IMBB #18 – BLT & Buttermilk Cornmeal Onion Rings

by Jeanne


Summer’s Flying, Let’s Get Frying  hosted by Linda of At Our Table is here. Already this international virtual cook off has served up Cappuccino Semifreddo with Cinnamon Sugar Doughnuts in Singapore; Zucchini Rutabaga Cakes with Tomato Marmalade in Maine and Vietnamese Bahn Xeo Crispy Pancakes in Sydney. So many tasty possibilities!

The BLT, bacon, lettuce and tomato, sandwich is the ultimate summer sandwich.  All ingredients, particularly when locally sourced, say summer at every bite.  The clean, fresh taste of tomato offsets the deep smoky saltiness of crisp-chewy bacon, while lettuce adds cool crunch. Over the years, and usually only in summer, I have worked on many variations on this theme. 

Today’s lunch included the addition of Bay Bread sliced sourdough, Laura Chenel goat cheese, Brokaw Haas avocado, Eatwell rosemary sea salt, and a touch of McEvoy olive oil, to the Early Girl tomatoes, Fatted Calf bacon and Heirloom greens. Yes, yes I know iceberg is the classic but I’m not a fan and it has zero nutritional value. I know I also skipped the mayo for olive oil–variations allow for creativity.

I’ve been thinking about this sandwich all week. I also had picked up some Walla Walla sweet onions from the Healdsburg farmers market.  Homemade onion rings would accompany this beauty.

The onion rings were a bit of a made up recipe.  I knew I wanted them to be buttermilk but I wanted a crunch.  In to a bowl filled with room temperature water went the rings of sliced onions. This is something I learned from Marcella Hazen. It removes any bitterness. Based on another chef’s tip for an extra crispy exterior from Michael Chiarello (dreamy boy to have in the kitchen) and his show Napa Style I made a flour mixture of organic brown rice flour and organic cornmeal with a bit of Tierra Vegetables paprika. (Note it turns out the show was over simplifying the process–it’s an aborino rice flour mix you create.)  In yet another bowl I placed some panko, (Japanese bread crumbs).

Fryer These were cooked in my Waring Pro 200 deep fryer.  This fryer is a workhorse.  It has a built-in temperature gauge, timer and draining basket. In all seriousness I shouldn’t have a deep fryer in my kitchen as the temptation for homemade donuts, plantain chips and now onion rings is too easy.   

And, sweet mother I may have over done it.   Yesterday’s lunch necessitated a 2 hour post-lunch hike to work off the indulgence. But if I do say so myself, this was the most satisfying lunch I’ve made in a long time.

Buttermilk Cornmeal  Onion Rings
Serves 2 (somewhat generously)

2 large sweet onions

1/2 cup rice flour

1/2 cup cornmeal

1 tbspn paprika or cayenne

1 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup panko

Vegetable oil for deep-frying


Slice onions into thin rings; place into a bowl of room temperature water. Pour buttermilk into a separate bowl. Combine flour, cornmeal and paprika into a separate bowl. Mix well.  Place panko into another bowl.

Dip rings into buttermilk and coat thoroughly. Shake excess off and dredge in flour mix, shake off and then dredge into panko. Heat oil to 375 degrees; when hot, add rings and fry for 4 to 5 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.