Chicken-Fried Macaroni and Cheese

By • August 9, 2011 63 Comments

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Author Notes: My family and I occasionally order fried mac n' cheese from Swanky Frank's in Norwalk, Connecticut, or wherever else we spot the stuff. I've always wondered, "Can I make this at home??" So here's my version, sort of ramped up if you will, chicken-fried style. I adapted the dredging recipe from the Chicken-Fried Steak recipe over at Saveur. My kids prefer a milder cheese, so if that's to your liking, replace some of the sharp cheddar with a milder cheese like American, which has awesome meltability.mrslarkin

Food52 Review: WHO: You know mrslarkin for her scones and contest wins, but wait until you see what she does to macaroni and cheese!
WHAT: Cheesy mac is dredged in buttermilk and flour, then fried—and then gobbled.
HOW: Toss together a simple sharp cheddar sauce with macaroni, freeze it into a pan, cut it into squares, and give them the chicken-fried treatment.
WHY WE LOVE IT: Warning: This recipe may lead you to fry up mac n' cheese each time you make it—don't worry, we won't tell a soul.
The Editors

Serves a whole mess

For the macaroni and cheese:

  • 1 pound elbow macaroni
  • 1 cup heavy cream or milk
  • 12 ounces sharp cheddar, shredded (about 3 cups)

For the dredging:

  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons Tabasco sauce
  • 1 large egg
  1. To make the macaroni and cheese, cook macaroni to al dente. Drain and set aside.
  2. Grease a 9- x 13-inch cake pan and set aside.
  3. In the same pasta pot, heat the cream and cheese over medium-low heat, stirring until creamy and smooth. Remove from heat.
  4. Add cooked macaroni to the cheese sauce. Mix very well.
  5. Spread macaroni and cheese into the greased pan, smoothing with a spatula. Freeze until firm for about 30 minutes, or refrigerate overnight.
  6. Cut macaroni in the pan into about 20 squares. A bench scraper works well. Just eyeball your lines (or use a ruler) and press directly downwards with the bench scraper.
  7. To dredge and fry the macaroni, heat 1/2-inch vegetable oil in a frying pan over medium heat.
  8. In a shallow bowl, mix the flour, paprika, salt, and pepper.
  9. In another shallow bowl, whisk the buttermilk, Tabasco, and egg.
  10. Using a skinny and bendy metal spatula to remove a few macaroni squares from the pan at a time. Keep unused squares chilled. Dredge each square of macaroni in the flour mixture, then egg mixture, then flour mixture, shaking off the excess.
  11. Fry macaroni squares until golden, then flip and fry other side until golden, about 1 to 2 minutes per side. Drain on paper towel-lined cooling rack set over a sheet pan.
  12. Sprinkle with some flaky sea salt if you’ve got it, or kosher salt is just fine, too. Serve hot with a spicy marinara or gravy, or just plain ol' ketchup.

Tags: cheesy fried goodness, macaroni and cheese, mashup, OMG, this ain't no diet food

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Comments (63) Questions (0)

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about 1 month ago Lauren Butler

What I love most about this recipe - besides the fact of its mere existence! - is that it's a way to "fix" macaroni & cheese where the cheese sauce separates into curds & whey. My cheese sauce separated when I made this but frying it kind of put it back together again. A miracle!

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about 1 month ago mrslarkin

Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

I'm so glad it worked for you, Lauren! I've read that if you put your separated cheese sauce in a blender, it will re-emulsify.

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about 1 month ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Congratulations Liz, this is comfort food heaven.

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about 1 month ago mrslarkin

Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

Thank you so much, Suzanne! Such a nice surprise today!

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2 months ago Niknud

I think my heart just exploded....in both the good and bad way. I may die (heavy cream! cheese!), but by God, I'll go out with a smile on my face.

Dc351ca2-4647-4898-96b6-f3da7248b642.mrs._larkin_370

about 1 month ago mrslarkin

Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

Just like my Uncle Pino who kicked the bucket while sitting in his recliner, eating a plate of gnocchi, and watching RAI Uno. Is there a better way to go?

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2 months ago sexyLAMBCHOPx

sexyLAMBCHOPx is a trusted home cook.

I still love Swanky Franks.

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about 1 month ago mrslarkin

Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

Us too! We have Swanky Frank's t-shirts.

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almost 4 years ago Bevi

How on earth did I miss this? This may have to grace the table when my daughter comes up. She will eat the whole thing and then insist on running 5 miles.

