That's where this particular appetizer shines. It's incredibly simple. It starts with something that you make the day before (or three or four days before): mac & cheese. The best part about that is that it can be any type of mac and cheese you like. Are you like me and you prefer to make it from scratch? Good. That works. How about the good old blue box of Kraft? Yup, it works just fine as well. As long as it's a mac and cheese that you like, it will work just fine.
Why the day before? That's easy. You want it to be well chilled so it holds its shape. You can certainly make it in the morning and then refrigerate it before making the appetizer later in the day.
These are SO much better than any I've ever had in a restaurant. You have to give them a try!
- Refrigerated, leftover mac & cheese (How much you use is completely up to you. The amount of egg and panko mixture in the recipe is enough to make approximately two dozen mac & cheese balls. You can opt to make your balls a bit smaller or a bit larger. Again, this is up to personal preference.)
- 1 cup panko bread crumbs
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 tsp rosemary leaves (optional)
- 1 tsp thyme leaves (optional)
- 1 tsp garlic powder (optional)
- 1/2 tsp onion powder (optional)
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 2 tbsp milk
- oil for frying
- Heat the oil to 325 degrees. For most frying, I heat it to 350-375. I found that with this, you want it a bit lower. If you use the higher temperature the outside will brown and even burn before the inside heats up.
- While the oil is heating up, put the dry ingredients (panko, parmesan cheese, salt, and any herbs/spices you choose to use) in a food processor and pulse a few times until fine. Feel free to add any herbs/spices you might like to this mixture. If you like an Italian herb flavor, throw in a bit of oregano, basil and thyme. You can personalize this to your tastes. Set aside.
- Mix the egg and milk together and set aside.
- Form the cold mac and cheese into balls. You want the balls to be about 1 1/2 tbsp in size. I use a medium cookie scoop for this (available here), which helps ensure consistency. Set aside.
- Roll the mac & cheese balls in the egg/milk mixture.
- Next roll the balls in the panko mixture and set aside.
- Carefully place the balls a few at a time into the oil. You don't want to crowd them. They should take approximately three minutes to cook at 325. They will be a golden brown color.
- Remove from oil. IMPORTANT: Let cool before biting into them. They WILL be very hot!
- Eat as is or use your favorite dip (we love it with our Smoky Southern Gold sauce).