Thursday, July 30, 2009

Crispy Homemade Buttermilk Cornmeal Onion Rings - gluten free! or not


Dear Crispy Homemade Buttermilk Cornmeal, gluten free! (or not) Onion Rings,

I love you desperately, madly, truly, deeply. Let's run away to Vegas and get married and live happily ever after for ever and ever and ever. I don't care what people say, I'll still love you even if you drive a motorcycle, wear a leather jacket, or are deep fried in vegetable oils high in omega-6 fatty acids, and my parents and teachers say you are a bad, bad boy. They just don't know you like I know you, because if they did, they would love you like I love you.

True Love forever,

Bleeding Heart Teenage Angst Becks.


I have a confession to make: I'm in love with a bad, bad, but oh, so good, deep fried treat. I am hopelessly smitten. Oh, it hurts so good. In my defense, I would like to point out that before I made these, it had been over 2 years since I had an onion ring, or anything breaded, for that matter. Two years of eating salads while watching my curiously slim husband gobble down burgers and fries and stacks of crispy golden onion rings.


Wait, what's that sound? I think it's a tiny violin.

I like a salad as much as the next Californian (read: A LOT) but sometimes I just start hankering after something a little more forbidden, and little more carbohydrate laden, a little more deep fried. Sometimes, you just want to date a bad boy for the fun of it. Sometimes, you want ONION RINGS, to hell with the consequences.

And hello? Now I know these are ridiculously easy to make. They require approximately zero talent. I don't know what took me so long. Now I want to eat them on burgers and with steaks and dipped into marinara sauce and ranch dressing and blah blah blah.

Please, please make these. Bleeding heart teenage angst Becks wants you to love these onion rings like she loves these onion rings. With a deep, passionate, blind love, which (of course) will last until the end of time, or the end of high school, whichever comes first.


Crispy Homemade Buttermilk Cornmeal Onion Rings - gluten free! or not.
Adapted from Ina Garten's Barefoot Contessa at Home

The only special equipment you really need for this recipe, a piece of equipment you just can't do without, it a good instant-read candy/deep fry thermometer. You just don't know how hot that oil is without one, and it really does need to be 350 degrees. Any lower, and you get soggy onion rings, not crisp light ones. And any higher, and well, you get burned onion rings. So go splurge and spent that $7 for a thermometer. You'll be glad you did.

This recipe also calls for masa, my new favorite flour. Masa is a type of fine Latin American corn flour used to make tortillas, chips, tamales, etc. It tastes wonderful, and it's mega cheap. I love the stuff, and I'm trying find new ways to use it. This recipe is adapted from Ina Garten (The Barefoot Contessa), who originally called for corn meal. However, we found that to be a bit too gritty and heavy, and we liked the texture and taste of the masa flour much better.

In addition to the masa, I call for some gluten-free flours (sweet rice flour and brown rice flour), but if gluten isn't an issue for you, I'm sure all purpose flour would work admirably, and taste quite yummy.

2 sweet onions (Maui sweet onions or Vidalia onions)
2 cups buttermilk
1 cup masa de harina corn flour
1/2 cup sweet rice flour (or all purpose flour)
1/2 cup brown rice flour (or all purpose flour)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1 quart vegetable oil

Cut 2 sweet onions crosswise into 1/2 inch rings, and separate layers into individual rings.

In a ziplock bag, combine 2 cups buttermilk with 1 teaspoon kosher salt and 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper. Add onion rings, and let soak for at least 30 minutes (can be made ahead and soaked overnight).

Combine 1 cup masa de harina, 1/2 cup sweet rice flour, and 1/2 cup brown rice flour in a shallow bowl, and mix thoroughly.

Preheat 1 quart vegetable oil to 350 degrees in a heavy bottomed skillet or cast iron pot. Working in batches, coat onion rings in flour mixture, and add to the oil. Fry for 1-2 minutes, until rings are golden. Remove from oil with a slotted spoon, and let drain on a paper towel.

Enjoy your illicit, forbidden, deep fried love affair. Rrrar!


  1. I love masa and I'm super excited to have a new way to use it... looks like it could be dangerous though!

  2. YUM!! I can not WAIT to try these, you must have been reading my mind. We just went out for burgers the other day and my son ordered onion rings... and they were the real kind. I wanted one so badly, but there's the whole gluten thing and you know...

    Love corn masa. Have you tried the tortillas? So easy and delicious. My guys ate a whole batch right out of the pan as fast as I could cook them. You don't even have to have a tortilla press, I used two cutting boards smashed together. Try 'em, with butter. The real kind. You will thank me later.

  3. This looks like a great G-free recipe! Can't wait to test it in my deep fryer!