Wednesday, March 19, 2014

52WoC Week 10: Australian - Baked Bloomin' Onion

I spent a lot of time searching the web, researching various recipes to do that screamed AUSTRALIA. I found a bunch of interesting desserts, some fascinating soda breads, and a lot of great sounding lamb dishes but I couldn't find one dish that exemplified Australia or was the must make dish. So I set off for the grocery store figuring I would decide what to make when I arrived. On the way there I passed an Outback Steak House and my brain went into overdrive. There are four things Americans are taught about Australia:

  • Fosters is the only beer in Australia
  • All shrimp have to go on the barbie1
  • Vegemite goes on toast
  • Outback is an authentic restaurant and 100% represents the views of the one and only nation continent2
  • With that in mind I got to thinking, Outback is known for their juicy flavorful steaks but they do have one unique selling point: the Bloomin' Onion. That massive flower of onion filled with grease and black pepper only to be dipped in a knockoff tiger sauce3. Maybe it's just me, but I remember waiting in the absurdly long line at Outback hoping the beeper like device would buzz and light up. This went on for what seemed to be hours but reprieve came in the form of free samples of Bloomin' Onion. When I was a child, this was like Auntie Anne's pretzels samples multiplied by a million. I knew if I was going to make mock Australian food, the Bloomin' Onion was clearly the pick.

    So why bake it instead of fry it? The reason is really simple: frying is such a massive pain in the ass. Since most of us don't have deep fryers, the process of taking out a big pot, getting the oil to the right temp, and making sure you don't' light the entirety of your house on fire is quite an arduous task. Baking makes this so much easier as you don't have to deal with any of the major concerns of frying. It won't taste quite as good as it's fried counter part but it will still pull apart perfectly and be delicious. There is something about the combination of that horseradish sauce and the that great crust hiding the tender onion that is quite magical. Maybe it's because growing up I was obsessed with this appetizer but I think the reality is, the Bloomin' Onion is just tasty.

    Baked Bloomin' Onion

    Qty Ingredient Procedure
    1 large onion (sweet or white)
    1. Preheat oven to 450°F.
    2. Cut into eighths with 1/2 inch at the bottom to hold it together.
    3. Place in ice water for 10 minutes.
    1 cup flour
    1. Combine the flour and spices.
    2. Dry off the onion best as possible and separate petals as much as possible. Place in the flour and shake about.
    2 tsp paprika
    1 tsp kosher salt
    1 tsp cayenne pepper
    2 tsp black pepper
    1/2 cup milk
    1. Combine egg and milk and put the onion in the egg mixture.
    2. Shake off excess egg mixture. Put the onion back in the flour mixture. Shake off the excess.
    3. Put on a rack and spray with cooking spray.
    4. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.
    2 eggs
    1/4 cup mayonnaise
    1. To make the dipping sauce, combine the mayonnaise, horseradish, and ketchup. Finish with fresh black pepper
    1 tsp ketchup
    1 tsp prepared horseradish

    Get your oven going at 450°F. Cut the top of your onion off and carefully cut the onion into eighths. Make sure to leave about half an inch at the bottom to keep the onion together, you don't want this sucker falling apart on you. Place petal side down into a container filled with ice water. This will help make the petals of the onion expand making it easier to bread. Soak in the ice water for about ten minutes.

    Meanwhile, start creating your egg wash and breading. Combine your flour and various spices in a container that has a lid and can fit the onion. This makes it easier to bread as you can just shake it around. For the egg wash, combine the egg and milk; you are going to end up pouring this over the onion so don't worry about the size of the container. Remove the onion from the ice water and dry thoroughly. Place petal side down in the flour container. Put the lid on and gently shake. Check to see if you have sufficient coating between all the petals. If not, gently separate the petals by and hand and shake again. Once thoroughly coated, place the onion petal side up in a bowl. Pour the egg wash mixture over the onion, again, trying to get every petal covered; remove any excess. Return the onion to the flour container petal side down and shake gently until completely covered.

    The most critical thing to making sure this onion comes out crispy is to make sure its raised off the baking sheet. I put it on the wire rack from my toaster oven. If you have troubles making your onion stand up, make a ring of aluminum foil to wrap around the base to help it stand up. Thoroughly spray the onion with non-stick spray. You want to thoroughly cover it in spray. Bake for 20-25 minutes until it is golden brown and the onion is tender.

    While the onion is cooking, you can make the essential dipping sauce. Simply combine the mayonnaise, ketchup, and prepared horserasish. Optionally, add black pepper if you want even more peppery bites.

    1. Took me a long time to accept that barbie is how you spell barbie. Barbe made more sense to me but Wikipedia disagreed with me. You can't fight Wikipedia.  
    2. Clearly I'm joking. Utmost respect for Australia and it's cuisine. I just thought it would be funny to make a Bloomin' Onion as a celebration of America's ethnocentricity.  
    3. Tiger sauce is a combination of horseradish and mayonnaise that is common for pit beef in Baltimore.  

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