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Crispy Onion Straws & Spicy Dipping Sauce

July 7, 2011

When I was in high school and college, I worked at a lovely culinary establishment– a real local place– called Ruby Tuesday. Famous for its salad bar, Ruby Tuesday (like most suburban chain restaurants) had a staff of students and degenerates, a management rife with corporate B.S., and food that was true american crap. I mean, I’m not saying some of it wasn’t delicious, but let’s be serious, folks…. fine dining this wasn’t.

Having said that– one of the highlights of the menu were the onion straws. Crispy, thin strips of onion served on the side of a platter– and of course these came from a freezer bag, to a deep fryer, to your plate. Despite these dubious origins, these suckers were delicious.

Fast-forward to last night. It was Burger Night at my little household- and no half-assing beef here, we’re talking IDEAL BURGERS. We had time, we carefully collected all the ingredients, and were determined to make burgers EXACTLY how we like it. We’re talking bacon, cheese, a meticulously-seasoned out burger patty, pretzel buns– and of course, crispy onion straws. “But Ms. Butter,” you wail. “I DONT HAVE A DEEP FRYER.” Calm yourselves. Remember that cast iron skillet? Multi purpose, baby. With a little planning and good splatter guard, you’ll have these puppies in no time:

You’ll need:

  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced (we’re talking super thin, people. use a mandolin, if you have one, or a very sharp knife. if you can see the knife through the onion, it’s thin enough.)
  • 1 cup buttermilk (if you dont have buttermilk, no big deal. Just mix slightly less than a cup of milk with a couple of tablespoons of lemon juice or vinegar, let it sit for 5 minutes, and voila.  It’s magic!)
  • 1 quart canola oil (I had saved the oil from frying chicken. Used oil works better, for some reason. But unused will be ok too.)
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (use less if you want them less spicy)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Lawry’s seasoning salt (optional)

In a shallow pan, layer the onions, pour the buttermilk over them, cover, and stick ’em in the fridge. Let them soak for at least an hour. (I know, this seems like a long time, but it’s worth it….something about taking away the acidity or something. I dont know, i just know it’s good.)

Heat the oil in the cast iron skillet to a heat of 375 degrees (use your nifty thermometer from the fried chicken!).  Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, mix the flour, cayenne, and salt & pepper. Take the onions out and place a handful (or tong-ful) at a time into the flour mixture. When the oil is hot enough, take the tong-ful of onions (being sure to tap on the side of the bowl to rid excess flour) and carefully place them in the hot oil. Repeat this with several more tong-fuls of onions– you should be able to fit about 4 in the pan. And, by the time you set the last one in, the first one should be ready to be turned. Cook the onions for 1-2 minutes per bunch, then remove and let drain on a paper towel. Repeat until you run out of onions. Toss finished onions with Lawry’s for that little extra ooomph. And everybody likes ooomph.

Now, I like onions as a topper for things– burger, salad, whatever- but they are equally good alone with a little dipping sauce. I found this recipe on the internet that SWORE it tasted like the Outback’s bloomin’ onion sauce. I tweaked it a bit, and even my mayonnaise-hating boyfriend thought it was pretty good. You’ll need:

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons of horseradish mustard (or that creamy horseradish sauce, or hell, even horseradish. whatever you have is cool.)
  • 2 tablespoons of ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon of paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon of dried oregano

Mix all of that goodness together and boom! Deliciousness. Tip: the longer you let it sit in the fridge before serving, the better it tastes, so if you have a spare half-hour, let the flavors all hang out together for a bit before slathering it on the onions.

As it happened, I put the sauce on my burger last night, and topped it with onion straws. Result? Perfect summer evening.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Geeds permalink
    July 7, 2011 1:17 pm

    haters give me them salty looks, lawrys

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