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).

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Ingredients

Ingredient Checklist

Directions

Instructions Checklist
  • In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook macaroni until al dente according to package instructions; drain.

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  • In pot, melt 4 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Whisk in flour, 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, the mustard powder, and 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. In a shallow dish, season panko 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.

Cook's Notes

The recipe can be prepared through step 3 up to 3 days ahead. Once fried, the squares can rest on a baking sheet lined with a wire rack up to 1 hour; reheat in a 350 degrees oven (on the rack and sheet), about 5 minutes.

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