The Pioneer Woman Tasty Kitchen
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Fried Mac and Cheese Balls

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Level: Intermediate

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Description

These little bundles of cheese are perfect for your party spread. They are the perfect finger food!

Inactive Time: 2 hours.

Ingredients

  • 16 ounces, weight Elbow Macaroni
  • ¾ teaspoons Salt
  • ½ cups Unsalted Butter
  • ½ cups All-purpose Flour
  • 4 cups Whole Milk
  • ½ teaspoons Black Pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon Cajun Seasoning
  • 2 cups Sharp Cheddar Cheese, Shredded
  • 2 cups Monterey Jack Cheese, Shredded
  • 4 strips Crispy Bacon, Fully Cooked And Diced
  • 1 quart Vegetable Oil, Plus More As Needed For Frying
  • 1 cup Panko Bread Crumbs
  • 1 cup Traditional Bread Crumbs, Unseasoned
  • 1 whole Egg
  • 1 Tablespoon Water
  • 1 cup Salsa, Store-bought (optional)

Preparation

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 30 minutes).

Once your mac and cheese has chilled, heat the vegetable oil in a large Dutch oven or deep fryer to 350ºF (use a thermometer). If you are using a Dutch oven, make sure the oil fills the pot halfway.

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. Beat 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, or they may fall apart when you go to fry them. 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 the mac and cheese balls. At this point, you can fry 2-3 at a time, making sure to not overcrowd the pot.

Serve immediately with salsa. Enjoy!

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