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:

Reboot Breakfast: Super Easy Homemade Granola + More Quick, Healthy Ideas

Reboot Breakfast: Super Easy Homemade Granola + More Quick, Healthy Ideas

Commercial granola can be as sugar-laden as certain breakfast cereals. Here’s how to make your own granola from scratch.
Chocolate. Hazelnut. Eggnog. Pie!

Chocolate. Hazelnut. Eggnog. Pie!

Brazen Kitchen: No, its not actually four separate things. It’s one insane dessert.
Cashew Lime Kale Chips

Cashew Lime Kale Chips

Plus, meet the Pittsburgher campaigning to bring kale to France.
A Berry Good Smoothie

A Berry Good Smoothie

Brazen Kitchen: Shake off the winter funk with a little spring cleanse, plus GIVEAWAYS for The Farm to Table Conference and The Clean Plate Cleanse!
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Pittsburgh's Top 10 in April

Pittsburgh's Top 10 in April

The 10 best things to do in April in Pittsburgh.
20 Great Biking & Hiking Trails in Western Pennsylvania

20 Great Biking & Hiking Trails in Western Pennsylvania

Each trail has been lovingly constructed and maintained, using old infrastructure to reconnect disparate communities.
A Superior Strategy? Kevin Sousa's Big Bet on Braddock

A Superior Strategy? Kevin Sousa's Big Bet on Braddock

Pittsburgh chef Kevin Sousa will draw on a fierce work ethic, community goodwill and faith in his own vision for Superior Motors, the progressive American spot he plans to open this year.
Getting Better Over Time: PNC Park at 15

Getting Better Over Time: PNC Park at 15

Adoration for PNC Park is near-universal. But would the park be the cherished baseball palace it is today if a few early proposals instead had become reality?
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


Everything That's Awesome About Pittsburgh Today
#GottaSee: Pittsburgh-Area College Students' Trick-Shot Video

#GottaSee: Pittsburgh-Area College Students' Trick-Shot Video

Could you do this with a ping pong ball?

Comments


Pittsburgh, only cooler
PittGirl: Jury Still Out on Pittsburgh's Bike Lanes

PittGirl: Jury Still Out on Pittsburgh's Bike Lanes

For now, she suggests critics take the "Seinfeld" approach.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Hidden Gem: Kusuka Indonesian Cuisine in North Huntingdon

Hidden Gem: Kusuka Indonesian Cuisine in North Huntingdon

This off-the-grid restaurant produces a number of authentic Indonesian dishes.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
5 Great Places in Pittsburgh to Practice Your Downward Dog

5 Great Places in Pittsburgh to Practice Your Downward Dog

Get a workout for your mind AND body (and maybe find some inner peace) at these local yoga studios.

Comments


Braddock's Brew Gentlemen Receive the Silver Screen Treatment

Braddock's Brew Gentlemen Receive the Silver Screen Treatment

The new documentary "Blood, Sweat and Beer" is a great way to kick off Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week.

Comments


A Sneak Peek at Downtown’s New Market St. Grocery

A Sneak Peek at Downtown’s New Market St. Grocery

The store will stock local and imported produce, meats and gourmet items. Plus, it’s a coffee bar, wine bar and cocktail bar!

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
The Perfect Shades

The Perfect Shades

Top off your summer ensemble — and protect your eyes — with these bright-pink Ray-Ban sunglasses.

Comments


This week's buzz from the PM editors
JFilm Festival Kicks Off at the Manor Theater

JFilm Festival Kicks Off at the Manor Theater

See a few under-the-radar flicks at this annual event, which runs through April 26.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
Pittsburgh Couples Whose Online Meetings Led to Marriage

Pittsburgh Couples Whose Online Meetings Led to Marriage

Some people may be hesitant to try online dating, but these couples avoided the pitfalls.

Comments


The latest tips and trends to refresh your home.
Sewickley Home Store Hosts Spring Fling

Sewickley Home Store Hosts Spring Fling

Pick up something fabulous for your home this Friday.

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education
It's Spring Carnival Time at CMU

It's Spring Carnival Time at CMU

Carnegie Mellon's popular event, running Thursday through Saturday, combines buggies, bots, booths and more.

Comments


Thinking outside the box (score)
Everyone Expects the Penguins to Lose. Perfect.

Everyone Expects the Penguins to Lose. Perfect.

Maybe this is exactly what the team needs –– to win.

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