The moment I saw Rocco DiSpirito in Rachael Ray's kitchen cooking up these onion rings, I knew they were a must! Just three days later I put the recipe to test. Kevin is a HUGE fan of onion rings, while I have a fairly non-committal relationship with the fried side dish. I prefer french fries. But the non-fried crunchier version of the onion ring really caught my attention and I must admit I loved these! Kevin said they were as good as they could be having not been deep fried...which I'll take as a "I totally want these again, Mel!"
4 large Vidalia onions, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices (any variety of your favorite onion will do)
2 cups skim milk
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups whole wheat panko breadcrumbs (I used Italian seasoned breadcrumbs and they were fine. Use what you've got.)
4 large egg whites
Salt and freshly ground black pepper (and other other seasonings of your choice)
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 (I didn't have this. So I omitted it.)
Tabasco sauce (Or any hot 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.