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In recent years, the once-mundane onion has escalated in reputation. It began with batter-fried onion rings, blossomed with that much-loved festival fair, the blooming onion, and morphed into the onion loaf. A number of variations on the onion loaf exist, but most begin with battering and frying the onions, then move on to composing the loaf, and finish with baking it in the oven.
One simple approach is to cut four or five yellow or white onions into rings. The onion rings need to soak in a mixture of beaten eggs and milk for about a half an hour. While they’re soaking, the efficient cook is preparing a deep fryer to 375 degrees Fahrenheit (190.5 degrees Celsius).
Next, the onion rings need to take a quick dip into dry pancake or baking mix before they jump into the hot oil. Once they leave the drink, it’s time to fit them into a loaf pan, making sure to pack them tightly but without shoving them in. After just a few minutes in the oven, the cook simply tips the loaf pan upside down over a platter, and the onion loaf slides out.
As with all ultra-delicious food, there are dozens of variations on the onion loaf theme. Cheese lovers have found a way to modify the basic fried-then-baked onion loaf approach to accommodate their personal passions. This version begins with a batter-like dough that incorporates yeast, flour, and eggs as well as a dollop of butter. While the dough rises, the cook skillet fries the onion, which is added to the batter along with the cheese and baked to a golden brown.
Another way to change it up is by skipping the egg and milk in the batter-fried version in favor of buttermilk. This gives the resulting fried and baked onion loaf a bit of a tang. Adding dill to the buttermilk as well as to the baking mix adds a unique flavor.
Carnivores who love their meat loaf but are unwilling to abandon the crunch of a perfect onion loaf can have their loaf and eat it too. This variation works with both the fried and baked loaf approach as well as the battery dough approach. The indulgent cook simply makes a basic meat loaf recipe with ground beef, pork, lamb, or a combination, a raw egg, and some bread crumbs to bind it. A layer of the onions or onion dough is topped with a layer of meat loaf two or three times. The final layer is meat loaf, and the loaf is baked until the meat has cooked through.
The onion loaf was around before the blooming onion. I was eating the loaf 40 years ago in the suburbs of Chicago.