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
- Serves a whole mess
- For the macaroni and cheese:
heavy cream or milk
sharp cheddar, shredded (about 3 cups)
- For the dredging:
Vegetable oil, for frying
Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
- 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.