Fried Mac ‘n Cheese Bacon Bites

Danny de la Cruz @ VRAI Magazineby Danny de la Cruz

With Game Day coming up, here’s a little something that will have your guests talking beyond the Half Time event or the final score once the evening is done. These Fried Mac ‘n Cheese Bacon Bites are definitely worth the effort and a great way to elevate a mac ‘n cheese dish.

I came up with this recipe several years ago when I was on a mac ‘n cheese kick to create a slew of varieties. And to be honest, this is one of my favorites even though it’s a bit more time intensive — you definitely have to prepare in advance. Don’t let this scare you because it just takes some prep and planning but it’s still super easy and so worth the reaction you’ll get from family and friends once they take their first bite!

It’s filled with a blend of three delicious cheeses and of course, with that added touch of bacon, you can’t go wrong. Let me know what you think and enjoy the big game!

Fried Mac ‘n Cheese Bacon Bites

INGREDIENTS

Mac ‘n Cheese Bacon Bites
* 1 pound whole wheat Conchigliette Pasta (Baby Shells)
* 2 cups shredded Gruyère Cheese
* 2 cups shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
* 2 cups shredded Pecorino Romano Cheese
* 1 cup Whole Milk
* 2 cups Cream
* 14-16 slices of Bacon – crumbled
* 4 eggs – beaten
* Seasoned Bread Crumbs or Panko Bread Crumbs – enough to coat each bite
* Cooking Oil
* Ice Cream Scoop (1/4 cup size), parchment paper and 2 large baking trays

Sauce
* 1 14.5 ounce can Diced Tomatoes
* 1/2 cup Cream
* 1/3 – 1/2 cup of shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
* Olive Oil
* Clove of garlic — crushed
* Fresh Black Pepper

INSTRUCTIONS
1. Prepare Pasta aldente according to package directions – drain and rinse with cold water. Set aside.
2. Cook bacon in a pan, set on paper towel after cooking to drain excess oil and once dry, crumble and set aside.
3. In a large sauce pan over medium heat, add milk and cream and allow to come to a low simmer.
4. Add in 2 cups of each cheese and stir until well blended.
5. Season with fresh black pepper and remove from heat.
6. Fold in pasta and bacon crumbles and mix well.
7. Refrigerate for at least one hour to allow mixture to thicken.
8. Create 28 – 30 balls or bites using ice cream scoop. Place each one on a baking tray lined with parchment paper.


9. Freeze overnight — this step is important!
10. Once completely frozen, dip each one in the egg mixture then coat with breadcrumbs.
11. Return to baking tray and freeze until ready to fry, or proceed to cook.
12. In a large pot, fill with enough cooking oil to cover a layer of bites. Heat oil over low heat and allow oil to get very hot.
13. Once oil is ready, test by dropping in one bite. I’ve found that 4 1/2 – 5 minutes is just the right amount of time to crisp the outside while heating up the inside. If you notice the outside getting too dark, it means your heat is too high. 5 minutes should give you a light, golden brown and crispy “shell”.
14. Remove from oil and place on paper towel to absorb excess oil and cook remaining mac ‘n cheese bites.
15. Prepare sauce by drizzling olive oil into a small sauce pan and heating. Sauté garlic.
16. Add in diced tomatoes, 1/2 cup cream and black pepper — allow mixture to come to a simmer.
17. Add in 1/3 – 1/2 cup cheese shreds and mix well until melted. Allow sauce to simmer longer until it slightly thickens.
18. Serve with the mac ‘n cheese bacon bites. Enjoy!

Notes
This recipe was designed for a party so feel free to cut recipe in half for a smaller gathering or dinner. You can also increase the number of “bites” by using a smaller ice cream scoop, but cut frying time in half due to the smaller size.

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