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Fried Onion Dippers with Balsamic Ketchup

Makes 8 servings
  • Active time: 45 min
    Total time: 2 1/2 hr
Don’t say we didn’t warn you! Once you taste our batter-fried onion dippers, those blooming onions and onion rings you’ve always loved will seem so yesterday. These onion dippers may just be the best new invention since someone first thought to fry an onion.

By cutting the onion lengthwise into wedges and then separating them into layers, you end up with gracefully curved pieces. The finger-friendly dippers are battered and fried, transforming them into crisp, lacy-jacketed vehicles perfect for scooping up the sweet and tangy ketchup.

This recipe is part of our Gourmet Modern Menu for Summer Fair Favorites. Click here to view the full menu.
Published in Gourmet Live 05.23.12

INGREDIENTS:

For Balsamic Ketchup:

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 cups ketchup
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

For Onion Dippers:

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cups club soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt plus more for sprinkling
  • 1 (1 1/4-pound) jumbo sweet onion such as Vidalia
  • 1 to 1 1/2 quarts vegetable oil

EQUIPMENT:

  • A deep-fat thermometer

INSTRUCTIONS:

Make Balsamic Ketchup:

  • Cook garlic in oil in a 2- to 3-quart heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring, until golden, about 1 minute.
  • Add vinegar and boil over medium heat until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes.
  • Stir in ketchup, sugar, mustard, cloves, allspice, cayenne (if using), and salt and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes, until it’s thick and well blended.
  • Transfer to a bowl and let cool to room temperature.

Fry Onion Wedges:

  • Heat oven to 200°F.
  • Whisk together flour, club soda, and salt in a bowl until smooth. Trim both ends of onion and then peel it. Halve onion lengthwise, then cut lengthwise into 3/4-inch-wide wedges. Separate wedges into pieces.
  • Heat 2 inches oil in a 4- to 5-quart heavy pot over medium heat until it registers 365°F on thermometer.
  • Working in batches of about 8, toss onion wedges in batter until coated. Lift onion pieces out of batter one at a time, letting excess batter drip off, and carefully transfer to hot oil. Fry onion dippers, turning with a slotted spoon, until golden, about 2 minutes, then transfer with slotted spoon to paper towels to drain. (Return oil to 365°F between batches.)
  • Sprinkle dippers with salt while still hot and keep warm on a rimmed baking sheet in oven until all onions have been fried.

COOKS’ NOTES:

  • The balsamic ketchup keeps chilled in an airtight container indefinitely. It can be used in place of regular ketchup.
  • Like all fried foods, the onions are best when eaten soon after frying, but leftovers can be cooled completely, then arranged in one layer in disposable pans lined with several layers of paper towels, and loosely covered with foil. Chill overnight, then arrange dippers in single layers on large baking sheets and bake in a 350°F oven until hot and crisp, about 15 minutes.
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