Rod WoodsOnion Rings with Horseradish Dipping Sauce

More fried goodness comin' at yinz! This week, we're beer-battering and stovetop frying sweet, crunchy onion rings. The process really isn't much different than our fried finger foods from preseason weeks one and two, but we'll sub in some new players (er, ingredients). Conversely, the Steelers will largely use the same roster of players in their third matchup of the preseason, and we hope that they make some adjustments to the process. That takes us to the Game Bites!

Game Bites
Kansas City @ Pittsburgh

Having lived in Philadelphia for over 9 years, I've had to look at and listen to Coach Andy Reid for a while now. I had nearly forgotten that he wound up in Kansas City during the offseason and laughed a little when I saw the mustachioed walrus man in red on the sidelines tonight . If any of this seems mean, maybe I'm just bitter about the game. Pittsburgh played considerably better than in the last two match-ups, but the outcome was less than desirable. 

First Quarter: Steelers win the coin toss and defer. KC nearly fumbles on the return, but not quite. Former San Francisco QB Alex Smith in as the starter. 

Timmons is a "tackle machine." Yup. Hood, Worilds and Timmons sack Smith on 3rd and 7.

First drive by PIT offense looks much better than in the previous preseason games. On the second play, Big Ben makes a huge pass completion to Antonio Brown for 39 yard gain, which was followed by another Pittsburgh first down by Dwyer. They couldn't convert on 3rd and 5, so we get another field goal from Suishy.

On the next drive, Steelers' D stop KC on 3rd and 1 bringing up 4th and inches. Reid opts to go for it, but the Steelers stop them again and take over on the Kansas City 21 yard line. Steelers capitalize on it with a Jonathan Dwyer TOUCHDOWN!

There are mad penalty flags on Reid's Chiefs and a pair of catches by Brown and Sanders to end the first quarter.

Second Quarter: Batman (our cat) keeps trying to steal my onion rings. Can you blame him?

Holy crow, Antonio Brown!! He makes a sweet catch, which is then negated by a (questionable) chop block penalty on Dwyer. Tomlin is pissed and we're brought back to 2nd and 22. 

I like how much Bob Pompeani and Edmund Nelson keep picking on Andy Reid for going for it on 4th down on his own 21 yard line in the first quarter. Now every time the Chiefs get to 4th down, it's all "Why not go for it? Heh heh."

Sanders nearly gets a TD catch but does not maintain control of the ball. Suisham field goal attempt is blocked and recovered by KC.

Alex Smith 37 yard run + personal foul penalty on PIT = 1st and goal for the Chiefs. They kick a field goal on 4th and goal, making it 10-3, PIT.

Unnecessary roughness call on Polamalu, giving the Chiefs 12 yards on the play and 15 on the penalty - then, KC touchdown pass to Junior Hemingway with 18 seconds left in the half. Dang dang two minute drill. Also, Junior Hemingway? I'm starting to think Kate was onto something regarding stage names for NFL players.

Score at the half: tied 10-10 

Also, I was really jealous of Edmund Nelson's rib platter during the halftime report.

Third Quarter: Gradkowski in at QB for PIT, first team offense still in, though no luck on the first drive.

Then, what we've all been waiting for: Keisel forced fumble and Polamalu recovery!! Da Beard did a nice job of knocking that sucker loose. Sadly, the offense fails to capitalize.

New acquisition Felix Jones was whatevs during the first half. He sees the ball more throughout the third quarter and starts looking better and better (and less "whatever").

Gradkowski 34 yard pass to Wheaton for a PIT TD!!

And just like that, KC returns the punt for 109 yards and a touchdown in the very next play. 

Fourth Quarter: Moye gets a first down (immediately following a Moye first down that ended the 3rd quarter), has a few close calls near the end zone, but the Steelers fail to score. The field position is good enough for a FG, giving PIT a 3 point lead - 20-17.

Jarvis Jones interception is called back due to a pass interference penalty and he gives us all a pretty big scare, staying down after he's hit. Word on the internet is some variation of a chest injury. Crossing our fingers in hopes that the big guy will be alright! 

KC offense stopped by Shamarko Thomas on 4th on 2! I can't believe they really went for it again... with over seven minutes left in the game.

Chiefs get the ball back and make a 38 yard field goal with 1:32 remaining in the game, tying it up at 20-20. Then a lot of inconsequential back and forth goes on through the end of regulation, bringing us to...

Overtime: KC wins coin toss, gets the ball first. Big Ben cracks a joke at the ref. 

Steelers' D drives the Chiefs' O line back hard, but fails to stop them repeatedly on 3rd downs. KC comes to 4th and 1 and opts to go for it rather than kicking a FG. (That rascal, Andy Reid is at it again.) They successfully convert for a new set of downs aaand make a touchdown pass for the win. Whatabummer. 

