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.

More from Brazen Kitchen:

Butternut Squash and Brazil-Nut Potstickers

Butternut Squash and Brazil-Nut Potstickers

Plus, a big reason why you should support a small community farm.
How to Hit a Home Run at Your Pirates Playoff Party

How to Hit a Home Run at Your Pirates Playoff Party

This loaded guacamole will be going, going, gone before the second inning. No doubt about it.
Hey There, Hot Stuff

Hey There, Hot Stuff

Brazen Kitchen: Heat up your cold nights with Harira — a rich and satisfying Moroccan chickpea soup.
How to Eat Your Vegetables

How to Eat Your Vegetables

Brazen Kitchen: Kevin Sousa's imaginative vegetable table at Harvard & Highland changes the game.

Hot Reads

Review: One Thirty One East

Review: One Thirty One East

Located in the southwest suburban community of Carnegie, One Thirty One East embodies the area’s renaissance.
Grow. Cook. Drink.: Maggie Meskey of Butcher and the Rye

Grow. Cook. Drink.: Maggie Meskey of Butcher and the Rye

The charismatic Maggie Meskey had tended bar for years before landing her gig at downtown bourbon haven Butcher and the Rye.
13 Bartenders You Should Know

13 Bartenders You Should Know

Get acquainted with this group of charming bar professionals working in various establishments around the city.
12 Hot New Restaurants

12 Hot New Restaurants

A diverse crop of eateries caught our attention this year, so we’re highlighting some of our favorites.

On the Blogs


Everything That's Awesome About Pittsburgh Today
Gear Up for Month of Mud's Final Bike Race of 2014

Gear Up for Month of Mud's Final Bike Race of 2014

The homegrown race series wraps up on Sunday at Ohiopyle State Park.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
7 Best Rising Star Bartenders

7 Best Rising Star Bartenders

Get to know the city’s next generation of savvy, ambitious ’tenders.

Comments


Pittsburgh, only cooler
The Pirates Lost, and Twitter Went to Hell in a French-Fry Basket

The Pirates Lost, and Twitter Went to Hell in a French-Fry Basket

PittGirl recaps what transpired in the local Twittersphere after last night's Wild Card game.

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


Notion Launches a Series of Wine and Cooking Classes

Notion Launches a Series of Wine and Cooking Classes

Brush up on your skills before enjoying a six-course fine-dining experience.

Comments


Bar Exam: Cappy's Cafe

Bar Exam: Cappy's Cafe

The Walnut Street stalwart is a Shady haven built for people-watching.

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
Cozy in Cashmere

Cozy in Cashmere

A luxury cashmere kiosk has arrived at the Ross Park Mall just in time to outfit you for colder weather.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Pittsburgh Pierogi Fest Will Take Over Stage AE Tomorrow

Pittsburgh Pierogi Fest Will Take Over Stage AE Tomorrow

The event will offer ample activities and a variety of pierogi-inspired dishes.

Comments


This week's buzz from the PM editors
Time to See Ballet Under the Stars

Time to See Ballet Under the Stars

This weekend, the PBT presents its annual production at Hartwood Acres under the night sky.

Comments