Fried Mac ‘n Cheese
When you break out the deep fryer and lots of oil for only one item, it almost feels bad to put everything away again. All that oil, work, and cleaning for just one item. If you already have your fryer out because you were preparing avocado egg rolls or hushpuppies, you might as well keep up the steam and make another party pleaser. Just about everyone loves mac ‘n cheese, so expect these bites to disappear as quickly as they fry! Just don’t share this with your pets – nutmeg is toxic for animals.
48 oz. of peanut oil
4 cups of panko crumbs
3 cups plus 2 tbs. of all-purpose flour
10 oz. of dry elbow macaroni
10 oz. of sharp cheddar cheese
1 pint of half-and-half
6 tbs. of butter
1/3 cup of buttermilk
1/2 tsp. of ground white pepper
1/4 tsp. of ground nutmeg
A few pinches of salt and pepper
Fill a large pot with water to boil, and make it salty “like the sea” (adding about 3 tbs.). Boil the pasta for 1 minute below the recommended time on the packaging. Drain and set aside.
Shred the cheese; the reason we recommend shredding your own block of cheese is because pre-shredded cheese contains cellulose, a fancy word for sawdust, which keeps the shreds from sticking to each other. Spray a baking dish, approximately 9″x13″. The smaller the pan, the thicker the mac ‘n cheese bites will be.
In a small pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add 2 tbs. of flour and cook for 2-3 minutes. Pour in the half-and-half and add the nutmeg and white pepper. Cook until reaching nappe. Stir in the shredded cheese and cook until completely melted, combined, and smooth.
Stir in the cooked macaroni, coating all the elbows well.
Transfer to the sprayed baking dish and spread out evenly and flat with a spatula. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours until it is fully set.
Heat the oil in a deep fryer to 375 degrees F. Take the macaroni from the fridge, run a knife along the sides of the dish to separate it from the macaroni, and cut the mass into squares. Remove the squares from the dish, and then cut them into triangles. Set aside, and prepare the batter station: in one bowl put the 3 cups of flour, in another combine the eggs and buttermilk, and put the panko crumbs in the third. Lightly season the flour and the eggs with a pinch of salt and pepper each, and whisk so that it’s evenly dispersed (but not with the same whisk!). Dredge the macaroni triangles first in the flour, shaking off any excess. Dip in the egg mixture, and let drip off any excess. Coat with panko, gently patting so that they stay up. Place the triangles in the hot oil one at a time. Be careful not to overcrowd the fryer too quickly. Fry for 3-5 minutes, depending on thickness, until golden brown.
Serve with ranch or marinara.