Taste Scene

Michael Devlin

The best and only parmesan onion rings

We used to make onions rings at college and I remember referring to them as, “the worst things you could eat.” This wasn’t because they were un-tasty necessarily but rather they were dipped in batter and deep fried and thus, really bad for our collective health. Not that we minded right enough. Isn’t everyone immortal when they’re 18 or 19?
Still, I have fond memories of those onion rings. Yes, they were a little bit greasy but with lots of vinegar and a sprinkling of salt, they went down a bomb with the odd bottle of beer. 
Ah, Steiger the drink of the lesser Gods. That reminds me too, remember Snakebite? Now that was a one-way ticket to heartburn.
These days though, as I ponder the transience of youth, I am apt to think of onion rings and Steiger and the poor culinary choices I’ve been guilty of making. I haven’t had a tin of Steiger these past two decades though I have returned to the onion ring fold, these ones being a little more health conscious.
Cheesy onion rings are doubly great, in fact. They retain that onion-y geschmack (them being made from onions and all) and as they’re baked rather than fried, they’re at least semi-healthy. I’m also glad to note that they also go down well with a cold, crisp lager. Shot-gunning said lager is optional.
I garnered this particular technique from a food blog I happened across on the interweb (cookingwithmammac.com) and
I can happily report that, while they’re a little labour intensive, they’re definitely worth the trouble. I’ve knocked up a batch twice now in as many weeks and there wasn’t a single ring left for the bin. To boot, for all you gluten free people out there, there’s no wheat involved.
This recipe differs from Mamma C’s slightly. She uses paprika but I use sweet paprika and where she uses garlic powder, I leave that out altogether. I also add extra pepper. Still, credit where credit is due, the technique is all hers.
1 big yellow onion, sliced and separated into 1 cm thick rings
3 tbsps of cornflour
3 egg whites, beaten
2 big handfuls of finely grated parmesan
1 heaped tsp of sweet paprika
quarter tsp of white pepper
Sea salt
Start by heating the oven to 180˚C and as that’s happening set up your assembly line. The plan here is to dredge the onion rings in the cornflour, the egg whites and then the parmesan mixture, all in that order. 
To that end, tip the cornflour into a ziplock bag, separate the eggs and whisk the whites into a froth and in another ziplock bag add the parmesan, the pepper and the sweet paprika.
Take two onions rings and add these to the cornflour bag and toss until coated. Next, using a fork, remove these and add them to the bowl containing the egg whites. Move around until coated. Add these sticky rings to the parmesan bag and toss again until well coated in the cheesy spice mix. Lastly, add these to wire mesh cooling rack which you have cunningly set on a baking tray.
Now all you have to do is repeat the whole process until you’ve used up all your onion rings. You should get most of the rings onto one tray, or the vast majority anyway.
I should also have said that the whole assembly line process works better if you use a separate fork for each stage (one for the cornflour, one for the egg whites and one for the cheese bag). It saves on one fork being totally crusted in everything.
According to Mamma C, you bake the rings for between 11 and 14 minutes but mine took 15. However, you’ll know when they’re ready because they’ll be golden and crispy. The golden rule is: Keep an eye after 11 minutes and if they look like they’re moving beyond golden, get them out quick smart. You don’t want them to burn or they’ll taste bitter. 
And that’s it. All you have to do now is sprinkle the finished rings with some sea salt and tuck in. 
Mamma C recommends dunking these into melted butter, which I also tried but they are equally good on their own.
Oh – and they’re best eaten straight away for max affect. But if you’re like me, you shouldn’t have any bother on that front.

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