I am a fan of the onion ring. Done well, they’re glorious things, crisp and golden, with a sweet onion that hopefully doesn’t slither out when you bite into it. I rarely order them, unless I know they’re going to be good – it’s a high fat investment for something sub-par. And I rarely make them at home, but once in awhile I do – when there are people around to share, and I have a few nice, sweet onions that I don’t want to smother in the bottom of a soup or stew. They’re simple to make, and you only need about an inch of oil in the bottom of a small pot – there’s no need to heat vats of oil or invest in a deep fryer.
They’re cheap – and look what you get. Just-fried and paper towelled, showered with salt and brought straight to the table – with a quickly stirred together aioli of lemon juice, mayo and mustard – will make your people very happy.
Slice your onion crosswise and separate them into rings, then toss with flour – if the little skin starts to separate, just pull them off – this is what encourages them to slither out of their crackly casings.
Canola oil works perfectly – you don’t need a special thermometer, only a wooden spoon handle or scrap of bread. My Belgian aunt, whose specialty was potato croquettes, taught me that if either sizzles when you dip it in, the oil is ready.
Have a double layer of paper towel ready – I lay mine in the cast iron skillet that’s always on my stovetop – and shower with salt while they’re still hot. I like ground salt, so you get finer and flakier bits all at once. One onion will make a surprising number of onion rings – this formula will feed a small (or hungry) crowd.
For a quick dip, spoon about 1/3 cup mayo into a small dish and stir in a spoonful of grainy mustard and squeeze of lemon. A good grind of pepper is good, too. Enjoy!