Southern cooks have a secret-- pimiento cheese is just as delicious as an appetizer as it is on a sandwich or cracker. By giving the pimiento cheese bites a quick fry, they gain a crisp crust that pairs perfectly with the slightly melted cheese on the inside of the popper.
1 (8-oz.) package elbow macaroni
3 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1 (8-oz.) block sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
1 (4-oz.) jar diced pimiento, drained
3/4 cup fine, dry breadcrumbs
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup milk
How to Make It
Prepare pasta according to package directions.
Meanwhile, melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Gradually whisk in flour until smooth; cook, whisking constantly, 1 minute. Gradually whisk in 2 cups milk and next 3 ingredients; cook, whisking constantly, 3 to 5 minutes or until thickened. Stir in Cheddar cheese and pimiento until melted and smooth. Remove from heat, and stir in pasta.
Line a 13- x 9-inch pan with plastic wrap, allowing several inches to extend over edges of pan. Pour mixture into prepared pan. Cool slightly; cover and chill 8 hours. Remove macaroni mixture from pan, and cut into 1-inch squares.
Stir together breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese in a shallow dish or pie plate. Whisk together eggs and 1/2 cup milk in another shallow dish or pie plate; dip macaroni bites in egg mixture, and dredge in breadcrumb mixture.
Pour oil to depth of 1 inch in a large skillet; heat to 350°. Fry bites, in batches, 2 minutes on each side or until golden.
Golden Baked Macaroni and Pimiento Cheese: Prepare recipe as directed through Step Pour macaroni mixture into a lightly greased 13- x 9-inch baking dish; do not chill. Omit eggs and 1/2 cup milk. Stir together breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese; sprinkle over mixture. Omit oil. Bake at 350° for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden and bubbly.