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Beer-Battered Onion Rings

You can serve these classic onion rings in their time-honored role: alongside a juicy cheeseburger or riding atop a grilled steak. But they are also a winning appetizer, especially when accompanied with a pint of cold, frothy beer. Sweet Vidalia onions, which are mellower than yellow onions, are a particularly tasty choice.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup cake flour  
  • 1 large egg  
  • Fine sea salt 
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper  
  • 3/4 cup lager beer  
  • 2 large Vidalia or yellow onions (about 1 pound total weight) 
  • Canola oil for deep-frying 
  • Ketchup for serving (optional) 

Directions:

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, egg, 1/2 tsp. salt and the cayenne pepper until blended. Add the beer and whisk just until combined. Do not worry if the batter has a scattering of lumps. Let stand for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, cut the onions into thick rounds, and separate the rounds into rings. Pour oil to a depth of at least 3 inches into a large, heavy saucepan and heat over high heat to 350°F on a deep-frying thermometer. Preheat an oven to 200°F. Set a large wire rack on a rimmed baking sheet and place near the stove.

In batches to avoid crowding, dip the onion rings into the batter to coat, letting the excess batter drip back into the bowl, and carefully add to the hot oil. Deep-fry until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Using a wire skimmer, transfer to the rack and keep warm in the oven while you fry the remaining onion rings.

Transfer the onion rings to a serving platter and sprinkle with salt. Serve at once with ketchup. Serves 4 to 6.

Variation: This batter also works well with other vegetables. Try broccoli or cauliflower florets, whole cremini or button mushrooms or thawed frozen artichoke hearts. Finish with salt and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Comfort Food, by Rick Rodgers (Oxmoor House, 2009).