Saturday, January 30, 2010

Rocco DiSpirito's Faux Onion Rings with Smoky Mayonnaise

I'm sure you've all seen Rocco DiSpirito on one talk show or another recently.  He's been everywhere promoting his new book, Now Eat This, 150 of America's Favorite Comfort Foods all under 350 Calories.  Not that I mind, Rocco is pretty easy on the eyes as I'm sure you would agree.  Anyway, when Steve and I watched him promote his new healthy cookbook on Rachael Ray, Steve commented on these onion rings and said that I should try them.  They looked great and since they were healthy they sounded like the perfect addition to my not very healthy Steakhouse themed dinner. 

My review of this recipe is completely honest so please read through to the very end.  The recipe isn't hard to make at all and had I not been rushing I think they would have come out better.  First let me just say that finding whole wheat panko is not easy.  I found one small package and paid about $4 for it.  Seems like a lot for breadcrumbs.  That being said, I will try them with regular panko bread crumbs because I think they will still be healthy.  They are baked not fried, made with egg whites instead of whole eggs, and whole wheat flour is used over white.  Correct me if I'm wrong but won't regular white panko bread crumbs be just as good?  I've even seen seasoned panko and I think that would really up the flavor here.  The onion rings definitely had crunch and texture which is what I really liked.  I didn't like the dryness of all that wheat.  Maybe it's my fault, maybe I overcooked them, it certainly wouldn't be the first time I messed up.  I know the other problem was that I completely forgot to spray them with cooking spray and sprinkle them with salt and pepper.  That was a huge mistake because the outside had no taste at all.  That's what happens when you're chit chatting , running late, and trying to cook a new recipe at the same time.  The next day I experimented with the leftovers and sprayed them with cooking spray and seasoned them with salt.  To be honest, they weren't bad for leftovers.  These aren't the kind of things that are better the next day but they were so much more edible with that little bit of oil and salt.  So, I think that when I try it again (and I will), I will use seasoned panko, spray them with oil and make sure I don't forget the salt.

Sorry this is post is so long, I'll try to wrap it up.  Rocco's seasoned mayo called for liquid smoke.  I didn't feel compelled to buy it for this recipe so I added, smoked paprika, bbq spice, salt and hot sauce to a little mayo.  It was tasty and it had to have been better than Rocco's because smoked paprika has a ton of flavor and the color made it very appealing.

So even though I had some issues I would try this again.  If you try them let me know what you think and if you follow the recipe exactly or with any changes.

Rocco DiSpirito's Faux Onion Rings with Smoky Mayonnaise
as seen here on Rachael Ray's Daytime show.

Serves 4


4 large Vidalia onions, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices

2 cups skim milk
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups whole wheat panko breadcrumbs
4 large egg whites
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Nonstick cooking spray
3/4 cup Rocco’s Magnificent Mayonnaise or store- bought reduced- fat mayonnaise such as Hellmann’s Low- Fat Mayonnaise Dressing
1 tablespoon liquid smoke, such as Stubs’s
Tabasco sauce


Separate the onions into individual rings. Use only the larger rings for this recipe; reserve the smaller rings for another use. You should have 20 rings total. Lay the rings in a single layer in a large rectangular baking dish. Pour the milk over the rings and allow them to soak for about 20 minutes, turning them once so that all surfaces of the onion rings have been exposed to the milk.

Preheat the oven to 425˚F. Place wire baking racks on each of two foil- lined baking sheets, and set them aside.

Put the flour in a shallow dish. Put the panko in a small dish.In a large bowl, whip the egg whites with a whisk until they are extremely foamy but not quite holding peaks.

Working in batches, remove the onion rings from the milk and dredge them in the flour, shaking off any excess. Add the rings to the egg whites and toss to coat completely. Add the rings, a few pieces at a time, to the panko and coat completely.

Spread the onion rings out on the wire racks. Season the rings generously with salt and pepper, and spray them lightly with cooking spray. Bake until the panko is golden brown and crispy and the onions are tender, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise and the liquid smoke. Season to taste with Tabasco.

Serve the onion rings with the mayonnaise for dipping.

Click here for a printable recipe for Rocco's Faux Onion Rings.


Christyrenee said...

Those look really good Michele! I love onion rings and I really love Rocco!! He's so cute =) I had no idea he had a new cookbook out. I have a coupon for Border's too ;) I might just be making a trip there later. I don't recall ever seeing wheat panko myself. Just white. The smoky mayonnaise sounds really good too!!

Dawn said...

I love love love homemade onion rings with a kicked up sauce!

Michele said...

