Fried Mac and Cheese Balls

A comfort food classic turned into a delectable, cheesy bite with a hint of beer that is sure to be a game-day hit.

1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup flour
1-1/2 quarts whole milk, scalded
1 bottle (12 ounces) amber ale
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon garlic power
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
12 ounces shredded colby jack cheese
12 ounces shredded sharp cheddar cheese
14 ounces canned chopped green chilies
2 pounds Barilla Elbows or Ditalini, cooked, cooled
12 ounces process American swiss cheese, cubed into 24 pieces
4 cups seasoned flour
4 eggs, beaten
6 cups panko bread crumbs
ranch dressing or Barilla Marinara
  1. Heat butter in medium stockpot on medium heat until melted. Whisk in flour; cook 3 min. whisking constantly, until light golden brown. Reduce heat to low.
  2. Slowly whisk in milk and ale, 1 cup at a time; whisk continuously until mixture is smooth and thickened. Add salt and spices; stir to combine.
  3. Stir in shredded cheeses; slowly mix until melted and smooth. Remove pot from heat.
  4. Add green chilies, pasta to pot; mix well and let mixture cool completely in covered hotel pans in cooler.
  5. Once mixture is chilled, use a #30 scoop to form 24 balls. Push one cube of cheese into center of each ball; seal completely. Arrange on parchment lined sheet pan and freeze 20 min.
  6. Place flour, eggs and panko crumbs in 3 separate bowls. Dredge balls in flour, dip into eggs, then coat completely with panko.
  7. Fry balls in batches at 375 degrees F 5-7 min. or until crisp and golden brown. Serve with ranch dressing or warmed Barilla Marinara sauce for dipping.