As my Dad used to say "I have a Hankering for some onion rings!" I take after him in that I love all things onion. Haven't made onion rings in ages because I could never get the batter right and have nice crunchy rings without a gob of fried dough around them. And I don't like the commercial ones that are just slippery onion worms inside of a loose crust. (You know what I mean, You bite into them and the whole onion slides right out and hits you in the chin and all the crust is still in your hand?) Well, I found a recipe on the net and changed it up a little with some extra spices and a touch of cornmeal. Then when I was convinced I had a real winner, I put them to the test and made Cheesy O Rings. WOOHOO. YESSSSSSSS
Peel and slice your onions and separate into rings. Sprinkle with a little flour and toss to coat very lightly. Place in a bowl or on paper towels til needed.
In a medium sized shallow bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, potato flakes and seasonings (except salt). Whisk your chosen bubbly liquid into the dry mixture well. It will appear thin, but will thicken up from the potato flakes. Set aside until needed.
In another shallow bowl or pie plate, mix the Panko crumbs and cornmeal. Set up your frying station next to the stove or fryer. Onion rings first, batter next and then crumbs closest to the fryer.
Place a wire cooling rack over/into a jelly roll pan and place in the oven at "Keep Warm" or 150°F. Heat oil to 365-375°F in either a deep fryer or a deep, narrow saucepan.
Dip a few of the onion rings into the batter and using a fork, remove from batter and let any excess drip off. Place on the panko crumb mixture and with a DRY fork turn the rings to coat with crumbs. Using either the dry fork or your fingers, drop the rings carefully into the hot oil. Turn the rings once when they get light golden, remove when fully golden and place on the prepared cooling rack. (I put them on a few folded paper towels until I had several batches fried and then transferred them to the rack in the oven.)
As an alternative method, you could dip and coat the rings and then place them on the cooling rack to hold them to fry at a later time. This way you could do the "messy" part first and then turn your attention to frying.
After frying, either salt lightly or sprinkle heavily with Cheddar Cheese Powder and toss to coat. (I bought some bright yellow-orange cheese powder from a local store, but I prefer the white cheese powder from King Arthur Flour listed in ingredients.)