The other night DH and I settled down to a deceptively simple feast of homemade vegetarian pinto bean burgers, corn tortillas, lettuce, and baked onion rings. And yes, I just said BAKED onion rings. Of course, they were totally GLUTEN-FREE. But the real secret… they weren’t even that hard to make! I had been thinking about baked onion rings for some time when I stumbled across an intriguing recipe at Cooking for Engineers. It used a nice buttermilk batter (alas, not gluten-free) and a crispy coating of potato chips and (non gf) saltine crackers. I just happened to have some buttermilk in the fridge so I converted the batter to be gluten-free, and then reworked the coating. I was reluctant to use FRIED chips for a BAKED dish and cancel out all that healthfulness, so I decided to use the newly gluten-free and crunchy Rice Chex instead of potato chips. DH and I had recently discovered a new type of Glutino Cheese crackers at the local New Leaf health food store, and I decided to use them as a substitute for the saltine crackers. The result was cheesy and flavorful with less fat than the gluten-based-recipe that inspired me. To accompany this traditional American fast-food restaurant treat, I took some homemade slow-cooked organic pinto beans and sauteed them with some caramelized onions and garlic, adding peanut butter, tomato paste, green pepper, and fresh cilantro for flavor. Then I added some freshly cooked brown rice and shaped the mixture into patties and floured them with pure GF buckwheat. I pan fried them in a little peanut oil in a cast iron pan and then sprayed them with nonstick cooking spray and baked them until they were firm and perfectly brown. We enjoyed them in a non-traditional corn tortilla with mayo and ketchup (and a little chipotle salsa) and they were the ideal accompaniment for golden, perfectly baked onion rings. Onion rings have always been a rare treat, due to all the trouble (and guilt) of all that oil and deep frying, but with this recipe, they can be on our regular menu. In fact, DH has insisted that we have them again… soon!
*I know, I know, the pinto bean burgers don’t have exact proportions. This is one of those recipes that I created as I went along, tasting and adjusting as I liked. That’s the fun thing about veggie burgers- you can make them up as you go along, just making sure they will shape into a croquette at the end of your kitchen witchery. Enjoy- and tell me all about your version!
Question of the day:
What is your favorite gluten-free breading, either homemade or purchased? Tell me in the comments!
Baked GF Onion Rings
*3/4 cup GF Glutino Original OR Cheese flavored crackers (or substitute)
*1 1/4 cup GF Rice Chex (check the box) or similar unsweetened GF cereal
1 large onion (cut into wide 1/2 inch rings and separated)
3 tbsp. white rice flour
1/4 cup fine brown rice flour
Preheat oven to 450 degrees and place large NOT oiled cookie sheet or baking tin in oven.
Grind Glutino Crackers and Rice Chex in your food processor until you have smooth, even crumbs a similar texture to coarse corn meal.
Whisk together your white rice flour, potato starch and spices with buttermilk and the egg in a medium bowl.
Put the onion in a plastic bag with the brown rice flour and shake until onion slices are coated with flour. Bring over your buttermilk mixture and shake the ground cracker and cereal onto a flat plate. Dip the floured rings into the white rice flour-buttermilk batter and then place each ring in the ground cracker-cereal mixture, covering both sides. Try not to get extra liquid into the cracker meal.
Take the hot pan out of the oven and baste it with a small amount of your favorite oil OR use a nonstick cooking spray. Place each coated onion ring (flour, batter, cracker meal) on the cooking sheet not touching each other and place in preheated oven. Bake for eight minutes and then turn and put back in the oven for 5 to 8 more minutes, checking after five minutes. Take out of oven and enjoy with ketchup or plain. Yummy!
DH loved these more than those made with a conventional breading mix. In fact, we both thought they were delicious and WILL be making these again- soon.
Amount of chex and glutino crackers is approximate. Use more chex than glutino, but cut down proportions to suit your taste and cracker supply.