Dc351ca2-4647-4898-96b6-f3da7248b642.mrs._larkin_370

almost 4 years ago mrslarkin

Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

ha! thanks bevi!! good lord, i hope she doesn't eat the whole thing!!

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almost 4 years ago Lizthechef

I'm cheering from the sidelines, cholesterol, bp and all...Go for it!

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almost 4 years ago mrslarkin

Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

Thanks so much, Liz! Moderation is the key here, of course!!

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almost 4 years ago dymnyno

Yes...I think that y'all would agree that this recipe is much better than the Iowa State Fairs new item,Fried Butter On a Stick!

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almost 4 years ago fiveandspice

Emily is a trusted source on Scandinavian Cuisine.

Oh, I don't know. Deep fried butter may be the ultimate food achievement! ;)

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almost 4 years ago mrslarkin

Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

fried butter???? omg i need to try that. It's gotta be frozen solid when they stick it in the fryer, no?

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almost 4 years ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

They had a piece on the local morning news show a few days ago on fair food, they showed them making the fried butter and what it looks like when you bite into it, Its hollow and greast and gooey looking. They said the butter is frozen.

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almost 4 years ago SKK

I have been thinking about this amazing recipe since you posted it and want your feedback on a few ideas. Noticed you did not use butter. Do you think butter would make it richer?

Also, what is your thought on adding bacon?

Thank you again Mrs. Larkin for making recipes that appeal to the greater good!

Dc351ca2-4647-4898-96b6-f3da7248b642.mrs._larkin_370

almost 4 years ago mrslarkin

Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

You're welcome, SKK!!

Hmmm...I didn't even consider butter, as the cheese sauce is so smooth by itself. So I'm not really sure if butter would make it richer.

And bacon, well, bacon makes everything better, doesn't it?? ;) I'd definitely try that.

Your question has got me thinking that I should have specified in the instructions to use full fat cheese and whole milk (for those using milk). Low-fat = sub-par grainy mac n cheese, in my experience.

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almost 4 years ago dymnyno

You didn't tell us that you were apprenticing with Paula Dean!

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almost 4 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

LOL. I just about spewed coffee all over the keyboard when I read this.

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almost 4 years ago lapadia

LOL!!!

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almost 4 years ago mrslarkin

Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

Heehee y'all! I think I left out a stick of buttah.

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2 months ago lapadia

Simply heart-stopping, mrsL!

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almost 4 years ago WileyP

This is just about the most disgustingly unhealthy recipe I have ever seen, Mrslarkin. (I'm going to call it Mrs. Larkin's Artery Cloggers - Got any more like it?! LOL!)

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almost 4 years ago mrslarkin

Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

Why thank you, WileyP! I think the key is not to eat the whole thing yourself! Share the wealth! ;)

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almost 4 years ago checker

I kind of had to walk away from this and come back to see if it was real it is that awesome.

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almost 4 years ago mrslarkin

Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

Hee hee. I know what you mean, I still can't believe it.

3fdd943e-2b86-46c7-b573-b038b89b9d6f.henrykiss

almost 4 years ago arielleclementine

Girl, you are the coolest! This sounds diabolically delicious! And thanks for recommending my gravy too :)

Dc351ca2-4647-4898-96b6-f3da7248b642.mrs._larkin_370

almost 4 years ago mrslarkin

Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

Haha! You are welcome, Gravy Queen!

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almost 4 years ago wssmom

LOVE your cheese food yum! This is incredible!

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almost 4 years ago mrslarkin

Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

Hooray team cheese food! :)

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almost 4 years ago gingerroot

YUM! That's all I can really say about this (imagine my letters in bold, about 10 pts larger).

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almost 4 years ago mrslarkin

Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

Yes, in fact I can imagine, because that's how big my butt has grown since eating this monster. Thanks g!

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almost 4 years ago Sagegreen

Oh my! This is how you spell scrumptious.

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almost 4 years ago mrslarkin

Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

Thank you Sagegreen!!

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almost 4 years ago nannydeb

Oh, no you DIDN'T!!! Sounds awesome! I saw Paula Dean deep fry lasagna once and thought that was decadent!

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almost 4 years ago mrslarkin

Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

Oh, yes I did! :) Thanks nannydeb.

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almost 4 years ago SKK

Thanks for taking one for the team and sharing this awesome recipe!

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almost 4 years ago mrslarkin

Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

You're welcome, SKK! All for the greater good.

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almost 4 years ago CheriDawn

Oh, this sounds like Heaven! I am going to HAVE to try this. Thank you for sharing.

