Have Your Beer ... and Eat It, Too

Learn how to make beer battered onion rings and The Drunken Sandwich to commemorate the first Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week.


Photos by Leah Lizarondo

I don’t know about you, but ogling economic indicators isn’t as fun as it used to be. Like since the 1950s maybe. For someone who gets off on graphs, it’s been slim pickins lately. But there’s one graph that caught my eye and redeems them all. Consumer Confidence Index be damned, we have — after almost a century — finally recovered from the effects of one of the most ill-judged public policy initiatives of all time. Prohibition.



We hit rock bottom in 1930, then experienced a few years of resurgence before the craft beer version of the double-dip recession happened. The period from 1936 to 1979 can be considered the “dark ages” of beer, when the choices our parents had were limited to carbonated spittoon water. Of course, it would take a Democrat (the party party) to say “enough” of this, and Jimmy Carter ran for president on a Deregulation platform that — naturally — won him the presidency. As we know, Jimmy Carter would later win the Nobel Peace Prize, and rumor has it that it is because of his liberation of hops, malt and yeast.

Fast forward to 2012. I now have over 1700 craft breweries to choose from. Take that Moody’s. True, hipsters will still rebelliously tote their PBRs as an “in your face” to what some perceive as craft beer elitism, but only to the point where they can then whip out their rare Leavenworth Boulder Bend Dunkelweizen that they had to travel to Olympia, WA to buy. Of course.

This year, Pittsburgh celebrates its First Craft Beer Week with almost a dozen local breweries (I didn’t even know we had that many!) and over 50 craft brewers participating. Perhaps the best part of the festival is the Collaboration Beers — local breweries partnering up to produce limited edition brews.

But, this being The Brazen Kitchen, I urge you to broaden your grain spectrum and try the new grain brews out there. Used to be, if you were gluten sensitive, you had to stick to cider (or wine, which is cruel for fried food!)

Fortunately, that’s not the case anymore. There are some great breweries out there who are now producing varieties made from grains such as sorghum, millet and rice. My absolute favorite is New Grist Beer, an award winner at the singular Great American Beer Festival. It is absolutely delicious. No compromises there. Downside is, it’s hard to find around these parts.

But fear not — there are a few gluten-free varieties at local distributors and The Sharp Edge. That’s good news for gluten-free enthusiasts or the grain-curious. Red Bridge (which is actually an Anheuser Busch brand, not quite “craft”), Bard’s and New Planet are all available here.

What else does this mean? Now you can make those Beer Battered Onion Rings with a twist. With a great sorghum beer, some protein-packed chickpea flour and hefty hotness, you can now make the Best. Onion. Rings. Ever.  And if you pair it with this Drunken Sandwich, you’re all set to have your beer and eat it, too. Sure, you might feel a little guilt, but only for how much you don’t want to share any of it.

Beer Battered Onion Rings

Makes about 4 servings (or serves one, four times)

1 cup chickpea flour
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp paprika (I prefer Half Sharp Hungarian Paprika)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
Cayenne to taste
1 T hot sauce (optional)
1 cup beer (I used New Planet Off Grid Pale Ale)
1 very large white or yellow onion
Oil for frying*

Preheat oven to 250 degrees — to keep your onion rings warm as you fry the batches. Line a baking tray with paper towels.

In a deep frying pan or dutch oven, heat the oil to 365F (you will know it is ready if you put a drop of batter or piece of bread and it immediately sizzles and browns). Make sure you have enough oil so that it is about 4 inches deep in your pan.

Peel onions and cut into thick rings. Separate the rings.

In a large bowl, mix first 7 ingredients and whisk until smooth. The mixture should be the consistency of pancake batter. Add a bit more beer if needed (a tablespoon at a time).
Let sit for about 15 minutes.

Dip the onion rings and shake off excess batter. Work in batches and do not crowd the onion rings. I find that using tongs makes it easier. Each batch will take about 2 minutes, try to turn the rings once or twice during the process.

Monitor the temperature of your oil -- it will cool off with each batch, test it before you put the next batch in.  The temperature of the oil spells the difference between a crispy, “healthy/er” deep fry and a soggy, oily mess.**

Season with salt and pepper. Enjoy.

The Drunken Sandwich recipe can be found here.



