A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from March 18, 2008
Tobacco Onions

"Tobacco onions” were created by celebrity chef Dean Fearing at The Mansion on Turtle Creek in Dallas, Texas, in the 1980s. Red and yellow onions are floured, sprinkled with paprika and cayenne pepper, and fried, with the finished product looking like “tobacco.”

“Tobacco onions” have been imitated and served at other restaurants throughout Texas and other parts of the United States.


TravelLady Magazine
Dean Fearing
Executive Chef, The Mansion on Turtle Creek

by Madelyn Miller
Such notable personages as Her Majesty The Queen of England and Presidents George Bush and Bill Clinton have expressed delight upon tasting the Southwest Cuisine prepared by The Mansion on Turtle Creek in Dallas.  Its creator, Chef Dean Fearing, was at the forefront of developing the new Southwest cuisine genre when he became The Mansion’s executive chef in 1985.

Unrelentingly creative, the exuberant Chef Fearing, winner of the 1994 James Beard Perrier-Jouet Restaurant Award for Best Chef: Southwest and Mobil Five- Star award 1995 - 97, creates new dishes each week.  Most begin with seasonal native ingredients complemented by an intriguing array of flavors from around the world.  The result is both exotic and harmonious.

Drawing inspiration from the backyard barbecues he knew as a child, he recently presented a plate composed of Carne Asado of Ostrich Filet and Papaya Mole Glazed Quail with Smoked Corn Enchilada and a Basket of Condiments.  These adventurous specials are offered on The Mansion’s menu along with Chef Fearing’s now-classic signature dishes such as Warm Lobster Tacos with Yellow Tomato Salsa and Tortilla Soup.

Classically trained at the Culinary Institute of America, Fearing began his career at Maisonette in Cincinnati, followed by The Pyramid Room at The Fairmont Hotel in Dallas.  When The Mansion on Turtle Creek opened in 1980, Fearing came to the restaurant as executive sous chef, a position he resigned to become chef and part owner of the wildly successful Agnew’s restaurant, in Dallas, the home of Southwest Cuisine. There, his daring experiments with products and ideas indigenous to the Southwest drew the attention of Craig Claiborne, then food editor at the New York Times, sparking the beginning of his rise to international prominence.

Shortly thereafter, Dean Fearing “returned home” to The Mansion on Turtle Creek, this time in the position of executive chef.

eLook Recipes
Tobacco onions
Yield: 6 Servings

Ingredients:
1 lg Red onion
1 lg Yellow Spanish onion
3 c Unbleached flour
1 tb Cayenne pepper
1 tb Paprika Salt & pepper to taste
5 c Canola oil for frying

Instructions:
from Chef Dean Fearing at The Mansion on Turtle Creek in Dallas Texas.
These onion rings have a decidedly Southwestern taste and a browned shrivelly appearance that led him to call them ‘tobacco onions’ because of their resemblance to tobacco shreds. Peel and slice the onions thinly then separate into rings. Mix the flour and the seasonings in a bowl. Heat the canola oil in a deep heavy pan or deep-fryer to about 350 degrees. Dredge the onion rings in the seasoned flour shaking off the excess and fry until golden brown. Do small batches at a time so the rings don’t stick together and don’t dredge the rings until they’re ready to go into the oil or they’ll give off too much moisture. Drain on paper towels. Keep warm until the rest of the onions are done. Serve immediately.
Source: The San Francisco Chronicle June 10 1992

15 October 1987, Park Cities People (Dallas, TX), pg. 8, col. 3:
The Mansion on Turtle Creek Cookbook is, as Fearing states in his introduction, “truly a cook’s book” and includes many of the well-known favorites such as...Grilled Free Range Chicken with Smoked Pepper and “Tobacco” Onions;...

18 July 1990, Dallas (TX) Morning News:
Tobacco onions, so named for their color, were sprinkled with ground ancho chile. “We had to keep our personal integrity,’ said Mr. Fearing.

