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Taste test: crispy onions

My favorite restaurant salad has a pile of fresh greens, blue cheese crumbles, warm slices of rare steak and delicious crispy onions. I have tried to reconstruct the salad at home, but the onions have been the hardest part. Our tasters set out to help, sampling six brands of store-bought crispy onions. Luckily, they found a couple that will work in my homemade salad, as well as many other home-style meals.

Kathy Saunders, Times correspondent

Product/Score

(out of 100)
Fresh Gourmet 77Winn-Dixie 70Chef's Finest 61
Judges'

comments
A couple of panelists said these crispy onions were good enough to eat right out of the package, as a snack. They liked the crispy-salty combination as well as the size and shape of the onion pieces. "These would be perfect sprinkled over a hot baked potato," said one judge. Another described the onions as the "perfect topping" for any number of foods, from green bean casseroles to soups and stews, adding, "They are pure oniony goodness."Judges favored the Winn-Dixie onions for their bold flavor. They tasted a variety of seasonings, like garlic, salt and pepper, along with the perfect balance of onion and coating. "They are chunky and dosed with the right amount of grease," said one panelist. Another said he didn't think they had a strong onion taste, but he liked what he described as a buttery blend in the coating. "These are greasy in a really good way," said a panelist who would use these crispy onions on "anything cooked on the grill."The added pepper made all the difference in these crispy onions. Judges said the strong flavor would make the onions especially good on hearty meat dishes. "These crunch correctly and they aren't too oily," said one taster. "Yummy," said another. "These could liven up lots of bland meals."
Would

they buy?
Three of the four judges said yes.All four judges said yes.Two of the four judges said yes.
Shopping information$1.99 for a 3.5-ounce pouch from Sweetbay.$2 for a 4-ounce pouch.$1.32 for a 4-ounce pouch from Walmart.


Also Sampled: French's ($2.98 for a 6-ounce container from Walmart, 33 points); Lars Own ($3.99 for a 4-ounce cup from the Fresh Market, 10 points); and Great Value French Fried Onions ($1.28 for a 3-ounce pouch from Walmart, 31 points).

Panelists: Kay Hodnett, personal chef; John Hehn, foodie and owner of All Brite Lighting & Power Design Inc.; Wayne Conery, manager of the R-Bar on Treasure Island; and Jeff Jensen, public information officer for the city of Treasure Island. All foods were tasted blind.

Send suggestions for product testing to: Taste section, Tampa Bay Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731 or email them to jkeeler@tampabay.com. Please put TEST SUGGESTION in the subject line. To read past Taster's Choice columns, go to

tampabay.com/things-to-do/food/tastetest.

Serving size1 1/2 tablespoons2 tablespoons2 tablespoons
Calories404035
Fat/Fiber3g / 0g2.5g / 0g2g / 0g
Sugars/Sodium0g / 30mg0g / 40mg0g / 50mg
Carbs/Protein3g / 1g3g / 0g4g / 0g

Taste test: crispy onions 03/17/14 [Last modified: Monday, March 17, 2014 5:53pm]
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