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Nov 18, 2006 01:27 PM

FrenchFriedOnions: Let's do better than "the can". Your successful crunchy recipes?

The classic supermarket French's and Durkee's canned fried onions have their place, and that place is to remain on the shelf.

For a successful crunchy home-fried version, there seem to be a few basic variations.

1) Onion slice size: I plan to slice them very thin on mandoline: let's say 1/16th inch, then quarter the slices and tease/toss apart to yield multi-lengthed strands, to be soaked in ice water before frying.

2) Batter/Dusting: Cornstarch vs Flour; Wet batter vs Dry dusting. Now it gets complicated.

For simplest, it would be to toss/dust in pure cornflour for crunch, but is a 50/50 wheat flour mix better, or even 100% wheat?

If wet batter, again the cornstarch/wheat question remains, compounded with milk/egg/other, compounded with soda leavening or not.

Help me, Hounds... Save me from the splatter of the batter and the oil. Share your successful techniques. I'm going to try several different runs, but your recipes would help me to narrow it.

My goal here is to "duplicate" the crunchiness of the commercial French's/Durkee's, but in a better way. This is not about "onion rings" or caramelized onions or Thai fried shallots, all of which have their excellent place. Keep in mind "thin sliced".

As you correctly guessed, I am the designated bearer of this year's green bean casserole. But this thread is about only the onions.

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  1. I'll be interested in reading any replies you get. In a recent Cook's Illustrated (not that I believe EVERYTHING they say), the conclusion was that the effort it takes to do a homemade substitution for French-fried onions isn't worth it. Their delicious green bean casserole recipe (which I've already made twice) calls for mixing the canned french-fried onions with a homemade bread-crumb mixture to "class it up."

    1. A very good purchased alternative would be a jar of fried shallots form an Asian grocery. Cheap, too.

      1 Reply
      1. Well, I did the yummyiest fried shallots purely by accident in my first un-researched effort to do brown butter. Anyway, I just let chopped shallots fry in butter until crisp and totally brown. They were fantastic. My husband and I ended up nibbling them cold from the fridge.

        1. A creative chowhound - forgot who - did a microwave fried shallot report a while back? anyone remember this?

          1. Boil thin-sliced unbattered rings in water briefly to soften and kill harshness. Then simmer in canola oil. These stay crisp and can be done ahead of time.

            And two more traditional methods:

            METHOD 1

            2 large white or Spanish onions
            1 cup milk
            olive, grapeseed or corn oil for frying
            cornmeal or flour for coating

            1. Peel onions and cut into thick slices; separate into rings and mix in bowl with milk, tossing to coat. Put a 6-quart saucepan over medium heat, and add at least 1" of oil. Put a couple of handfuls of cornmeal or flour in a paper or plastic bag.

            2. When the oil is about 350 degrees (a pinch of flour will sizzle), toss a handful of rings in the bag with cornmeal or flour and put them in oil. Cook, stirring occasionally, until browned and tender, about 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon, drain on paper towels, add salt, and serve while you cook remaining rings. (Good luck in having any left for you.)

            METHOD 2

            1. Soak rings in buttermilk for 24 hr. or blanch.

            2. use 2:1 flour/cornstarch coating; add some or all of paprika, cayenne, salt, pepper and dried thyme; or add lime zest and wild cumin.

            3. Fry in canola oil.