Yes, you heard right. Baked. Vegan. Onion rings. BEER-BATTERED.
And they seriously do not fall short of the real thing – unless you count NOT being a huge greasy mess “falling short”.
It has all the good things of the deep fried version, without any of the bad!
And by the bad I don’t just mean all the nasty health “benefits” that deep fried onion rings bring with them… I’m talking about the sloppy feeling you get after the first few bites. It’s no longer fun. You don’t feel awesome anymore. You just feel like a fat-ass, long before any of the fat and cholesterol ever had a chance to actually make you into one.
These don’t give you that feeling! Think of it as a free pass to drink whatever you want with the promise of no hangover the next day. My gift to you.
Maybe I am so excited about this because I had serious doubts it would come close to satisfying me… But it was SO good – spiced and crunchy on the outside, sweet and succulent on the inside – just the way it should be.
Mr. Graceful was shocked as well – “You… You made healthy junk food!” – he exclaimed as best he could while still stuffing his face with more rings. Try it for yourself!
What kind of junk food do you love that you think has no chance of ever getting a respectable healthy version?
Baked Vegan Beer-Battered Onion Rings:
Serves: Makes about 35 rings
Estimated Time: 15 minute prep + 25 minute bake PER BATCH (depends on oven size)
Kosher Classification: Neutral
Music That Compliments This Dish: Artctic Monkeys – Do I Wanna Know
2 large sweet onions
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2 Tbs. cornstarch
1 tsp dijon mustard
1/2 cup milk of choice
1/2 cup beer
2 cups panko crumbs
1 tsp coarse sea salt
2 tsp granulated garlic
2 tsp paprika
2 Tbs olive oil
Preheat your oven to 220 degrees Celsius, which are 430 degrees Fahrenheit, and line your biggest baking sheet with parchment paper.
Like any super-easy recipe that produces near-magic results, there is a secret ingredient involved… Can you guess what it is? (Of course you can, you read the ingredients list…)
Panko! These crunchy little crumbs just don’t lose their oomph as easily as mortal breadcrumbs, and I am really excited about trying new things with them.
Start by making the batter. In a mixing bowl, sift or whisk together the flour and the cornstarch, and then add only the milk. Mix until it is completely lump-free.
Add the mustard and the beer, and mix again until the batter is as uniform as possible.
Set aside, and get going on the coating. In another bowl, mix the panko with the spices.
Drizzle the olive oil on top of the panko, and toss it between your (clean) fingers until it has evenly spread through. This will also help the spices mix better, so don’t worry if in the last step it seemed like they weren’t mixing too well.
Next, take your onions and chop ‘em into rings. First, chop off the end so you can peel the papery skin off.
Then chop into 1/2 inch thick rings. Gently seperate the rings into a large bowl. You will probably not use the very tiny ones.
Have your onion bowl, your batter bowl, your coating bowl, and the baking sheet all lined up in that order.
A few tips before we start:
One: Use one hand for the batter, and the other for the coating! Or you will end up with a huge lump of wet crumbs on both hands. This one is hugely important.
Two: You will run out of one of the bowls before the others. That’s life.
Three: It’s better to divide the coating crumbs in half, and when the first half inevitably dwindles down to moist chunks of crumbs and batter, switch is with the second half. It helps if the bowl for the coating is a bit on the wide, flat side – the better to dredge your onion in.
Okay, we are ready!
Start by dipping a ring into the batter until it is completely coated, then shaking off the excess.
Next, grab a small handful of coating crumbs in one hand, and gently place the ring in the coating bowl with the other.
Sprinkle the crumbs you have in your hand on the onion. Then grab more from the sides (this is why you used a wide bowl!) and toss them on the onion. When that side of the ring it completely coated, turn it over and do the other side. If the ring is large enough, you can coat the inside of the ring by putting your finger through it and gently but quickly making circular motions.
This all sounds very complicated but after a few rings you will not only get exactly what I’m saying, but probably also develop your own strategy.
Then place the current ring on the baking sheet, and repeat with the next ring.
Wait, you didn’t think a recipe like this could end without some OCD thoughts and a computer-science-related rant, did you?
Here’s the thing: Each batch of onions bakes for about 25 minutes – so naturally, you would want to minimize the number of batches (especially in the summer). The catch is that for this recipe’s magic to work, the onions absolutely must be in a single layer, preferably with the least amount of contact between them.
Do you see where I’m going with this?
We need to find a way to pack as many onion rings as possible into a single batch. The solution I like to use is a combination of human intelligence and a “best-fit” attitude to allocating space for stuff.
You as a human have the magical ability to look at all of the onions in your bowl and decide which ring to pick up next, at pretty much no cost (it’s not difficult or time consuming for you). So take the biggest ones first, and fill the baking sheet with that for starters. After you run out of space doing that, look for the next largest rings that will fit inside the ones that are already on the sheet. Repeat until you run out of space. (You can also stick some really small ones in between other rings). More about those type of problems here.
Okay, rant over. Promise.
Place onions in the hot oven and bake for 25 minutes or until rings start to brown ever so slightly. If you were skilled enough (or your oven is big enough) to have only one batch, good for you! But if you’re like the rest of us, use this time that the rings are baking to make the next batch.
Let cool for a few minutes, then serve immediately.
Confession: I have no idea how long these keep for, because they always mysteriously disappear…
- Preheat oven to 220 Celsius (430 Fahrenheit). Line your widest baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Sift together 1/2 cup whole wheat flour and 2 Tbs. cornstarch. Add 1/2 milk of choice and mix until uniform.
- Add 1 tsp Dijon mustard and 1/2 cup beer and mix until uniform and no lumps are visible. Set aside.
- In a separate bowl, toss 2 cups panko with 1 tsp coarse sea salt, 2 tsp granulated garlic, and 2 tsp paprika.
- Drizzle 2 Tbs. olive oil on panko and toss with fingers until evenly spread through.
- Cut 2 large sweet onions into rings about 1/2 inch thick.
- Take a ring. Dredge it in the batter, then the coating. Lay it on the parchment paper.
- Repeat for all rings, using best-fit algorithm to optimize the number of rings in a batch. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown.