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
Test Kitchen Notes
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
To make the macaroni and cheese, cook macaroni to al dente. Drain and set aside.
Grease a 9- x 13-inch cake pan and set aside.
In the same pasta pot, heat the cream and cheese over medium-low heat, stirring until creamy and smooth. Remove from heat.
Add cooked macaroni to the cheese sauce. Mix very well.
Spread macaroni and cheese into the greased pan, smoothing with a spatula. Freeze until firm for about 30 minutes, or refrigerate overnight.
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.
To dredge and fry the macaroni, heat 1/2-inch vegetable oil in a frying pan over medium heat.
In a shallow bowl, mix the flour, paprika, salt, and pepper.
In another shallow bowl, whisk the buttermilk, Tabasco, and egg.
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.
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.
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.