Welcome to Clubhouse Eats, where we celebrate the game’s most delectable food and drink. Hope you brought your appetites.
Every year, a field of the world’s best golfers visit Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club for the Valspar Championship, hoping to avoid a “snake bite” from the Copperhead Course’s final three holes — a trio infamously known as the Snake Pit. Conversely, plenty more members and guests — even resort employees — make a point to visit Innisbrook’s Market Salamander Grille throughout the year with the intention of taking delicious bites out of the restaurant’s famous onion rings.
For more than a dozen years, these mouth-watering, colossal fried onion rings have graced the grille’s menu, and their recipe — including the details for the accompanying Sriracha-spiked, aioli-like dipping sauce — has remained a secret ever since. Unfortunately, this story isn’t going to change that. (We tried our best to pry the recipe from the hands of the resort’s culinary team; but Gilbert Bolivar, Innisbrook’s director of food and beverage, held onto those secrets the way Tiger Woods held onto Sunday-afternoon tournament leads in his prime.)
“We are constantly asked by our members and guests how we make them,” he says. “But we really want to keep that secret sauce, as you might say, close to the heart here at Innisbrook.”
Although we can’t give you step-by-step directions to making these signature onion rings at home, Bolivar did share some tips that will help you get close (and at least make excellent onion rings in general). As for Innisbrook’s famous rings, they’re covered in a tempura batter made with tonic water and then coated in a crumb mixture that includes grated parmesan and chopped cilantro.
But before either of those things occurs, the super colossal onions (essentially, extra-large yellow onions) are first peeled and cut by hand and then soaked in ice water over night. The cold bath draws moisture out of the onion, much like how the same process draws starch out of hand-cut French fries. And in both cases, it leads to a crispier finished product.
After the onion rings have soaked overnight, remove them from the water, peel away any remaining thin membranes, and let them air dry completely—it’s imperative that they’re devoid of moisture before being battered. “Really letting them dry for that second day is key,” says Bolivar.
Once you’ve battered and coated the onions with any crumb mixture (if you’re going that route), all that’s left to do is fry them in vegetable or canola oil at 350 degrees for five minutes. According to Bolivar, the rings that will emerge from that hot oil will “hold their composure, their texture, and the breading.”
If you’ve previously experienced Innisbrook’s famous onion rings, there’s a chance these tips will have you making equally delicious fried onions at home. If not, you’ll just have to plan your next trip to the Floridian resort, where the staple appetizer is always on the menu.
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