Here are two little known facts about yours truly:
1. I’m 99.98% sure that I’ve only fried a food item once in my life.
2. I’m 100% sure that the notion of frying makes my hands clammy.
Yesterday was that fateful-frying day.
You see, traditionally, for my husband’s birthday, he chooses an outlandish dish for me to cook for his celebratory dinner. Generally, it is something outside my realm of comfort. Always, it is something extravagant.
Two years ago, he wanted filet mignon wrapped in bacon topped with lobster drenched in butter. And, despite my inability to taste it, I nervously delivered.
This year, he sweetly requested tuna tartare. Easy? Yes. Intimidating? Yes. Ultimately, I settled on a recipe that resulted in delightful little towers of lightly seasoned avocado, delicate tuna tartare, and crispy fried shallots. The shallots gave me the heart palpitations. Reigning in my nerves and wiping off my sweaty palms, I heated the oil and fried those little guys to crispy perfection.
Fact: frying still makes me nervous.
Fact: I might never fry ever again.
Fact: I am pleased to report that these onion rings don’t need a pot full of uber-hot oil to be crispy and delightful.
Fact: they satisfy fried-food-cravings without the stress (both emotional and arterial).
Oven Fried Onion Rings
Adapted from Jeff Mauro
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons paprika
1 Tbsp pink Himalayan salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 cups buttermilk
3 cups panko breadcrumbs
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 large Vidalia onions, sliced into 1/4″ thick rings
1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Place parchment paper onto 2 baking sheets and set aside.
2. In a small bowl, combine the flour, paprika,1.5 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper. In another bowl or shallow dish, whisk together the buttermilk and eggs. Add half of the flour mixture to the buttermilk and beat until smooth and thickened.
3. In a separate bowl, combine the panko, olive oil, remaining 1.5 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper.
4. Lightly dredge the onion rings in the flour mixture and then drop into the buttermilk. Drain the excess batter and then dredge in the panko mixture.
5. Arrange on the prepared baking sheets in a single layer. You can place smaller rings inside bigger rings if necessary, just make sure there is space between them. Then place in the oven. Cook until golden brown, 14 to 20 minutes. Halfway through the cooking time, flip over each onion ring to ensure even crisping and browning.
And, of course, no birthday celebration is complete without a slab of frozen yogurt cake!