Texas Monthly (February 1991)
From Dean Fearing, executive chef at The Mansion on Turtle Creek, 2821 Turtle Creek Boulevard, Dallas
(...)
Tobacco Onions
5 cups peanut oil (or other light oil)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 large yellow or sweet onions, peeled, thinly sliced, and separated into rings

Heat oil to 350 degrees in deep saucepan over medium heat. In medium bowl combine and mix dry ingredients, then add onions and toss to coat. Remove onion rings, shaking off excess flour mixture. Fry a few rings at a time for 10 minutes, until crisp and golden brown. Drain on paper towels.

Tobacco onions are easy to prepare and can also be used as a side dish or an accompaniment to hamburgers.

18 June 1993, Palm Beach (FL) Post:
We also shared a basket of tobacco onions—thin shaved onions, dipped in the lightest of batters and deep fried.

22 July 1993, St. Louis (MO) Post-Dispatch, Calendar section, pg. 12:
... then served under a towering pile of “tobacco onions,” so called because the onions are sliced so thinly that when they turn brown and crisp,

29 April 1994, Chicago (IL) Daily Herald, section 6, pg. 11, col. 3:
A more traditional dish, Dry-Aged Angus Strip Steak with Texas Style Worcestershire Sauce, Cowboys Beans and Tobacco Onions ($17.95) will please the steak eater.
(Review of Zinfandel American Restaurant and Market, owned by Rick and Deana Bayless—ed.)

Google Groups: rec.food.cooking
Newsgroups: rec.food.cooking
From: (Teresa)
Date: 1997/06/16
Subject: Re: Recipe for NYC Sweet Onion Relish Please?

TOBACCO ONIONS
Recipe By:  Mansion on Turtle Creek - Texas Monthly
Tobacco Onions

5 cups peanut oil (or other light oil)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 large yellow or sweet onions, peeled, thinly sliced, and separated into rings

Heat oil to 350 degrees in deep saucepan over medium heat. In medium bowl combine and mix dry ingredients, then add onions and toss to coat. Remove onion rings, shaking off excess flour mixture. Fry a few rings at a time for 10 minutes, until crisp and golden brown. Drain on paper towels.

Tobacco onions are easy to prepare and can also be used as a side dish or an accompaniment to hamburgers.

Google Groups: alt.support.stop-smoking
Newsgroups: alt.support.stop-smoking
From: Mikey S.
Date: Fri, 17 Jan 2003 21:30:22 -0500
Local: Fri, Jan 17 2003 10:30 pm
Subject: Re: Favorite thing about not smoking

http://www.recipegoldmine.com/veg/veg178.html
TOBACCO ONIONS
After they are cooked, they look like shredded tobacco.

5 C. peanut or other light oil
2 large yellow or sweet onions, peeled and sliced very, very thin
1 C. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper

Heat oil to 350°F on a food thermometer in a deep saucepan over medium heat. Combine remaining ingredients in a medium-size bowl and carefully toss to coat onions. Remove onions from flour mixture, shaking to remove excess. Fry a few slices at a time for about 10 minutes or until crisp and golden brown. Repeat until all onions are fried. Drain on paper towel.

Word of Mouth
Wednesday, February 1, 2006
6:44:00 PM EST
“Tobacco Onions”
Yes, that caught my eye, too, as I scanned the online menu at Matisse in the Ayres Hotel, Hawthorne.  They were mentioned as an accompaniment to a beef dish.  Surely this is a misprint of some kind, I mused.  But curious I googled them.  Come to find out Chef Dean Fearing of the Mansion on Turtle Creek, Dallas, coined the expression when he thin-sliced red and yellow onions, dredged them in flour, cayenne and paprika and fried them.  The end result, said Chef Fearing, looked like shreds of tobacco.

Now maybe one can get away with this kind of thing in Marlboro Country, but here in Politically Correct Southern California where smokers are kicked to the curb on a daily basis?  I.  Don’t.  Think.  So.

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (0) Comments • Tuesday, March 18, 2008 • Permalink