As you may already know, this week marks my 1 year blogging anniversary. I’m commemorating this milestone with a $50 eGift Card to Crate & Barrel to one lucky winner through my Anniversary Giveaway. The giveaway ends at the end of this month — click here for all the details.
During this past year, one of my most popular series of postings was my exploration and evolution of the classic mac ‘n cheese — from classic, indulgent, gourmet and healthy varieties.
- Broccoli Cheddar Mac ‘n Cheese
- Three Cheese, Lobster & Bacon Conchigliette
- Mozzarella & Pecorino Romano “Stacked” Beef and Shells
- Healthy Mac ‘n Cheese with Creamy Cauliflower-Prosciutto Sauce
And so once again, I decided to tackle this classic comfort dish and share yet another way to serve it up with a creative, yet delicious twist.
Fried Mac ‘n Cheese Bacon Bites with Chunky Tomato Cream Sauce
I simply love this evolution of mac ‘n cheese. While it takes a little more time and prep since it requires shaping each one and freezing it overnight, it’s totally worth it in the end. I don’t know about you, but waiting for these things to freeze is agony when you’re eager to enjoy them once you have a batch mixed up.
These are bite-sized and perfect as an appetizer for your next gathering. Enjoy them alone or topped with the chunky tomato cream sauce to add even more flavor dimension.
The outside is a crisp outer coating that holds it all together until you slice through with your fork. The inside is just the right amount of creamy, cheesy goodness with savory bits and pieces of crumbled bacon.
I hope you enjoy this latest mac ‘n cheese creation and that I’ve given you enough variations to satisfy your mac ‘n cheese cravings. Which is your favorite?
- 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
- 2 eggs – beaten
- Seasoned Bread Crumbs – enough to coat each bite
- Cooking Oil
- Ice Cream Scoop (1/4 cup size), parchment paper and 2 large baking trays
- 1 14.5 ounce can Diced Tomatoes
- 1/2 cup Cream – for sauce
- 1/3 – 1/2 cup of shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
- Olive Oil
- Fresh Black Pepper
- Prepare Pasta aldente according to package directions – drain and rinse with cold water. Set aside.
- Cook bacon in a pan, set on paper towel after cooking to drain excess oil and once dry, crumble and set aside.
- In a large sauce pan over medium heat, add milk and cream and allow to come to a low simmer.
- Add in 2 cups of each cheese and stir until well blended.
- Season with fresh black pepper and remove from heat.
- Fold in pasta and bacon crumbles and mix well.
- Refrigerate for at least one hour to allow mixture to thicken.
- Create 28 – 30 balls or bites using ice cream scoop. Place each one on a baking tray lined with parchment paper.
- Freeze overnight — this step is important!
- Once completely frozen, dip each one in the egg mixture then coat with breadcrumbs.
- Return to baking tray and freeze until ready to fry, or proceed to cook.
- 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.
- 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”.
- Remove from oil and place on paper towel to absorb excess oil and cook remaining mac ‘n cheese bites.
- Prepare sauce by drizzling olive oil into a small sauce pan and heating.
- Add in diced tomatoes, 1/2 cup cream and black pepper — allow mixture to come to a simmer.
- Add in 1/3 – 1/2 cup cheese shreds and mix well until melted. Allow sauce to simmer longer until it slightly thickens.
- Serve with the mac ‘n cheese bites. Enjoy!