Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Fair Day Fried Mac and Cheese Balls

If you've been following my blog for a while you might remember when I had the chance to work with Sargento a couple of years ago.  It was an Allstars project and I had the opportunity to create a recipe using one of their products- I made these Easy Caprese Bite appetizers.  Simple and delicious, right?
Well...ok.  They were absolutely that.  But they weren't over-the-top crazy, cheesy, deliciousness.

Do you know what was?
This recipe for Fair Day Fried Mac & Cheese Balls.

Is there anything about that name that doesn't scream artery-clogging delicious food?
I think not.

Anyway, so this recipe was invented by my fellow Allstar Maria.  I saw it and knew I had to make it.
I've kept this recipe in the back of my mind for TWO YEARS now, just waiting for the right opportunity to put it to use.

Well...have you noticed that it's football season?
I've spent the last few years attempting to cultivate an interest in the sport, and I have to say...I'm there.
It took me a while, but I'm there.  Totally.

It started out as something I could do with my husband and an excuse to cook fun food (both of which it still is!) but um...my husband fell asleep during the Seahawks/Packers game the other night.
I totally stayed up to watch it by myself.

Who cares that I initially picked the Seahawks as "my team" because I liked their uniforms?
A few years into this whole football experiment and I can honestly say they're My Team.  NEVER thought I'd see the day I had a team!

Anyway, so there was this football game, and I needed something fun to feed my family, right?
I knew this was the recipe.  :-) I knew it's time had come.

This is SUCH a fun recipe.  It's simple, but it does require some planning ahead since the macaroni balls have to freeze overnight.

It starts with pasta, gouda, and cheddar...yum, right?

It's a simple but delicious cheese sauce (that I spiked with a generous helping of ground black pepper and some Penzey's Shallot Salt...).  Once the cheese and pasta are mixed it sits in the fridge until it's completely cool.  Then comes the fun part.

After the pasta and sauce have cooled it gets formed into meatball-sized balls- I made mine about 1 1/4".  It's like pasta play dough.  Super easy to work with and extremely pliable.  Fun to work with- this would be a great way to involve kids in the kitchen!   :-)

After the balls were shaped I just tossed them in a freezer bag and let them sit overnight- they didn't stick together in the bag at all when I pulled them out the next day.

It was at this point that my husband asked me what kind of sauce I was going to serve them with.
I'll be honest...it hadn't crossed my mind.
I'm not in the habit of serving mac and cheese with dipping sauce!

It didn't take long for the answer to come to me...well, an answer and an idea for next time.
The answer was Roasted Red Pepper Dipping sauce- you can find the recipe below.
The idea for next time?  Dude.  PIMENTO CHEESE.  You know I love pimento cheese.
Spoiler- these were AWESOME.
But next time they're getting pimentocheeseized.  Pimentos.  Sharp cheddar.  You know the drill.

Ok.  Back to the matter at hand.
So gouda is delicious, that's not new information.  It's perfect in this dish, it's creaminess works really well with the pasta and the smokiness compliments the cheddar perfectly.  I really, really enjoyed it.

One more thing...I kind of accidentally bought regular panko.  This recipe called for seasoned panko. Thank goodness there's a fix for that.

These are just plain fun.  A light, thin, flavorful crust around a warm, gooey, delicious comfort food filling.  Eat them with your hands, eat them with a fork, whatever- just make sure you eat these.
They're calling your name.

1 pound elbow macaroni
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 cups warmed milk, plus 2 tablespoons for egg wash
1 pound Sargento Chef's Blends Shredded 4 State Cheddar
1 pound grated smoked Gouda
Salt & Pepper, to taste
2 eggs
3 cups seasoned Panko crumbs
Vegetable oil for frying
Your choice of dipping sauces like Marinara, Alfredo or Ketchup

1. Cook the macaroni per package instructions. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking. Drain again and set aside.

2. In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Sprinkle the flour into the butter and stir it with a whisk. Cook for 2 minutes. Whisk the warmed milk into the flour mixture, working out any lumps. Cook until the roux thickens, about 2-3 minutes. Add cheeses, and stir until cheeses begins to melt. Remove from heat and keep stirring until completely melted and smooth; season with salt and pepper. Fold the cheese sauce into the macaroni. Pour the mac and cheese into a shallow pan and refrigerate until cold, at least 2 hours.

3. Shape the cold mac and cheese into meatball-sized balls and place them onto a waxed paper-lined tray. Freeze overnight or until completely frozen.
To bread the mac and cheese balls, beat the eggs and 2 tablespoons milk together in a shallow bowl. In another shallow bowl, add seasoned Panko crumbs. Remove mac and cheese balls from freezer, dip the balls into the egg wash and then into the Panko crumbs. If not frying immediately, put the balls back into the freezer until you're ready to fry.

4. Heat oil in a deep-fat fryer to 350 degrees F. Fry the mac and cheese balls until they're golden brown and the center's hot, about 4-5 minutes. Serve hot with your favorite dipping sauce, Marinara, Alfredo, ketchup or all for dipping.

Roasted Red Pepper Dipping Sauce

1/4 C mayo
3 Tbsp ketchup
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp olive oil
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/8 tsp onion powder
1/8 tsp paprika

1. Combine all ingredients in food processor; process until smooth.

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