Just when you thought it doesn’t get any better than good ol’ mac ’n cheese, along comes this oh-so gratifying remix! For a vegetarian version, simply omit the bacon
Recipe and Styling by Nomvuselelo Mncube
Photograph by Dylan Swart
Deep-fried mac, cheese ’n bacon balls
- 500g macaroni pasta
- 60g butter
- 3 tbsp cake flour
- 375ml (1½ cups) milk
- 300g Cheddar cheese, grated
- 100g Gruyère cheese, grated
- 100g mozzarella cheese, grated
- ½ tsp mustard powder
- ½ tsp peri-peri sauce
- salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 handful fresh chives, chopped + extra, to serve
- 200g shoulder bacon, finely chopped and fried
- 100g panko breadcrumbs
- 3 extra-large eggs
- canola oil, to deep-fry
- pretzel sticks, to serve (optional)
Cook the pasta in salted boiling water until slightly overcooked and almost breaking apart – this is important for ease of rolling into balls later. Drain and set aside until needed.
Using the same pot, melt the butter over medium heat and whisk in the flour. Cook for 1 minute, stirring, to avoid burning. Gradually whisk in the milk to make a roux and increase the heat to medium-high. Bring the mixture to a boil, whisking frequently, until the sauce has thickened, 2 – 3 minutes.
Remove from heat and stir in the cheeses, mustard powder and peri-peri sauce. Season, to taste. Mix until the cheeses are fully melted, then stir in the cooked pasta, chopped chives and fried bacon bits. Transfer to a dish to cool at room temperature. Cover with cling film and refrigerate, about 2 hours or overnight.
Using 2 shallow bowls, place the breadcrumbs in one bowl. Beat the eggs in the second bowl. Take the macaroni, cheese and bacon mixture out of the fridge, scoop out about 1 tbsp of the mixture and shape into a ball about the size of a golf ball. Dip into the beaten egg, making sure to coat the ball completely, and then dip in the breadcrumbs, ensuring the ball is coated all around. Set aside in a large shallow dish and repeat this step until you have finished all the balls. Place the dish in the fridge while you heat the oil.
In a deep fat fryer or large, deep pot, heat the oil to 180˚C. Use a sugar thermometer to check the temperature of the oil if using a pot. Remove the balls from the fridge and place only a few at time in the oil to fry, 1 – 2 minutes, rotating them while they cook. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on paper towel to drain excess oil.
Serve the mac, cheese ’n bacon balls warm, garnished with the extra chopped chives and with pretzel sticks inserted in them like lollipops, if desired.