Deep Fried Mac & Cheese

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Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound uncooked elbow macaroni
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon dry mustard
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 1 pound andouille sausage (casing removed), diced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 12 ounces sharp white Cheddar cheese, shredded (about 3 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons TABASCO® brand Original Red Sauce

Topping

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup Panko Japanese-style bread crumbs*
  • 4 ounces sharp white Cheddar cheese, shredded (about 1 cup)

Breading

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 5 eggs, beaten
  • 1 pound Panko Japanese-style bread crumbs*
  • Oil for deep-frying

Preparation

Cook pasta according to package instructions until al dente; don't overcook. Drain in a colander and rinse under running water until cooled slightly. Set aside.

Melt butter in 6-quart pot over medium-high heat. Add flour and mustard and whisk constantly for 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Stir in milk, cream, onion, andouille, bay leaf, and paprika, and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes longer.

Gradually stir about 1 cup milk mixture into beaten egg, then add egg mixture back to milk mixture in pot. Add cheese, salt, pepper, and TABASCO® Sauce, and stir until cheese is melted. Remove from heat and stir in macaroni. Pour into a greased 2-quart rectangular baking dish.

To make topping, melt butter in a small saucepan over low heat; stir in bread crumbs and remove from heat. Sprinkle cheese evenly over macaroni, then sprinkle with bread crumb mixture. Bake in a 350° oven for 30 minutes. Let cool completely, then cover and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, cut casserole lengthwise down the middle, then across into 1-inch bars. For breading, set up three bowls: in one, combine flour and cayenne; beat eggs in the second bowl, and place bread crumbs in the third. Dredge macaroni bars in flour, then egg, then bread crumbs, and place on a baking sheet. Work quickly; don't over handle. Let bars rest in refrigerator 20 minutes to set crumbs.

Heat several inches of oil in a deep-fryer to 350°F. Fry bars, a few at a time, 3 to 4 minutes or until golden brown. Season hot bars with additional salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Makes about 20 bars.

*Panko, or Japanese-style bread crumbs, are coarser than ordinary bread crumbs and make a lighter, crunchier coating. Look for them in the Asian section of larger supermarkets, or substitute cracker crumbs or regular bread crumbs. This recipe was a finalist in the third national TABASCO® Cook & Ladder® Competition. Submitted by Firefighter Bill Maddalena, Berlin Fire Department, New Hampshire.

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