Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Beer-Battered Onion Rings


Onion Rings... if you love them, you can name in a second the best ones you've ever had! For me it was Clear Springs in New Braunfels, Texas. Friday nights we'd head north on Highway 46, halfway between Seguin and New Braunfels set an old dancehouse. They were famous for their catfish, and even if you weren't in the mood for fish... you'd most likely order it because it smelled so-dang-good!


Our GRANDson Jackson would be with us, we'd almost always start with an order of onion rings. We only made the mistake once of ordering the "Texas Size," surely they mean it's big enough for ALL of Texas! They were as close to perfect as you can get and be an onion ring. I have a recipe that's worthy to be called "close." It comes from Cooks Country and it's more than just measurements, it troubleshoots the common mistakes that restaurants and home cooks make when preparing. All you ever need to make the best onion rings you ever put in your mouth....DANGEROUS!

Beer-Battered Onion Rings
Serves 4 to 6
2 sweet onions, peeled and sliced into 1/2-inch thick rounds (use a sweet Vidalia)
3 cups beer (use a dark beer like Shiner Bock)
2 teaspoons malt vinegar (next to the other vinegars at the grocery)
Salt and pepper to taste
2 quarts peanut or vegetable oil
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking powder
1. Soak onions: Place onion rounds, 2 cups beer, vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a zip-lock bag; refrigerate 30 minutes or up to 2 hours.
2. Make batter: Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat to 350 degrees.
While oil is heating, combine flour, cornstarch, baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a large bowl. Slowly whisk in 3/4 cup beer until just combined (some lumps will remain). Whisk in remaining beer as needed, 1 tablespoon at a time, until batter falls from whisk in a steady stream and leaves faint trail across surface of batter.
3. Fry rings: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 200 degrees. Remove onions from refrigerator and pour off liquid. Pat onion rounds dry with paper towels and separate into rings. Transfer one-third portion of rings to batter. One at a time, carefully transfer battered rings to oil. Fry until rings are golden brown and crisp, about 5 minutes, flipping halfway through frying. Drain rings on paper towel-lined baking sheet, season with salt and pepper and transfer to oven. Return oil to 350 degrees and repeat with remaining onion rings and batter. Serve.

Troubleshooting Beer-Battered Onion Rings
Problem: Crunchy onions.
Solution: Soak in beer. Soaking the rings in a combination of beer, vinegar and salt softens and flavors the raw onion. Just don't soak longer than 2 hours or they get too soft!
Problem: Bad battering.
Solution: Add beer gradually. If the batter is too thick, the rings will be doughy; too thin and it will run off. Add the beer gradually until the batter falls from a whisk to form a ribbon trail.
Problem: Fused onion rings.
Solution: Don’t crowd the pot. Fry the battered onion rings in small batches and transfer them one at a time to the hot oil so they don’t stick together.
PRINT RECIPE

*The land where the restaurant now sets was originally surveyed by James Bowie, a hero of the Alamo, in 1825. Clear Springs Hall and Store was built in 1873 for storing cotton. At the height of cotton production it was normal to see cotton wagons backed up long distances to be weighed. It was also common for the drivers to spend their waiting time shopping and visiting at the Clear Springs Store. The store and saloon were the only establishments of their kind for several miles. The dance hall, now the restaurant, provided for community gatherings, such as dances, parties, plays, school functions, and political rallies. The historical Clear Springs Hall and Store now houses Clear Springs Restaurant which has preserved the historical atmosphere of the structure and the memory of the early German community.

12 comments:

  1. Love the history. Wish I'd heard of this for when we were in New Braunfels ... put this on the visit for next trip.

    Have a beautiful day
    TTFN ~
    Marydon

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    Replies
    1. Oh it's worth going Marydon! The New Braunfel's area is rich in history and has many wonderful restaurants. New Braunfel's Smokehouse, The Gristmill, Naeglin's Bakery... I miss them!

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  2. These sound amazingly delicious! I am definitely going to make these!!!

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    Replies
    1. Betsy, this is a great recipe and really troubleshoots the common problems of making onion rings. Love Cook's Country magazine...

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  3. Thanks I am going to try these tonight! Love the history
    Have a great day! :)
    Kim

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    Replies
    1. We did too, was such a cool old building! It was so much fun to go on Friday nights, they were always busy so our wait would be outside under the trees with a glass of sweet tea. Texas is hot as the dickens, but after the sun goes down the cool breezes bring you back to life. Everyone would be in a good mood since it was Friday night- good memories!

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  4. YUM!!!!!!!! I love the history too... thanks for sharing..

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    Replies
    1. We need to plan a trip back down there, so many wonderful places to visit. We lived there 5 years and really grew to love the area, no wonder Texans brag about their state!

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  5. I love a good onion ring, or two, or three! I haven't been to New Braunfels in decades, I need a trip!

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    Replies
    1. I shouldn't do posts like these, makes me hungry and homesick!

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  6. Food gives us many things...comfort and learning...these darn things sound delicious!!!!!...:)JP

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    Replies
    1. So true! Food connects us... when you looked around the room, you'd see families and generations enjoying each other.

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