Introduction: Deep Fried Mac & Cheese
While it's not something you'd want to do all the time, if you have a hankerin' for deep frying or are attending a party where insanely rich foods are admired or worshipped, deep-fried mac and cheese may be for you. It's an extremely inexpensive dish, and one that is probably easier to make than you think.
You could use an organic wheat elbow pasta and make the mac and cheese from scratch, but that's not you, is it? Besides, it's a waste of good ingredients. For this recipe, you'll want to go low culture for most of the ingredients:
1 package of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese elbow macaroni
Panko bread crumbs
1 teaspoon nutmeg (1/2 if you are worried about over-spicing or using freshly ground nutmeg)
Dry spices (optional)
1/2 cup flour
1 muffin tin
Vegetable oil (preferably peanut oil)
I don't recommend the classic tube-shaped original Kraft mac and cheese. Get the creamier elbow-shaped version in the similar-looking box, or even better spring for the "deluxe" version with the pourable cheese sauce.
Step 1: Cook and Partially Freeze the Mac and Cheese
You've undoubtedly done the first part of this process before, so get to it and cook the mac and cheese according to the box directions. Let it cool and allow the sauce to thicken. Add 1 teaspoons of nutmeg and any other spices you prefer (e.g., dijon mustard, garlic powder, onion powder, herbe de provence, all-purpose spice mix). Don't be shy with the spices as the act of deep frying will cover up subtle flavors.
Get out your muffin tin and scoop the mac and cheese into each muffin compartment, tamping it down tightly. You don't need to butter the tin. Then, toss this in the freezer for 10-15 minutes to get the mac and cheese to hold together into a hockey-puck shape.
You could try other containers or compartments to shape the mac and cheese "balls" but I found this to be the easiest way, and the hockey pucks look nice on a plate. Round balls are wonderful, but they are harder to achieve.
Step 2: Make a Simple Batter and Breadcrumb Line
Mix your flour with the eggs and as much water as you feel you need to make a simple batter. Milk works if you prefer that to water. You'll want it to be about the consistency of thin pancake batter, or a thick crepe batter.
Add spices — perhaps the same or similar to what you added to the mac and cheese — to give some flavor to the batter. If nothing else, put a liberal amount of pepper into the egg batter.
Pull the mac and cheese disks out of the freezer and pry them out with a knife. Dip into the batter and roll in the panko breadcrumbs. Set aside as you do them all in a batch.
Step 3: Fry the Puck Out of These Things
Ready to do the dirty deed? Heat your oil to 350 degrees and drop those suckers in. You can probably cook half the batch at a time if you have a large deep fryer. I used a large stockpot with a thick base.
Once they're golden brown, take them out and drain on paper towels, Serve hot, if possible.
Want to kick it up yet another notch, Emeril Legasse style? Serve it on a bed of cheese sauce.
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