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You probably don't want to know you can make better-than-restaurant quality onion rings in your own kitchen, but these are the best onion rings I've ever had. The recipe is from Cook's Country June/July 2009 from America's Test Kitchens. Make sure you don't soak the onion rounds longer than 2 hours or they will turn soft and become too saturated to crisp properly. Cider vinegar may be used in place of malt vinegar. Use a candy thermometer to make sure the oil gets to 350 degrees. According to Cook's Country, ordinary yellow onions will produce acceptable rings but sweet onions are preferred. The beer soaking with vinegar and salt softens and flavors the raw onion. If the batter is too thick, the rings will be doughy. Too thin, and it will run off. Add the beer gradually until the batter falls from the whisk to form a ribbon trail. Fry the battered onion rings in small batches and transfer them one at a time to the hot oil so they don't stick together.
- Place onion rounds, 2 cups beer, vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in zipper-lock bag. Refrigerate 30 minutes or up to 2 hours.
- Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat to 350 degrees.
- While oil is heating, combine flour, cornstarch, baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in large bowl.
- Slowly whisk in 3/4 cup beer until just combined (some lumps will remain).
- Whisk in remaining beer as needed, 1 tablespoon at a time, until batter falls from whisk in steady stream and faint trail across surface of batter.
- Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 200 degrees.
- Remove onions from refrigerator and pour off liquid.
- Pat onion rounds dry with paper towels and separate into rings.
- Transfer 1/3 portion of rings to batter.
- One at a time, carefully transfer battered rings to oil.
- Fry until rings are golden brown and crisp, about 5 minutes, flipping halfway through frying.
- Drain rings on paper towel-lined baking sheet, season with salt and pepper, and transfer to oven.
- Return oil to 350 degrees and repeat with remaining onion rings and batter.