Baked Onion Rings

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Who wants to turn on the oven when the temperature is threatening triple digits and the humidity makes it feel like a sauna outside even after the sun goes down? I do, if it means making these onion rings. Because they are totally worth it.

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I like saving the best things on my plate for last, and the onion rings always get eaten after the sandwich. So forget meal-planning around the entrée—I have made these onion rings probably oh 5 or 6 times in the last month, and I’ve been doing the grocery shopping according to What Goes With Onion Rings Besides Regular Burgers. Shrimp rolls? Check. Turkey burgers? Check. Patty melts? Check.

IMG_8370The main reason the onion rings are baked and not fried is (confession) I’ve never deep-fried anything in my life and the thought of it kind of terrifies me. Dropping food into a vat of scalding hot oil just sounds like an awesome way for me to get annoyed at trying to maintain the proper temperature, set off the smoke detector / scare the crap out of the dog, and inevitably burn myself with spattering. Coordination isn’t my strong suit, and although I’m pretty adept at quickly jumping out the way when I accidentally drop the chef’s knife that I was holding two seconds ago (it was just in my hand! how did it fall out?!) (this seriously happens about once a week), deep-frying presents a new and uncharted territory of ways to injure myself.

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Coating the inside first and then pressing more to the outside helps avoid gloopiness.

Also, I generally try to keep home-cooked meals on the healthier side. I mean, let’s not totally fool ourselves—these onion rings are still cooked in a slick of oil that I wouldn’t call “scant,” and we’ve basically taken a plain vegetable and beefed it up with a nice layer of refined carbs. But rich food is more enjoyable to me when I don’t know the details about what all is in it. I’ll gladly take French fries, hollandaise sauce, and milkshakes when I’m eating out, but I’d rather not make them at home because then I can’t be as blissfully ignorant about exactly how much oil / butter / ice cream went into them.

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Ready for the oven.

So, I tried making these baked onion rings after deciding that getting an occasional fix with the fried kind from the dive bar up the street just wasn’t cutting it. I wanted a non-fried version I could make at home. I was lucky and they turned out pretty great on the first attempt. Now all I have to do is figure out what sandwich to accompany them next… Tuna melt anyone?

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Note: Use peanut oil like it says. It has a high smoke point and won’t burn easily. Also use a yellow onion like it says. I tried sweet onion and it turned out too mushy, and the yellow onion completely mellows out with cooking. I’ve never tried making more than 2 servings of these at once since I am usually just cooking for myself and my husband, but I imagine that you could double it pretty easily and use 2 baking sheets, rotated halfway through.



Baked Onion Rings

serves 2

  • 2 Tbsp. peanut oil
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion (cut crosswise)
  • 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 c. plain dry unseasoned breadcrumbs
  • scant 1/4 tsp. table salt
  • 1/4 tsp. sweet paprika
  • 1/8 tsp. onion powder
  • generous pinch of garlic powder
  • a few grinds of fresh black pepper
  1. Pour the oil onto a medium baking sheet. (The more tarnished and darker, the better.) Place in the oven, turn the oven to 375°, and let the pan and oil get hot while you prep everything else.
  2. Cut the onion crosswise into 1/2″ slices and separate out the rings. I usually get 2 slices out of half an onion, and it makes plenty of rings for 2 people.
  3. Place the flour in a bag. (I use a plastic grocery store bag.) Add the onion rings and shake until evenly coated.
  4. Place the egg in a shallow bowl and whisk to blend.
  5. Place the breadcrumbs and all of the rest of the ingredients (salt through pepper) into a different shallow bowl and stir to blend.
  6. Take one flour-coated onion ring and throughly coat it with the beaten egg, then thoroughly coat it with the breadcrumb mixture. (This part is kind of a pain, but starting with the bigger rings—while there are more crumbs—seems to help. I also find it easiest to use my left hand for the egg part and my right hand for the breadcrumb part.) Place the prepared ring on a cutting board.
  7. Continue step 6 until all of the rings are coated.
  8. Using an oven mitt! remove the hot pan from the oven. Use a spatula to spread the oil around evenly. Place the onion rings on the pan, return to the oven, and bake for about 6-8 minutes. Flip, turn the heat up to 400°, and bake for another 6-8 minutes. Enjoy immediately.
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Smoky Roasted Broccoli

 

Lesson learned: It's hard to make cooked broccoli look appealing.

