Sunday, July 29, 2012

Deep-Fried Vegan Mac and Cheese





































These are the best things I've ever made or eaten. After spotting fried mac and cheese bites in the frozen section of Trader Joe's last week, I've had this internal battle about veganizing it myself at home. I've made vegan mac and cheese before and I certainly know how to deep fry, but does that mean I should combine those two things together in one dish? Probably not, but I did anyway.

After eating a few of these, I slipped into a wonderful fried food coma. This mac and cheese has the perfect amount of richness with just a hint of acidity from the coconut vinegar, which gives it an overall authentic cheesy (with no trace of coconut) flavor. The texture is gooey and silky, and it's all perfectly encased in a crispy panko shell. With a tiny tap, they kind of break open and ooze immediately. The large batch you make can also be frozen after they are fried, and then simply refried again (let them defrost for 10-15 minutes first) in smaller batches, with perfect results.

If you don't want to fry, you can also bake this. Just let the mac and cheese cool completely in the refrigerator, then transfer to a greased cast iron skillet and bake at 350 until warmed through. Top with a generous amount of panko breadcrumbs during the last 10 minutes of baking or until a nice golden color is achieved.

INGREDIENTS
One can of full-fat coconut milk
1 tsp coconut vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp agar powder
a few dashes of white pepper
1 TB tapioca flour dissolved in 1 TB water
2 TB nooch
1 cup elbow macaroni
1 1/2 tsp Ener-G, whisked with 5 TB water
3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 tsp salt
plenty of canola oil for frying

METHOD
Prepare the pasta according to the package instructions.

While the pasta is boiling, place the coconut milk into a separate small saucepan and whisk over medium heat. Add in the coconut vinegar, salt, agar powder and white pepper. Whisk briskly until it comes to a small boil. Remove from the heat and add in the tapioca flour/water mixture and the nooch. Whisk until well combined.

When your macaroni is ready, use a skimmer to transfer the pasta to the cheese mixture. Stir well and place the entire pot into the freezer for about 45 minutes. Stir it occasionally and, if it gets too thick or cold, remove it from the freezer.

Spray a large pyrex glass dish with a little cooking spray. Shape the cold macaroni and cheese into golfball-sized bites and place them into the glassware. Then return it to the freezer for about an hour and a half.

When you are ready to fry, place plenty of canola oil into a small saucepan over medium high heat. After about seven minutes, insert a wooden spoon into the bottom of the pan. If bubbles form around the spoon immediately, you are ready to fry.

Remove the macaroni from the freezer. Set up a shallow bowl with the Ener-G/water mixture. In another shallow bowl, mix together the panko, cornstarch and salt.

Dip the macaroni bites first into the Ener-G, then coat in the panko mixture. Slowly slide it into the hot oil and fry until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Only fry 2-3 bites at a time. Overcrowding the oil with cold items will reduce the oil's temperature and you'll be left with soggy and oily macaroni.

Remove from the oil and place on paper towels to drain. Sprinkle immediately with a little salt. Serve immediately.




28 comments:

  1. Oh my gosh Erin! You HAVE to make that for us next time we get together!!! PS Stop by to check out the corgi video's I've posted. He's doing great. :)

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    1. Let's make it happen soon! Cad looks so much better, almost back to 100%! Great job with the recovery efforts! : )

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  2. I think I just died and went to heaven just looking at the picture. Your blog is amazing!

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  3. Oh MY!

    That looks amazing!

    Can I tell you a secret? It's totally silly but I'm intimidated by frying. There I said it! It's out in the open. Otherwise I would totally try this! If you ever come to the Pacific Northwest I will exchange room&board for these.

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    1. Mary - oh no, frying is so wonderful, you must give it a try at least once! Wait, no, don't try it --- I'd love to fry my way to the Pacific Northwest, what an adventure that would be! ; P

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  4. Um.. Are you kidding me?! These look so good! You are definitely more confident than I, I would probably set my kitchen ablaze trying to make these awesome treats. Great job!

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    1. Thanks Jackie! If there was any chance of a fire with this technique, our house would be burned down years ago, for sure. Give frying a chance, its so worth it!

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  5. i finally came upon nutritional yeast at whole foods the other day and i was excited. i have my heart set on making vegan mac & cheese soon, probably not deep fried, tho yours looks so unbelievably good.

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    1. Thanks Lan! This mac and cheese is good on its own as well. I found that it tasted better cooled off completely, then reheated. Maybe throw some breadcrumbs on the top in a cast iron to bake/reheat for something similar? Hmmmm ... I'm actually going to update the post with this! : )

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  6. I've been crisping panko and putting it on my mac n cheese for years, it really adds a nommy flavor!

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  7. this looks awesome! but can you tell me what Ener-g and nooch are? Thanks!!

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    1. Thanks! Ener-G is an egg replacer made from potato starch and nooch is nutritional yeast, an inactive yeast that has a rich cheesy flavor (and chock full of B12).

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  8. This is insane erin .. insanely good!!

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  9. These look great- a wonderful way to enjoy one of the best things ever!

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  10. Hi! What does the coconut vinegar do? It is quite expensive over here (UK) and just wondering if there's an alternative, like white wine vinegar or something? Thanks for sharing, this looks great!

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  11. Thanks Freya! The coconut vinegar gives coconut milk a cheesy taste when combined. However, these recipes only call for 1 tsp or so, so the bottle should last you a really long time. I've heard mixed reviews about using apple cider vinegar, and a positive review with using white balsamic vinegar (two vinegars I have never used myself for this cheese.)

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  12. Well, I love Mac and Cheese and my husband has just become Vegan as well so I think I will invest in a bottle! Thanks for the reply!

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  13. Ok, so we made the mac and cheese, we didn't deep fry it (this time). It was amazing! I was a bit worried that the coconut milk would be overwhelmingly, well coconutty, but it just worked out wonderfully. I did take your advice and bought the coconut vinegar. I baked ours in the oven with some panko on top, served it with some green beans. Another new recipe for our vegan repertoire! Thank you!!

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    1. Freya -- thanks for the feedback and I'm so happy it was a success! Hopefully that bottle of coconut vinegar will allow you to make batch after yummy batch of vegan cheese!

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  14. Paula Deen makes this so I'm super stoked that someone found out how to veganize it, WTG. You don't know how happy you've made me

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    1. I would love to try and veganize all of her stuff! I hope you enjoy these! : )

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  15. Erin, this recipe is INSANE. And I just found it. And I love it.

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    1. I hope you do! It's super fun and sinful.

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