grapefruit juice

1 teaspoon sambal oelek* or Tabasco sauce

Heat marmalade in small non-stick skillet over low heat, stirring often, until it begins to soften and melt, about 1 minutes. Add grapefruit juice and stir until smooth. Turn off heat and add the sambal or Tabasco and mix well. Transfer to small serving bowl. Makes about 2/3 cup.

*Sambal oelek is an Indonesian chili paste available in Asian groceries.

From Bangkok to Bali in 30 Minutes (Harvard Common Press; $14.95)

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