Hockey season has begun, which means more time spent gathered in front of the TV. If Hockey Night in Canada is part of your weekend ritual, here's a classic coffee table snack that will keep your home crowd cheering.
It's from The Canadian Craft Beer Cookbook, by David Ort (Whitecap) - a book I'll most likely pick up for my beer enthusiast husband this Christmas. While I'm not a fan of drinking the stuff, I often cook with it - chocolate stout cake, beer battered fish and chips - and these divine looking onion rings have shot to the top of my must-make list. I'm a sucker for a good onion ring, and these will fit the bill when it's freezing outside and we need a little something delicious - chances are, you have all the ingredients in the house already. And if you want to do it up right, beer is becoming the new wine when it comes to food pairings - it's cheaper to taste a wide variety, and David offers local suggestions to get you started.
Witbier Onion Rings
Compared to fries, when hand-dipped and made to order, onion rings are difficult for a restaurant to manage well. I’ll be honest that these aren’t an everyday recipe for me, but if you’re going to indulge, make sure you do it right.
Surrounding hot slices of onion, the banana, orange and clove flavours in the witbier will brighten and concentrate. I use red onion for this recipe because I’m a bit of an oddball. Spanish onions are more traditional and are a good choice if you can’t find a big enough (noticeably larger than your fist) red onion.
5 cups (1.25 L) peanut or rice bran oil
1 cup (250 mL) witbier, cold
2 oz (60 g) all-purpose flour (about 1/2 cup/125 mL)
2 oz (60 g) rice flour (about 1/4 cup/80 mL) plus 2 Tbsp (30 mL) for dusting rings
1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) baking powder
1/4 tsp (1 mL) fine sea salt
1 large red onion, cut into 3/4-inch slices
Lay out two cookie sheets and place a wire rack on each. This rig will work both for letting excess batter drip away and to cool the rings once they come out of the hot oil.
Set a Dutch oven over medium heat and fill with 2 inches (5 cm) of oil. Heat the oil to 375°F (190°C).
Pour the cold beer into a medium mixing bowl. Use a fine-mesh strainer to sift the flours into the beer. Add baking powder and salt, and mix to combine, but be careful not to overmix. Put slices of onion in a resealable bag or lidded container with the 2 tablespoons (30 mL) of rice flour and shake to coat the onion lightly.
Use tongs or chopsticks to transfer onion pieces from flour to batter and then to the racks set over the cookie sheets, where excess batter can drop off.
Carefully transfer the battered rings to the hot oil and continue to monitor the oil’s temperature. Work in batches that are small enough to not crowd the pan. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes a side or until rings are deep golden brown. Hold cooked rings on a clean wire rack while you fry subsequent batches. Season the rings with fine sea salt immediately after they come out of the hot oil.
Recommended beer pairings:
Cheval Blanc, Les Brasseurs RJ (Quebec)
Blanche des Honnelles, Brasserie de l’Abbaye des Rocs (Belgium)
The Canadian Craft Beer Cookbook is a lively and engaging introduction to craft beer as well as a set of 75 recipes that use craft beer as an ingredient or go well with craft beer as a pairing. Recipes that use beer ingredients such as hops, spent grain, and hops extract will also appeal to home brewers. If you’ve ever wanted to know more about craft beer, use craft beer in cooking or know which beer styles and particular beers to serve with particular dishes, this book is for you.
The book’s detailed introduction covers the basics:
The recipes include ones for snacks, salads, soups, vegetables, noodles, rice, seafood, meat and poultry. There are old favourites here as well as new surprises, such as:
There is a section on Beer Cocktails, Sweets and Desserts and mouth-watering condiments and accompaniments you’ll want to keep “In the Pantry”.