Saturday, July 7, 2012

Oven Baked Onion Rings with Aioli

"Vie-dail-ya Unyuns" - that would be Southern for Vidalia Onions, patron saint of Vidalia, Georgia, the sweet onion that only deigns to bless us with its presence for a brief but glorious time during the early summer. Grab them while you can and probably not from your farmers' market unless you're living far south of the Maxon Dixon line.

I spent three years in Atlanta as an undergrad and was "schooled" in the treasures of Vidalias, and have faithfully searched them out where ever I was living ever since. They are sweet and crisp without the stinging acidity of white or yellow onions. Here I baked them a la Post Punk Kitchen's advice and enjoyed them with some homemade aioli!

If you are a novice breader, get over it and make some breaded food! Breaded anything is so good, regardless if it is pan-fried, deep-fried or baked. All the good stuff can be breaded and making it at home ensures not only control over the ingredients (as opposed to what you'll get at a restaurant) but also bragging rights to some of the best food people will taste out of your kitchen!

Do follow this recipe to a T in terms of the ingredients, but keep an eye on the rings when they're baking. Either my stove is not running very hot or Isa Chandra's is superhot and fast. I needed to cook these an additional 10 minutes to get them as tender crisp so that they didn't still have that raw edge to them. I also ignored Isa Chandra's recommendation of only using the large rings since I am selfish and wanted as much baked crusted Vie-dail-ya Unyun goodness as I could get. This meant doubling the bread crumbs to accommodate the extra onions.

A word on breading techniques. Do lay everything out on your counter/work space so that you have a bowl of batter, then a bowl of crumbs followed by your baking sheet. Have additional crumbs at the ready should you begin to run out. Keep your hands separate; left hand dips onion in batter and carefully drops into breadcrumbs without touching them, and right hand scoops bread crumbs over battered onion without touching batter. This ensures that your fingertips do not begin to look like battered mozzarella sticks and make the process go more smoothly!

Oven Baked Onion Rings with Homemade Aioli
(serves 4-6)

2 large Vidalia Onions
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 tablespoons corn starch
1 cup cold almond milk
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
2 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
2 teaspoons kosher salt
4 teaspoons olive oil
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Slice off ends of onions and peel only the thin outside layer to ensure you get as much onion as possible. Slice onions into 3/4 inch thick rings. Separate the rings and set aside. Mix flour and cornstarch and 1/2 cup of the almond milk in a large measuring cup and stir well to blend, either using a whisk or a fork to break up all of the flour and the cornstarch. Pour into a bowl large enough to accommodate the onion rings but deep enough so that the batter is at least 2 inches deep. Add remaining almond milk and blend well. Set aside. In another bowl mix together the bread crumbs and salt and then drizzle in olive oil and use your fingertips to combine well; it will be similar to coarse cornmeal. Pour breadcrumbs into a shallow soup bowl.

Next, set up your breading assembly line.  From left to right, have the onions, the flour mixture, the breadcrumbs mixture and lastly the baking sheet. Using your left hand, dip each onion slice into the the batter, letting the excess drip off. Place the ring in the breadcrumbs and with your left hand scoop crumbs all over the ring, turning it without touching the battered places. Place on your baking sheet and repeat with remaining rings. Spray rings lightly with cooking spray and bake for 8 minutes. Flip, and bake another 6 minutes. Rings should be varying shades of brown and crisp. Taste one to check for doneness. Pop back in the onion for 4-6 minutes to ensure tender onion doneness. Serve immediately with Aioli. Although not ideal, you can reheat them under the broiler for 3-4 minutes to warm them up again if you do not finish them off (whaatt??) in the first sitting .


Recipes currently inspiring me:

Red Cabbage, Carrot Cilantro Slaw at Garden of Eating
Skillet Tortilla Pizza at Simply Recipes
Ancho Corn Chowder at Vegan Dad


Pam said...

This sounds intriguing!

katiez said...

What I miss about Spain is they offer ailoi with fries and onion rings all the time. Love onion rings!

katiez said...

Oops - that should have been either allioli or aioli.... But you knew that.