I want to advise you not to try this at home, but really you should. Especially if you happen to be a marathon runner in need of a carb load or someone who is trying to put on weight. (ie: not me.)
For the first week of July, I can’t help but be swept up by the Stampede, and inevitably a pot of canola oil shows up on my stovetop with which to fry corn dogs and mini donuts, which goes along way toward winning friends and influencing people. This year I was challenged to make deep-fried mac & cheese; a midway staple that popped up a few years ago, but the novelty has worn off in the presence of newer deep-fried products with higher gross-out factors, like deep fried Coke, Oreos, and this year – jellybeans. (For those of you who are curious how one might deep-fry Coke, they just make a sort of beer batter with Coke and flour, and dribble it into hot oil. The result is a little like those crispy bits you get in the bottom of your fish & chips box, only sweeter. I can’t imagine the markup on this particular product.)
I am more old school – mini donuts (but only from the vendors with the yellow and orange sign – preferably the one closest to Weadickville) maybe a Fiddlestick (those slabs of vanilla ice cream dipped in chocolate and doused in chopped nuts), and Mike and I always share a corn dog, which is enough for me for the year. When in Rome, you know.
As it turns out, deep-fried mac & cheese is a lot like far more refined arancini, which is not at all balked at, and in fact those with appreciative palates have been known to pay upwards of $8 at certain Italian groceries about town for one. And although it might be a little more lowbrow, it’s simple to make. Just like risotto, mac & cheese solidifies overnight in the fridge, so that you can cut it into neat cubes which are easily rolled in shallow bowls of flour, beaten egg and Panko (in that order), and fried in hot oil. They are crispy on the outside, soft and cheesy within. (They reminded me of those old-fashioned marshmallows dipped in coconut.) I made some for CBC this morning, and fortunately my sister and her kids popped in around dinnertime and kindly allowed me to pawn off the rest. Otherwise I’m sure it would have whined at me from the fridge until I put it out of its misery.
Deep-fried Mac & Cheese
1 batch macaroni and cheese, from a recipe or a box of that white cheddar stuff
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
2 cups Panko (Japanese breadcrumbs) or breadcrumbs
canola oil, for frying
Prepare the macaroni and cheese and pour it into a pan – a 9″x5″ loaf pan works well, or a 9″x9″ square pan. Cover and refrigerate overnight, or until solid.
When ready to fry them, put the flour, eggs and Panko in three shallow dishes; beat the eggs a little with a fork. Heat the oil in a deep pot until a bit of bread sizzles when put in, but the oil is not smoking. Cut the macaroni and cheese into blocks about 1″ x 1 1/2″, roll each in flour to coat, then dip in the egg, and coat in breadcrumbs. Fry in the hot oil until crispy and golden. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Serve warm.
Makes about 2 dozen squares.
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