Lesson learned: It’s hard to make cooked broccoli look appealing.

I consider myself lucky to have a husband who likes cooking and is good at it. We take turns cooking dinner on a weekly basis, and sometimes we argue about whose week it is because we both have recipes picked out that we want to try. But I can’t really get annoyed because my husband is insisting that it’s his turn to cook. Or complain if we eat late because he’s perfecting his pepperoni pan pizza with a home-made crust. Or get grumbly because I have to fit into a dress for a friend’s wedding in a couple of weeks and he made some amazing short ribs and mashed potatoes that I’m having a hard time resisting seconds of. Unfortunately, not whining has never been my strong suit, but honestly, our sharing of dinner duty is a pretty great situation.

The only real problem happens if one of us doesn’t check the fridge very well before we go grocery shopping, because sometimes we buy produce that we already have. This is how we ended up with two large bunches of broccoli this past week. Fortunately, I have a new favorite way to prepare broccoli.

I first tried making broccoli like this after having a something similar in a restaurant while traveling over the summer. It was tender but still had some tooth, and it was a little charred—in the good way— in some spots. I think only the florets were served in the restaurant, but in my version, I use the whole broccoli: both the crowns and the stems.

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I haven’t fully embraced the “crisp-tender” phenomenon for vegetable cooking, because sometimes they still taste raw to me. If I want that sort of flavor, I’ll probably just eat the raw vegetable. And I’ll admit I’m not averse to Southern-style, cooked-til-they’re-army-green vegetables. For this recipe, I wouldn’t call anything crisp, but nothing is mushy. The stems are first cooked separately from (and for significantly longer than) the florets, so that they take on a texture like most any other roasted winter vegetable. The florets are steamed/boiled for a very short time, and then seasoned. I use powdered onion and garlic, which I tend to avoid, but they work well here, plus they’re simple. Smoked paprika is also added, and let’s be honest, smoked paprika makes everything better. It is like the bacon of spices. Finally, everything gets put under the broiler for a few minutes, until the florets get just a little bit blackened.


 

Note: My bunch of broccoli yielded about 1 1/2 cups of stems and 5 cups of florets. You might want to add more or less seasoning and/or olive oil depending on how big your bunch is. Also, I cook the florets in a small amount of water in a covered pan because it’s quick, easy, and there are fewer dishes to wash, but you could also steam them in a steamer basket. 

 

Smoky Roasted Broccoli

serves 3-4

  • 1 large bunch broccoli
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, divided
  • 1/8 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/8 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp. smoked paprika
  • freshly ground pepper to taste
  1. Preheat the oven to 400º.
  2. Trim and peel the broccoli stems, then chop into about 1/3″ chunks, discarding any tough or woody pieces. I start cutting from the part of the stem that was closest to the crown, and if I reach a part where my knife stops slicing easily, I don’t use the rest. Toss the chopped stems with 1 Tbsp. of the olive oil and 1/4 tsp. of the kosher salt. Add fresh pepper to taste. Spread onto a baking pan and roast in the middle rack for about 20 minutes, or until nicely browned. Stir every 5 minutes or so. While the stems roast, prepare the broccoli crowns.
  3. Cut the crowns into florets. Fill a medium saucepan with water to about 1/2″ depth and bring it to a boil. Add the florets, cover, shake a couple of times, and cook until tender. This will happen very quickly, in only about 3 minutes, maybe fewer if you like your broccoli on the crisper side. Drain the broccoli well, then place it in a bowl and toss it with the onion powder, garlic powder, smoked paprika, remaining 1 Tbsp. olive oil, and remaining 1/4 tsp. kosher salt. Add freshly ground pepper to taste.
  4. After the stems have finished roasting, remove the pan from the oven, crank the heat up to broil, and put a rack directly under the broiler. Spread the seasoned florets in the pan with the stems. Once the broiler has preheated, place the pan back in the oven for a few minutes, until the florets have just started to blacken. This took about 6 minutes in my oven. Remove from the oven and adjust seasoning if needed. Serve hot.