December 28, 2013
So, I’m not going to lie to you. These are heavenly bundles of cheese and carbohydrates, but we all know that we are trying to have that last big hurrah of unhealthy foods before the New Year begins. Why not go out with a bang? I’m trying to convince myself that it’s ok. It’s partially working. This will be one of my last posts for the holidays. I know, it’s so sad. On the bright side, I will have some delicious healthy recipes up on the blog next week to help you all fulfill those New Year’s Resolutions. Healthy foods can be delicious too! I promise you this! So anyway, this is a traditional stovetop mac and cheese. We formed it into little balls. Doused them in bread crumbs, and fried them. They are delicious, addicting, perfect for New Year’s Eve parties, and even more perfect for game day. Feel free to bookmark this recipe for the Superbowl. You know you want to ;). The only problem with serving this on game day, is that everyone will expect you to make them for every tailgate. This is ok though. They are pretty simple, if you follow the instructions carefully. I hope you all had a fabulous holiday season and are looking forward to the New Year!
Recipe Fun Facts:
I can’t stress enough how important it is to chill the mac and cheese. You will not be able to form them into balls if you don’t. You may possibly burn off your fingers in trying to do this. They will be incredibly difficult to work with. YOU MUST CHILL THE MAC AND CHEESE. It takes about two hours for the mac and cheese to chill completely for me. This may take longer for you (or shorter). After two hours, I suggest checking it. If it’s still warm, either stick it in the freezer or let it chill for longer in the fridge. You could even let it chill overnight. I think this produces the best results.
The bacon is optional. I like bacon in my mac and cheese. If we are going all out, we may as well through some more fat into the mix.
It’s also important to make sure the balls are packed tightly when you form them. If you don’t follow this step, they may fall apart in the oil. We don’t want that!
As is the same for frying most things, the oil must be hot enough to brown the mac and cheese, but not so hot that it burns them right away. 350 degrees is ideal, but anywhere from 325 to 375 will work. Use a frying thermometer. You will appreciate this.
Beer: Dogfish Head’s Olde School Barleywine
Brewed By: Dogfish Head
Style: American Barleywine
ABV: 15% (Note – This fluctuates with each batch. It can be anywhere from 13% to 16% depending on the year.)
Description: This brew is an American Barleywine in the truest sense of the term, but it has some notes that sets it apart. It has been fermented with dates and figs (which are two ingredients I absolutely adore!), and you can pick up a bottle in the Fall in many locations. It’s a great Barleywine that pairs very well with cheeses, which is why I picked it as the perfect pairing for this mac and cheese. It’s a sipping beer and could quite possibly knock you off your feet. It’s delicious though and perfectly soothing.
Fried Mac and Cheese Balls
These fried mac and cheese balls may be just the finger food you need to finish of your New Year’s Eve spread.
16 ounces elbow macaroni
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups whole milk
1 tablespoons cajun seasoning
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
2 cups monterey jack cheese, shredded
4 strips of crispy bacon, fully cooked and diced
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1 cup traditional bread crumbs, unseasoned
1 egg, beaten with a tablespoon of water
vegetable oil, for frying
- Bring a large stock pot of water to a rolling boil, salt the water, and cook the elbow macaroni according to the package’s instructions. Drain and set aside.
- In the same stock pot you used to cook the macaroni, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for 2-3 minutes, continuing to whisk. Very slowly, whisk in the milk, until all has been added. Continue to whisk until the mixture is bubbly and begins to thicken. Now stir in the black pepper, cajun seasoning, cheddar cheese and monterey jack cheese. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the cheese has melted. Stir the cooked macaroni into the cheese mixture until all is incorporated. Continue to cook the mac and cheese for 4 minutes more. Remove from heat and transfer to a bowl. Stir in the cooked bacon. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 2 hours (or if you are in a hurry, freeze the mac and cheese for a half hour).
- Once your mac and cheese has chilled, heat the vegetable oil in a large dutch oven or deep fryer to 350 degrees F (use a thermometer). If you are using a dutch oven, make sure the oil fills the pot half way.
- In a shallow bowl, combine the panko and traditional bread crumbs. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
- In another shallow bowl, add the egg and tablespoon of water. Mix to combine. Set aside.
- Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Remove your mac and cheese from the fridge (or freezer) and begin rolling into 1/4 cup sized balls. Make sure they are densely packed. Transfer to the baking sheet, while you prepare the rest. Roll the balls in the egg mixture and then roll in the bread crumb mixture, making sure they are evenly coated. Very carefully, drop them into the hot oil (I suggest using a heat-safe serrated spoon). Start with just one ball as a tester. Once the ball is golden brown (about 3 minutes), remove from the heat and transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Repeat this step for the rest of your mac and cheese balls. At this point, you can fry 2-3 at a time, making sure to not overcrowd the pan.
- Serve immediately with salsa. Enjoy!
- **See the post above for important notes and tips**
- Hardware: * Measuring Cups * Measuring Spoons * Mixing Bowls * Wooden Spoons * Stock Pot * Whisk * Cheese Grater * Shallow Bowls * Dutch Oven or Deep Fryer * Frying Thermometer * Serrated Spoon * Baking Sheet * Parchment Paper * Paper Towel-Lined Plate *
- Inactive Time: 2 hours