Feelin’ cheesy? Food writer Libby Kimber has come up with these mac and cheese balls with a tasty BBQ ranch sauce to go along with them!
Mac and cheese balls
Images and text from The Smoke Shop’s Backyard BBQ by Andy Husbands and William Salazar, photography by Ken Goodman, Fair Winds Press, RRP $39.99.
Serves: 10-12 (30 pieces)
- 170g uncooked bacon, diced
- 280g elbow macaroni
- 2/3 cup (179g) cheese sauce
- 1 tsp kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling
- 3/4 cup (20g) roughly chopped baby spinach
- 1/2 cup (58g) shredded cheddar cheese
- 3 large eggs, beaten until well blended, divided
- 2 cups (250g) all-purpose flour, divided
- 2 cups (230g) seasoned dry breadcrumbs
- 6 cups (1.4L) vegetable oil, for frying
- BBQ ranch, for serving
Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
Cook the bacon in a skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp. Drain well and set aside.
Cook the macaroni just past al dente according to package directions. Drain well and transfer to a medium mixing bowl. Stir in the cheese sauce, bacon, and salt and cool for 5 minutes. Fold in the spinach and cheddar cheese. Add 2 tablespoons (28ml) of the beaten eggs and 1/2 cup (63g) of the flour; mix until thoroughly blended. Take 1 heaped tablespoon (15ml) of the mixture and squeeze it firmly in your hand to form a tight ball; repeat to form about 30 balls and arrange them on the parchment-lined sheet pan. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and chill for at least 20 minutes or overnight.
To bread the mac and cheese balls, place 3 small mixing bowls on a work surface. Place the remaining 1 and a 1/2 cups (188g) of flour in 1 bowl, the remaining eggs in the next bowl, and the breadcrumbs in the last bowl. One at a time, compact a ball in your hands again and coat it lightly in the flour and then in the egg, allowing the excess to drip off. Finally, roll the ball in the breadcrumbs, pressing gently so they adhere. Return the breaded ball to the sheet pan and repeat with the remaining balls. Cover the pan lightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until you are ready to fry.
Attach a deep-fry thermometer to the side of a large heavy-bottomed pan and add oil to a depth of 2.5cm. Place the pan over medium-high heat. Place a paper towel-lined sheet pan beside the stove.
When the oil reaches 182°C, carefully transfer the mac and cheese balls to the oil, working in batches to avoid crowding the pan. Fry until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side, and transfer to the paper towel-lined pan to drain. Sprinkle lightly with salt.
Let cool for a few minutes before serving with the BBQ Ranch.
- 1 medium carrot, peeled and cut into chunks
- 1 stalk celery, cut into 4 pieces
- 3/4 cup (175g) mayonnaise
- 3/4 cup (175ml) whole buttermilk
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 2 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 2 Tbsp BBQ sauce
Finely mince the carrot in a food processor; you should have about 1/4 cup. Transfer to a small bowl. Repeat with the celery, transfer to a few layers of paper towel, and squeeze dry; you should have 1/4 cup. Add to the carrots.
Combine the mayonnaise, buttermilk, salt, and spices in the processor and pulse to blend. Allow to sit for 5 minutes. Pulse in the BBQ sauce until incorporated and then the vegetables.