Mad Mac and Cheese Balls
You guys!! These are sooooo good.
A while back, I attended this grocery showcase. It was this huge trade show that was only open to members of the grocery trade, and it was a preview of the newest products on the market that were going to eventually end up on your local supermarket’s shelves. One of my fave things I tried that day were Urban Mac and Cheese Balls by a local company called Moccia & Urbani. You know what an arancini is, right? It’s leftover risotto, formed into a ball, usually with an additional nugget of cheese hiding inside, and then breaded and fried. It could, quite possibly, be nature’s most perfect food–it’s warm and soft and ooey gooey inside, but crispy on the outside. Well, Mac and Cheese Balls are basically the same concept, only done with leftover mac and cheese, instead of risotto.
Normally, they are deep fried, but I don’t do deep fried at home, so I decided to bake mine instead, and they turned out really well.
Now, when it comes to mac and cheese, hands up who likes to have ketchup with theirs? Yup, that’s what I thought. That’s why I serve these swimming in a pool of homemade tomato sauce.
This would make a fantastic Christmas party appetizer if you are having some people over, or you could even bring them to a pot luck.
Feel free to use any leftover mac and cheese you have for these. You could even use *shudder* the blue boxed kind, but you won’t catch me doing that. The key to making the balls is to really cool the mac and cheese down. It has to be nice and cold for it to pack into balls that stick.
Mad Mac and Cheese Balls
For the Mac and Cheese:
- 1 pkg (375 grams) dried, uncooked macaroni (I like to use the kind that hides extra fibre)
- 3 tbsp butter
- 3 tbsp flour
- 2 cups milk
- 1/2 cup half-and-half cream or evaporated milk
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1 garlic clove
- 2 cups shredded Canadian Cheese–to increase the decadence, use a nice mix of soft (like brie), medium (gouda, gruyere, mozzarella–which have excellent “stretch” factor), aged cheddar (because classic), and dry, hard cheese.
- 3 strips bacon, cut into bits and fried (optional)
- Bring a large, salted pot of water to the boil, and add the box of macaroni. Stir well, then allow to cook until al dente (the pasta will continue to cook in the sauce, so it’s okay if it’s a little undercooked), about 8 minutes. Drain and set aside in a large bowl.
- Meanwhile, in a medium-sized pot, over medium heat, melt the butter. Peel the garlic clove and smash it, then add it to the butter. The garlic is just for flavour, you’ll pull it out later. Next, add the flour, and stir well, until it creates a smooth paste, or roux. Finally, add the milk and cream, and stir well. Turn down the heat, and stir it until it comes up to the boil and thickens. Add the nutmeg, salt and pepper. Now add the cheese and bacon (if using), and stir well until it is all melted. Taste for seasoning.
- Add the cheese sauce to the macaroni, and stir well until all the macaroni are covered in sauce. Place in the fridge to cool down completely, this will take a few hours.
To make the balls:
- leftover mac and cheese
- brie or bocconcini
- panko bread crumbs
- Form the cold mac and cheese into balls, about 1-1 1/2 inches in diameter. If you like, stuff each ball with a small piece of cheese in the centre–you may need to make your balls bigger if you are stuffing them with cheese.
- Place the formed balls on a cookie sheet, and put the cookie sheet in the freezer for a few minutes while you get the rest ready.
- Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Get two shallow bowls. In one, crack two eggs, and scramble them up. Add a little milk if you feel like it’s too thick. In the second, place the panko, and season it up with a little salt, pepper, and paprika.
- Remove the balls from the freezer, and dip them first in the egg wash, then in the panko, ensuring they are totally coated by both. Place on a cookie sheet.
- Bake for about 20 minutes, until golden on the outside, and warmed all the way through.
- Serve with your favourite tomato sauce for dipping.