Fried Mac & Cheese Balls
makes 8 balls
2 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoon flour
3/4 cup half and half
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 packed cup leftover mac & cheese
1/2 cup flour
1 beaten egg
1 cup panko (you can also use regular bread crumbs)
pecorino or parmesan cheese for serving (Optional)
Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Add the flour and stir vigorously until the mixture is bubbling. Remove the pan from the heat, then slowly whisk in the half and half until it is fully incorporated and there are no lumps. Return the pan to a medium-low heat stove and use a silicone spatula to continuously scrape the bottom of the pan to keep the sauce from burning. When the sauce is thick and bubbly, remove the pan from the heat and add the mac & cheese. Stir to combine, then taste for salt and adjust as needed. Cool to room temperature, then place the mixture into the fridge to harden.
Once the macaroni mixture has cooled, it will be very firm. Use a spoon to scoop out a 1 1/2″ ball, then roll it between your hands to make it round, pressing down a bit to remove any air pockets. You should be able to make about 8 balls.
Add about 2 inches of oil into a heavy bottomed pot. Turn the heat onto medium high, and watch for the temperature to reach about 320 degrees F. In the mean time, get 3 shallow bowls out, and put the flour in one, the egg in another and the panko in the third. Roll each ball in the flour to coat evenly, then in the egg (make sure it’s well coated with egg or the panko won’t stick). Lastly, drop the balls in the panko and roll around to coat evenly.
Line a wire rack with paper towels to place the balls on once they’re fried. Fry each ball, rolling them around so they brown evenly until they are golden brown and crisp. Transfer the fried mac and cheese bals to a paper towel lined rack and let them drain. Let them cool for a minute before serving, then top with plenty of grated cheese.