Ina Garten, also known as Barefoot Contessa, does a wonderful version of the fried onion ring. She uses cornmeal and butter milk; followed by a short dip in the fryer, to create her mouth-watering, Cornmeal-Fried Onion Rings. Well, you can already guess that the frying isn't gonna fly in the cookin' lean kitchen. Therefore, I have created a slightly different version of this yummy fried treat. We are baking them and they are going to be just as crispy, delicious and satisfying as the oh-so-fattening version. Have at it!
OVEN BAKED ONION RINGS
Makes 8 servings
2 large Vidalia onion (sweet onion)
2 cups FAT FREE Buttermilk
1 tablespoon Paprika
1-1/2 cups flour
3 cups ( or about 2 sleeves) REDUCED-FAT Townhouse crackers
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
In a medium bowl, mix buttermilk, salt, pepper and 2 tablespoons of flour. Mix well.
To crush the crackers, mix in a food processor or place in a sealed plastic bag; crushing the crackers with a rolling pin. Empty the crushed crackers into a shallow bowl. Add Paprika; a pinch of salt and a pinch of pepper.
Slice onion; separate into rings.
Add the remaining flour into a large plastic bag. Add a handful of rings to the bag, seal and shake; coating the rings. Dip the flour coated rings in the buttermilk mix, then the cracker mix. Place on a prepared baking sheet (coated with non-fat cooking spray). Repeat for remaining rings. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden and crispy.
Serve immediately, adding just a tiny pinch of salt before digging in.
*Suggested dipping sauce: 1/2 cup of fat free or light ranch dressing + 2 tablespoons BBQ sauce; mix well. SOOOO YUM!
One of my weaknesses is the onion basket at Buffalo Wild Wings. The beer battered and fried rings, with that outstanding dip, is just out of this world. I don't even know the calorie count on those things and I don't want to. It would probably ruin the experience completely. I do know that it isn't good, so these baked rings make a great substitute when craving that flavor but not wanting to sabotage my healthy eating for the week.
The exact amount of crackers, buttermilk, etc. needed depends on how big the onions are; which is why the recipe calls for 2-3 sleeves of crackers. Just buy a box and you will be set! If you have to add more buttermilk, crackers, etc., to finish all the onions...go for it. You aren't going to hurt anything. The major nutritional changes were made when we switched from frying to baking. So, enjoy making these and don't stress too much about exact ingredient amounts. There is only so much cracker batter you can get to stick to an onion. You will be fine!
NUTRITION FACTS (per serving): 253.75 calories; 4.61g fat; 44.72g carbohydrate; 6.89g protein; 1.86g fiber