Who doesn't love those (naughty) fried, crunchy, satisfying circles of deliciousness?
If you raised your hand, I must assume it's an "onion thing" for you then. Because fried "anything" is usually pretty darn tasty!
The problem is ... the amount of fat and calories that ride that wave of deliciousness across our taste buds and into our bodies does not love us (or our thighs).
I searched and searched for a baked onion ring recipe and came across a few that appealed to me. I first assumed and predicted going into this quest that a baked onion ring would never compare to a fried onion ring. I will repeat a sentence from three lines up ... fried "anything" is usually pretty darn tasty!
So, I decided to go about this with the mindset of not comparing baked onion rings to the fried version, but rather to allow myself to enjoy the experience of knowing I was creating something healthy and hopefully, tasty ... and, with the notion that they couldn't and wouldn't compare! Why? Because they are two totally different things. It's like that whole apples and oranges thing. They may both be fruit, but they are definitely not the same thing.
A fellow blogger at Oh She Glows, posted a recipe awhile back for Crispy Baked Onion Rings. (Coincidentally, her name is Angela, as well.) I liked the addition of sesame seeds in her recipe and I thought her recipe for the coating and breading seemed like something that would work well for what I was looking for. I did change some things in my own version, but this is adapted from her Crispy Baked Onion Rings.
2 sweet onions
1/2 cup flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup milk
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
2 heaping tablespoons sesame seeds
Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Begin by peeling and cutting the onions into 1/2 - 3/4 inch thick slices. Separate rings. Reserve the smaller (inner) rings for another use.
Whisk together the flour, cornstarch and milk in a shallow dish. Add in a sprinkling of salt and pepper and combine.
In another shallow dish, combine the cornmeal, panko, Parmesan, sesame seeds, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, oregano, 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 of a teaspoon of pepper.
Working one at a time, dip each ring into the wet mixture (batter), then place into the dry mixture (breading). Coat well ... pressing the breading onto the rings, if needed.
Place breaded rings onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Mist the rings with some non-stick spray before baking.
Bake for 20 minutes. Flip rings over halfway through baking.
Place under the broiler for a minute or two at the end of baking if you find the rings need a little more browning.
Note: You will probably have leftover batter and coating. Simply discard!
While I can't honestly say that I would always prefer this baked version over the fried version, it is something I will make again and something that I thought came out better than I had expected! And, for those of us aiming for a more-healthful lifestyle, this is truly something that would be a great stand-in when those deep-fried onion ring cravings kick in!