You know, I make an effort to eat pretty healthy most of the time with a few exceptions. But…there are times when you just need to get your fry on! And…if you`re going to do it, do it right & GO ALL IN. It`s not that I don`t like a nice lite tempura veggie kind of thing but honestly I`d just as soon eat my vegetables raw, steamed, roasted or sautéed. Nope, I`m talking about going DEEP, as in cheesey, bacony mouthfuls of deep fried pure goodness DEEP. This simple man`s plan to better eating is bringing you an absolutely delicious, gluttonous, throw your diet out the window, perfect party appetizer in the form of Deep Fried Jalapeño Bacon Mac-N-Cheese Bites. Now when I say perfect party appetizer I sooo mean it. These can be prepped & frozen ahead of time & only take 3-4 minutes per batch to finish. One word of advice however, think about how many you`ll need & then double the batch. They`re going to literally fly of the plate!
In this recipe instead of your typical macaroni I used Israeli Couscous for the pasta element. Have you used it before? They`re these super cool little toasted pasta balls that have an awesome ¨mouthfeel¨.
Here`s a little more about Israeli Couscous from www.aboutfood.com. Israeli couscous, also called pearl couscous, is similar to regular couscous in that it’s a small, whole grain-like food made from semolina or wheat flour.
While I’ve always seen it labeled as Israeli couscous, others might know it as “pearl couscous”, “Jerusalem couscous”, or, as it is known in Israel, “ptitim”. Bob’s Red Mill, one commonly known brand, labels their product “Natural pearl couscous”.
Because of its size, Israeli couscous has a slightly chewy texture, similar to barley, and, because it’s toasted, it has a slightly nutty flavor. Like regular couscous and other whole grains, however, Israeli couscous is rather bland on it’s own, and needs to be prepared with seasonings, spices, sauces or fresh herbs.
Because Israeli couscous is made from wheat flour, it is not a gluten-free food, though it is vegetarian and vegan. Israeli couscous also has a low glycemic index, making it a healthy and high-fiber food.
So let`s get going, here`s what you`ll need for your Deep Fried Jalapeño Bacon Mac-N-Cheese Bites:
Israeli Couscous- 1 1/2 cups uncooked
Water, Chicken or Vegetable Stock- 2 cups
Milk- 2 cups
Butter- 2 Tablespoons
All Purpose Flour- 2 Tablespoons
Cheese- 8oz grated (I used Colby Jack & Edam but any good melting cheese you like will be perfect)
Bacon- 8oz cooked until crispy & crumbled
Pickled Jalapeños- 2-4oz drained & chopped
Seasoned Bread Crumbs- 1-2 cups
Oil- for frying
Marinara Sauce or Salsa- for dipping The key players today.Let`s get our prep done. Chop & cook the bacon until crispy. Remove to paper towels to drain.Grate your cheese. I used Colby Jack & Edam but feel free to use whatever melting cheese you like.Drain & chop your Jalapeños. You could totally use finely chopped serrano or chipotle peppers en adobo here!Cook the Israeli couscous per the package directions. To 1 1/2 cups couscous I used 2 cups of chicken stock. Water or vegetable stock will work perfectly, I just like the added flavor. Time to make our cheese sauce.To a sauce pan over medium heat add 2 Tablespoons of butter.Once melted add 2 Tablespoons of flour.We need to get that raw flour taste cooked out. Stir well & cook 3-4 minutes until it starts to turn a light golden brown.Add in the milk a little at a time stirring until smooth before the next addition. We don`t want any nasty lumps here. Simmer for 4-5 minutes until thickened stirring occasionally.Add in the cheese stirring continuously until fully melted & incorporated.Into the pool go the bacon & jalapeños. Stir to combine.Add in the cooked Israeli Couscous.All mixed & ready to chill.Line a sheet pan or baking dish with parchment paper & grease lightly or give a quick shot of cooking spray.Pour the mixture in an even layer & refrigerate until completely set & chilled. At least 2 hours but 8 or overnight`s better.Once chilled remove from the baking dish to a cutting board. With a sharp knife cut into squares, rectangles, triangles or whatever shape excites you.
Time to bread these babies. It`s a super easy 2 step process. In one bowl add the eggs & mix well. To another bowl add the seasoned bread crumbs. A couple of pieces at a time 1st add to the egg mixture & cover, coat or submerge completely. Transfer to the bread crumbs & thoroughly coat. Remove to a plate or dish & repeat with the remaining pieces.Breaded & ready. If you`re not making them immediately put in the fridge or freezer for later.When you`re ready heat 3-4 inches of oil in a deep pan or pot to a temperature of 350 degrees. Working in batches cook your Deep Fried Jalapeño Bacon Mac-N-Cheese Bites. Cook until golden brown, about 3-4 minutes. Remove to paper towels to drain.
Serve with your favorite red sauce or salsa. (My Marinara Sauce goes perfectly here.)
Enjoy your Deep Fried Jalapeño Bacon Mac-N-Cheese Bites! You & your guests are going to be so happy to have these bites of yum in your life!!