We’ve had some great times together over the last 10 years. I first met you when I worked in a little flower shop while I was in high school. You would like it. We had orange tulips. When the store was slow, I would flip through The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook and ogle the glossy, kosher-salted photos.
I copied your recipes down by hand because even with my employee discount, $35.00 was too steep for a cookbook, especially in my high school days. But eventually I couldn’t take it any more and you came home with me.
We’ve been together ever since. You taught me how to cook. Before I knew you, I was famous for one-pot pasta dishes. Now I’m frying things! You showed me how to get the most out of my ingredients, and coax the flavor from a dish in ways I had never seen before.
And this is you at your finest. It’s a simple recipe. But it’s perfect and it’s not too hard, and I did not have to go out and buy a single ingredient for it. I had flour. I had cornmeal. I had onions. And I had buttermilk (thanks to you, it’s something I keep around now). And they all came together.
You gave me these perfectly light, crunchy, salty, sweet onion rings. And they passed the husband test (“I don’t really like onion rings but these are the best thing I have ever eaten”) with flying colors. And I couldn’t stop picking at them either.
So thank you Ina. Here’s to ten more years together.
Just to go on a bit more…
I can’t even tell you how much better these are than anything you’ve ever tried in a restaurant. If you haven’t ever made them, now is the time. Don’t be afraid to fry. It’s worth it.
*adapted from Ina Garten
- 2 onions, sliced into 1/2 inch rings
- 2 C buttermilk
- 1 1/2 C flour
- 1/4 C cornmeal
- kosher salt
- 1 qt. flavorless oil (I used canola)
Pour the buttermilk in a bowl and stir in 1 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper. Let the onions sit in the buttermilk for at least 15 minutes (and up to a couple of hours).
Heat the oil (use a candy thermometer) to 350 degrees in a Dutch oven. Preheat the oven to 200.
In a medium bowl, combine the flour and cornmeal with 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper. In batches, dredge the onions in the flour mixture. Drop them in the oil a few at a time (get ready for, but don’t fear the sizzle) and fry for about two minutes, turning once, until they are golden brown in color. You don’t want to crowd the onion rings in the oil. You also want to watch the temperature of the oil, as it will drop once you add some new friends. When they’re ready, fish them out with a spider or tongs and place them on a baking sheet. As your batches finish up, keep adding to the baking sheet, so the finished rings stay warm in the oven (this works for up to 30 minutes). Before serving, sprinkle liberally with salt.
Betcha can’t eat just one!
*a note…For lack of a better category, this one is going under “veggies.” Make of it what you wish.