Although I didn’t grow up eating macaroni and cheese, it’s a comfort food I discovered and fell for in college. I’ve since graduated from the blue boxes of neon orange elbows, but it’s something I still crave from time to time, and although I eat my fair share every time I make it, there are inevitably leftovers.
Unfortunately, mac and cheese is one of those dishes that’s best when freshly made, and reheating it doesn’t do it any favors. That’s why I like upcycling leftovers into other dishes.
These easy pan-fried fritters are like two-bite grilled cheese sandwiches, with a crisp buttery crust and gooey mac and cheese in the center. I’m going to assume most of you know how to make macaroni and cheese, but in case you don’t, I have an easy stove-top macaroni and cheese recipe you can prepare for dinner the night before and save some leftovers to make these.
One thing I recommend you do is to put your leftovers into a square or rectangular storage container and press it down enough so that there are no gaps between the individual elbows of macaroni. This ensures it sticks together into a cake. Once it’s refrigerated overnight, you should be able to unmold it and slice it.
Then, it’s just a matter of coating each slice of macaroni and cheese with egg and breadcrumbs before pan-frying them in butter. I like using panko for the breading, as the bigger crumbs make for a thicker layer of crisp buttery bread, but it will also work with regular breadcrumbs.
I don’t think I need to tell you how delicious these are, but they’re even better with condiments. Whether you top them with ketchup, whole grain mustard, sriracha, or a simple squeeze of lemon, having a few condiments on hand takes each bite to new heights.
- butter or vegetable oil (for frying)
- cooked macaroni and cheese
- 1 egg (well beaten)
- 1 cup panko
- Line a cooling rack with several layers of paper towels.
- Prepare two shallow bowls, one with a beaten egg, and one with panko.
- Unmold your leftover macaroni and slice it into 1/2-inch thick slices.
- Salt and pepper the slices of macaroni and cheese if you like.
- Dip each slice in egg and then in the panko, being careful not to break the pieces up.
- Add the butter (or oil) in a frying pan and heat over medium heat.
- Swirl the butter around the pan and when it stops sizzling, add the slices of breaded mac and cheese.
- Fry until golden brown on one side and then flip and fry until golden brown on the other.
- Transfer to the paper towel-lined rack. Serve immediately with condiments of your choice.
This recipe originally appeared on PBS Food