Fried Macaroni-and-Cheese Bites
Make way for little squares of heaven -- these fried morsels are sure to be voted most popular at any party. You can (and should) prepare the stovetop macaroni and cheese a few days ahead, since it will firm up in the refrigerator, for easier cutting. Then follow a two-step breading process, using panko instead of regular breadcrumbs for a crust that's crisp yet light. Don't be put off by the yield; the squares fry quickly, in three or four batches, and you can reheat replenishments over the course of the evening -- whenever the platter is wiped clean (which will be often).This recipe originally appeared in Martha Stewart's Appetizers (Clarkson Potter).
- Yield: Makes about 10 dozen
Photography: David Malosh
- Coarse salt
- 1 pound elbow macaroni
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 4 cups milk, room temperature
- 3/4 teaspoon cayenne
- 4 3/4 cups grated white cheddar cheese (about 14 ounces), room temperature
- 1/2 to 3/4 cup safflower oil, for frying, plus more for parchment
- 4 large eggs
- 2 cups panko
In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook macaroni until al dente according to package instructions; drain.
In pot, melt 4 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Whisk in fl our, and cook, stirring frequently, until mixture is pale golden and has a nutty aroma, about 4 minutes. Whisking constantly, slowly add milk. Cook, whisking along bottom of pot, until boiling, about 7 minutes. Reduce heat and gently simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce is thickened, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from heat, and add remaining 1 tablespoon butter and the cheese. Stir until melted and sauce is smooth; season with salt. Add macaroni to sauce, and stir to combine.
Line a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with parchment; brush parchment lightly with oil. Spread macaroni mixture evenly in dish. Cover and refrigerate until firm, at least 8 hours.
Invert set macaroni and cheese onto a cutting board and remove parchment. Cut into 1-inch squares with a sharp knife.
Whisk eggs in a shallow dish. Combine panko and cayenne in another shallow dish, and season with salt. Dip macaroni squares, a few at a time, in eggs, allowing excess to drip off into dish, then roll in panko mixture to coat completely. Transfer to a wire rack set on a baking sheet.
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium until shimmering. Working in batches, add coated squares in a single layer (do not crowd pan); cook, turning occasionally, until all sides are crisp and golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes total. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined rack to drain and cool slightly. Wipe skillet clean. Repeat process with more oil and remaining squares. Serve warm.