Mac and Cheese Bars with Tomato Fonduta
From Chef Sean Olnowich
Mac and Cheese is sexy because eating it is a provocative and sensory experience, hitting all of the senses — sight, smell, sound (in the crunchy top), and most important — the taste on your tongue, says Olnowich. "It appeals to the inner child in all of us as it makes us reminisce to the carefree early years in life via our childhood favorite foods," he says. These bars turn our favorite sexy comfort food into something even better — dippable finger food!
- 1 lb elbow macaroni
- egg wash — 2 eggs, mixed with ½ cups water
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 2 cups seasoned bread crumbs
- 2 quarts soybean or peanut oil for frying
- 2 shallots, peeled and chopped
- 1 clove garlic, pasted on microplane grater
- ½ quart heavy cream
- ½ lb white Grafton cheddar cheese, grated
- ½ lb fontina cheese, grated
- ½ lb Gruyere cheese, grated
- ½ lb Velveeta
- ½ cup thyme, chopped
- kosher salt, to taste
- fresh ground pepper, to taste
- 2 tbsp. canola oil
- 1 cup roasted or sundried tomatoes
- 1 cup reserved cheese sauce
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp all purpose flour
- 1 cup whole milk
For the béchamel, add butter to a sauté pan on low heat. When the butter is melted, add the flour and stir with a wooden spoon to form the roux. Cook for 5 minutes to cook out the flour and whisk in milk. Keep whisking until all of the roux is incorporated into the milk and forms a smooth sauce. Reserve.
In a large saucepan, on low to medium heat, add canola oil and shallots and sweat until soft and add the garlic. Stir and cook for 30 seconds and add heavy cream and thyme and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and stir in the cheddar, Gruyere, and fontina cheeses and cook until cheese is melted through and incorporated. Add the béchamel, and cook for 10 more minutes to thicken the sauce. Add the sauce to a blender on medium speed to make sure all of the cheese is incorporated and has a smooth and creamy consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour all but 1 cup of sauce out of blender and reserve. With the remaining sauce, add the roasted tomatoes and blend and reserve.
Boil a pot of water with enough salt that it tastes like the ocean. Add the pasta and cook for 10 minutes till al dente. Strain the pasta and add to the sauce. Stir over medium heat for 2 minutes and pour into a greased hotel pan or sheet pan or pan lined with parchment paper. Top with a layer of parchment paper and another pan and press to even out the mac & cheese mixture and refrigerate till cold.
Preheat the oil in a 4-qtr saucepan to 350 degrees; when cold, remove mac & cheese from the pan and cut into 3" x 1" rectangles. In order, set up 1 bowl flour, then egg wash, and bread crumbs. With the mac and cheese rectangles, coat each in flour, then egg wash, and breadcrumbs. Deep fry the breaded mac & cheese bars for 5 minutes to a golden brown; serve with warm tomato fonduta.