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almost 4 years ago mrslarkin

Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

You're welcome, CheriDawn!

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almost 4 years ago marynn

The right day for this is gonna come along and I'll know it. All in good time, my pretty! Now, I'm armed. mrslarkin, I love your forthright style! And the green chili gravy nod.

Dc351ca2-4647-4898-96b6-f3da7248b642.mrs._larkin_370

almost 4 years ago mrslarkin

Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

Thanks marynn! Hope you like it!

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almost 4 years ago dymnyno

I know that since you made it ,it is very tasty, but oh my!...go and sin no more!!

Dc351ca2-4647-4898-96b6-f3da7248b642.mrs._larkin_370

almost 4 years ago mrslarkin

Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

:) I will try to be good from now on, dymnyno!

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almost 4 years ago lorigoldsby

Sometimes we cook to please ourselves, and sometimes to please the kids...the plastic wrapped cheese (or I may even sub velvetta) will make my niece and nephew happy and that in turn will delight me. Thanks MrsL for another "keeper"!

Dc351ca2-4647-4898-96b6-f3da7248b642.mrs._larkin_370

almost 4 years ago mrslarkin

Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

Thanks lorigoldsby! Love me some velveeta too!!

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almost 4 years ago aargersi

Abbie is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Oh Lordy Mrs L - wickedness at its fried cheesy best - sounds amazing! Now that you have put this in our collective minds, I see a lot of fried mac-n-cheese in all Food52-er futures

Dc351ca2-4647-4898-96b6-f3da7248b642.mrs._larkin_370

almost 4 years ago mrslarkin

Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

Thanks, aargersi. I'm glad I could plant the seed of cheesy goodness...

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almost 4 years ago fiveandspice

Emily is a trusted source on Scandinavian Cuisine.

Holy Smokes! This looks Crazy!!! And probably insanely delicious!

Dc351ca2-4647-4898-96b6-f3da7248b642.mrs._larkin_370

almost 4 years ago mrslarkin

Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

Thank you 5&s! Yup, it's real good.

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almost 4 years ago Deb Smith

Yum! Interestingly, one of my big regrets this lifetime is that, while I've been semi-obsessed with Swanky Frank's for years (years!), I never once allowed myself the pleasure of stopping in because I was either by my lonesome or being "good" or en route someplace else. Note to self: this sad situation is in need of correction at the very next opportunity! In the meantime, I will fry me up some mrslarkin's mac & cheese. Happiness.

Dc351ca2-4647-4898-96b6-f3da7248b642.mrs._larkin_370

almost 4 years ago mrslarkin

Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

Thanks so much, Deb. You HAVE to visit Swanky's when you find yourself back in these parts.

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almost 4 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

You're kids must realize your are the AWESOMEST mom ever! This sounds deadly!

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almost 4 years ago mrslarkin

Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

Thanks hla! On the 2nd night of testing this, I asked my kids first if it would be ok if i made it again. They're response was pretty much "absofreakinlutely!"

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almost 4 years ago lapadia

I have never heard of Swanky Frank's or a recipe like this...learn something new everyday...the crispy part on top of mac & cheese is my favorite part...WOW, never would have thought of this in a million years! You could probably even serve it on a stick :)

Dc351ca2-4647-4898-96b6-f3da7248b642.mrs._larkin_370

almost 4 years ago mrslarkin

Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

Thanks, lapadia! Yes, it's pretty sturdy, so a stick would probably work!

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almost 4 years ago MyCommunalTable

Love it. Hilarious, Fried mac & cheese dipped in chili sauce. OMG. I am trying to diet. This has now filtered into my mind and I can not stop thinking about it. Thank goodness my son is allergic to dairy or I would make an excuse to make these puppies for "him".

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almost 4 years ago mrslarkin

Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

Thanks, MCT!

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almost 4 years ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

This is fantastic mrslarkin, wow!!! It doesn't get more decadent than this.

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almost 4 years ago mrslarkin

Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

Thank you sdebrango!

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almost 4 years ago sexyLAMBCHOPx

sexyLAMBCHOPx is a trusted home cook.

I live a town away from Swanky Frank's. This is for sure, a guilty pleasure. I'd dipped these suckers in a dab of ketchup.

Dc351ca2-4647-4898-96b6-f3da7248b642.mrs._larkin_370

almost 4 years ago mrslarkin

Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

Thanks, sexyLAMBCHOPx. We're practically neighbors. Yep, ketchup sounds real good, too.