Thanks ladies! I'm glad you like them!

Christy I don't think it's out yet. Check the link I put on the post. I think it can be preordered. PS - I went with Entertaining at Home!

Bob said...

Heh, I'll take your word for it that he's easy on the eyes, I've never heard of the man. ;)

The recipe sounds good (they look great too!), but I could see how forgetting the salt would make them less tasty. I've done that with bread a couple times, it's always upsetting.

You know, liquid smoke is good stuff, I highly recommend it. It's not scary chemical flavorings and it keeps forever too. Course smoked paprika is also a good time. Heh.

Spryte said...

I have no idea who Rocco is... but those look great!! I'd definitely try them with regular or seasoned panko.

Liquid smoke isn't expensive and is very handy to have. It's often near the BBQ sauce or Worcestershire sauce. But your sauce sounded GREAT!

Michele said...

Bob and Spryte - He used to have a reality TV show about him starting up a new restaurant. He has a ton of cookbooks and is on the today show a lot. Google him...he's hot!

Michele said...

Oh and about the liquid smoke. Just didn't think I'd ever use it again. I'll pick it up if I ever see it. Thanks!

joylynn4 said...

I'm so glad you tried these out for all of us Michele! I remember when we were talking about this recipe and wondering how they would turn out. I agree with you on that 'whole wheat' taste you're talking about. I'm going to take your suggestion and use the regular panko when I try this.

Jen said...

yum! I love your recipes!

ARLENE said...

I don't watch Rachel Ray, so I missed seeing Rocco and hearing about this cookbook, which sounds right up my alley. After searching long and hard for ww panko, I found them and used them recently for chicken cutlets. They are wonderfully crunchy, but a tad drier than the regular. For the little bit of fiber, I'll stick to the regular in the future. I'll definitely try these. The Hungry Girl version with Fiber One were foul-tasting. Yours look very good.

Michele said...

Joy/Arlene - I think with regular panko these will be fantastic. Oh and Arlene, I returned the Hungry Girl cookbook when I saw that so many of the recipes used fiber one cereal. I just knew it wouldn't work for me.

Jen - Thank you so much! That means a lot!

Culinary Alchemist said...

OMG OMG OMG OMG I think I just died and went to heaven!!!!!! This is awesome! I no longer have to deny myself onion rings! I suppose I should not be surprised that this is a Rocco recipe... Aside from Alton Brown, he is my hero... LOL Thanks for sharing this one Michele!

Patti T. said...

I used to watch that show with Rocco, loved how close he was with his Mom. I don't eat onions but I think too they would be better with the regular panko and your sauce sounded delicious!

Giovanna said...

yum I love onion rings! You look so cute in your picture cooking !! : )

Cathy said...

Oh, I love onion rings. Today I looked for the whole wheat Panko bread crumbs, but only succeeded in finding regular whole wheat bread crumbs. I'll combine them with the panko and see what I get. The mayo sounds awesome--and I have liquid smoke. Good thing it last for a long time because I ended up with two bottles for some reason, LOL. Thanks for the recipe! :)

Antonietta said...

Wow under 350 calories? These are tempting!

teresa said...

i'm really excited about the cookbook, thanks for letting us know. the onions rings look great!

Lynda said...

These look so crisp and good...I didn't know there was a wheat panko.
I've left seasoning out of things before too- I try to do too many things at once.
I love your addition of smoked paprika to the sauce; I'm sure it added much more flavor than liquid smoke!

Sara said...

These do sound good in theory, but that is a lot of whole wheat. Personally, I think buying bread crumbs is always expensive since it's so easy to make them at home. I'll try this recipe, but I'll likely half it since you didn't seem so impressed with the leftovers. Thanks for sharing.

Danielle said...

They look great and the mayo dip sounds wonderful. I can see how the whole wheat flour wouldn't have least not the kind we're use to. I don't know anything about white panko vs wheat, but i'd think wheat is healthier.

Kim said...

Rocco is certainly easy on the eyes!! I see what you mean about whole wheat panko. I would probably just use regular, but it does sound like a great recipe!

Sophie said...

Aww, I'm sorry they didn't taste the way you wanted 'em too, but they look crunchy and tasty to me. I'm impressed that they're baked! Man, I miss onion rings :D.

Tresa said...

I am so addicted to onion rings! I'm making these this week end. I'll let you know the outcome. Thanks for all the great recipes. Never heard of Rocco, I've got to look him up!

Chef Chuck said...

Hello Michelle, A little cold beer and we are on our way! Very nice :)

effie said...

Homemade onion rings are the best. You can always get quality and not full of flour.
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