*I don’t fry very much -- much less deep fry -- and on the rare occasion that I do, I do not discard the oil. Whole Foods Market provides receptacles for you to dispose of your oil so that they can recycle it as fuel.

**Those bits of dripped batter that fry along with the rings? SAVE THEM. WE WILL USE THEM IN AN UPCOMING RECIPE. Trust me. It will be good. Drain the oil in paper towels (along with your rings). Place in an airtight container and store in the fridge. It will store indefinitely. And we will use them soon.

Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

More from Brazen Kitchen:

Grilled Flatbread That'll Blow Your Mind

Grilled Flatbread That'll Blow Your Mind

During the long weekend, prepare this summer-inspired pizza, which features spelt dough, a colorful array of tomatoes and other CSA treats.
Drink Your (Local, Organic) Whiskey — And Eat it Too.

Drink Your (Local, Organic) Whiskey — And Eat it Too.

Brazen Kitchen: A cocktail, a dessert and a video on Whiskey 101. Let’s drink to that!
The Brazen Kitchen Manifesto

The Brazen Kitchen Manifesto

Expand your palate, one vegetable at a time.
Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia Pudding Parfait

Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia Pudding Parfait

Brazen Kitchen: Dessert for breakfast was never this good (for you).
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Bucket List: 25 Don't-Miss Experiences for the Yinzer in All of Us

Bucket List: 25 Don't-Miss Experiences for the Yinzer in All of Us

You'll have to work hard to make it through the 'Burgh Bucket List — but every entry is more than worth the effort.
Finally Home: How Pittsburgh Won Over Troy Polamalu

Finally Home: How Pittsburgh Won Over Troy Polamalu

Troy Polamalu came to Pittsburgh craving the California sun. Nearly a dozen years later, he shares a rare glimpse of the relationships he developed here — with his God, the Steelers Nation and the city he and his family now call home. One thing is certain: he never wants to leave.
Granting the Perfect Wish

Granting the Perfect Wish

By fulfilling the wish of a 12-year-old boy, PittGirl learns that you don't always need a lot of money to grant the perfect wish.
Men's Winter Fashion: Season for Swagger

Men's Winter Fashion: Season for Swagger

Try an updated take on traditional trends with these winter must-haves for men.
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


Everything That's Awesome About Pittsburgh Today
#TBT: Watch the ‘King’s’ Final Pittsburgh Concert

#TBT: Watch the ‘King’s’ Final Pittsburgh Concert

Elvis Presley rang in 1977 with a New Year’s Eve concert at the Civic Arena.

Comments


Pittsburgh, only cooler
The World-Famous Yinzer Gift Guide: 2014

The World-Famous Yinzer Gift Guide: 2014

You can't miss with a gift from PittGirl’s list of 13 'Burgh-related must-haves.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Broadening Pittsburgh's Meat Horizons

Broadening Pittsburgh's Meat Horizons

A partnership between a local couple and a local farmer has resulted in more pasture-raised lamb and pork being sold at the market.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
10 Best Lunch Spots That Won’t Bust Your Budget

10 Best Lunch Spots That Won’t Bust Your Budget

Come lunchtime, these Pittsburgh eateries serve food that's big on flavor and low on cost.

Comments


After Dark Hall of Fame: Eat'n Park

After Dark Hall of Fame: Eat'n Park

The inaugural inductee in the After Dark Hall of Fame has been an integral part of Pittsburgh nightlife for generations.

Comments


The Perfect Homemade Gift: Drunken Pirouettes

The Perfect Homemade Gift: Drunken Pirouettes

Julia Erickson, co-founder of Barre, shares the recipe for a homemade energy snack, fueled with a touch of Wigle’s organic rye whiskey.

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
Elf for Your Shelf

Elf for Your Shelf

Artist Ken Wagle draws on his Pennsylvania Dutch heritage to create unique carvings of the North Pole’s biggest elf — Santa.

Comments


This week's buzz from the PM editors
See a Traditional Holiday Show This Weekend

See a Traditional Holiday Show This Weekend

"A Musical Christmas Carol," "The Nutcracker" and "Highmark Holiday Pops" all perform in the Cultural District.

Comments


Award-winning sports commentary by Sean Conboy
R.I.P. Corporate Penguins, 2009-2014

R.I.P. Corporate Penguins, 2009-2014

Fire Bylsma? Fire Shero? The Penguins' problems run deeper.

Comments

Edit Module