Final Score: 26-20, KC

Let's talk Rod Woodson. I'm going to try something a little different this time around. Rather then giving you my thoughts on and recollections of the 1990s cornerback, I'm going to draw upon his biography, as printed in the menu from his Station Square restaurant and bar, Woodson's All-Star Grille. I love the internet.

"To some people, Rod Woodson is scary. Very scary. Not to those who sit with him on the board of the local Leukemia Society. Not to his wife, Nicki, son, Demitrius and daughter Marika with whom he lives quietly in Wexford. And not to his teammates on the Pittsburgh Steelers. 

The people Rod Woodson scares are the ones who line up across from him every Sunday during the NFL season. And they're scared for good reason. They're scared because Rod brings a certain intensity to the game. In a physical game, he is a very physical player. With a rare combination of speed, size and strength not found in most cornerbacks.

And it is just this rare talent that has made him, in the minds of Steelers fans, sportswriters and armchair quarterbacks everywhere, the greatest cornerback to ever play the game of professional football. But in his own mind, Rod is just a regular guy who once told a reporter for The Journal Gazette, 'I never thought in my wildest dreams I would play in the NFL.'

Every year just seems to get better and better for Rod. And that includes the opening of Rod Woodson's All-Star Grille. You can be sure that the same commitment to excellence that's made his football career so great goes into every dish we serve. Or Rod's name wouldn't be on the door."

Okay, my turn. I was lucky enough to eat at Woodson's in Station Square at least once in my childhood, though I really couldn't tell you now if I ordered the "Red Hot Chili Poppers" or the "Woodson Burger." 

Rod Woodson played cornerback for the Steelers for an entire decade, from 1987-1996. Unfortunately, the restaurant didn't open until 1995 - one year before he departed for San Francisco. Woodson would go on to spend a few seasons with the Baltimore Ravens (boo) and the Oakland Raiders before retiring in 2004. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2009, his first year of eligibility. He served as cornerbacks coach for the Raiders during the 2011 season and finally came full circle, currently serving as a coaching intern this year with the Steelers during training camp and preseason! $Bill and I got to see him at camp in Latrobe last week. It was pretty cool. 

Woodson's All-Star Grille had something called "Foot O' Onion Rings" on their appetizer menu, the explanation being, "We sell 'em by the foot so you can eat 'em by the yard!" I'm not going to stack mine by the foot, but knock yourself out and eat as many as you want.

The beer batter is essentially the same as the recipe for last week's Golden Fried Kevin Greene Beans, with a few adjustments. No corn meal this time around and I opted for a lighter-colored beer, using Lancaster Kolsch instead of a lager. I used my new handy-dandy mandolin slicer to make quick work of the onions, but there's nothing wrong with doing it the old fashioned way!  Dicing and slicing onions very rarely affects me, but they got me pretty teary today.

When deciding on a dipping sauce for these little beauties, I couldn't fight the urge to whip up a creamy horseradish dip, à la Outback Steak House. I improvised the ingredients, but it tasted pretty dang close to me.

Who's got six rings?

WE DO! Time to fry...

Rod WoodsOnion Rings with Horseradish Dipping Sauce
A Stiller Nation Snacks N'at Original

For the onion rings
24 oz canola oil for frying*
2-3 medium sized yellow onions, peeled and sliced to 1/4-1/2 inch thickness
2 cups flour
1 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 egg
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 1/2 cup light beer

For the dip
6 tbsp mayo
2 tbsp sour cream
4 tsp creamy horseradish
4 tsp ketchup
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
a pinch cayenne pepper

Whisk together flour, paprika, sugar, salt, baking powder, cayenne and garlic powder in a large bowl. Whisk in egg, vegetable oil and beer until smooth. 

Heat canola oil in cast iron skillet over medium high heat.

Pull apart onion layers from slices and toss one handfull into batter. After about 10 minutes, carefully drop one ring in oil to test temperature. (If it sizzles and begins to turn golden around the edges, it's ready.) Fry in batches of 8-10 rings for about 3-5 minutes per side, then remove with tongs and place on paper towel-lined plates. Continue to drop rings into batter, then into hot oil, flipping and draining on paper towels until finished. (I saved all of the little onion centers for the end to use up remaining batter and fried one batch of little onion nuggets.)

Whisk together mayo, sour cream, horseradish, ketchup, paprika, garlic powder, salt and cayenne in small bowl. Dip, eat and enjoy!

*A tip for disposing of the fry oil - remember not to pour used oil down the drain, as it will very likely clog your sink. If you purchase a 24 oz bottle of oil for this recipe, save the bottle, then return the used oil to the empty bottle using a funnel, and dispose.

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