by Mabel Suen
Chef Mike Warhover's approach to "simple food done right" takes classic American fare like burgers, french fries and onion rings to a whole new level with deliberate, effective flavor accompaniments. His recipe for smoked onion rings with chipotle catsup features many levels of subtly complex infusions. It starts with stove-top-smoked onions and a surefire beer batter and ends with golden rings fried to perfection served with a spiced catsup that would make its generic grocery-store counterpart shudder to the back shelves in shame.
Attempt Warhover's approach in your own kitchen and proclaim yourself a deep-fried- victual master! Perhaps the title of condiment king or queen would better suit your kitchen victory.
Smoked Onion Rings
Slice yellow onions 1/2" or 3/4" depending on preference. Smoke rings in a stove top smoker until rings are starting to change in color (10-20 minutes).
1 1/2 c. All-purpose flour 12 oz. Schlafly APA (or any beer depending on preferences)
Dredge onions in flour; shake off excess flour. Dip floured rings into beer batter and place immediately into a 350 degree fryer. Fry until crispy and golden brown (2-4 minutes).
5 lb. canned crushed tomatoes 1 yellow onion (minced) 2 T. minced garlic 1 c. cider vinegar, steeped with: - 1/2 cinnamon stick - 1 bay leaf - 4 allspice berries - 8 black peppercorns - 2 whole cloves 1/2 c. tomato paste 1/2 c. brown sugar 2 T. kosher salt 1 4 oz. can chipotles in adobo sauce
Sweat onions and garlic until translucent. Meanwhile, add vinegar and spices to a sauce pan; bring to a boil; turn off heat and let steep for 10-20 minutes; strain. Once onions are translucent, add tomatoes and slowly simmer for 20-30 minutes. Add strained vinegar, tomato paste, brown sugar and chipotles. Simmer slowly for another 20-30 minutes. Add salt. Blend in small batches in a blender until very smooth. Taste; adjust seasoning as needed. Chill.