Deep-Fried Mac & Cheese Bites: Iowa State Fair Food
Deep-fried mac & cheese bites aren’t new to the Iowa State Fair — but they do prove that some items become fair-food classics for a reason.
In a nutshell, these things are like crack. They’re everything that’s good about boxed macaroni and cheese and then some. My colleagues and I could not stop eating them, even when we were feeling vaguely ill from our fried-food extravaganza. (Yes, we even ordered seconds.)
These glorious little nuggets are simple in concept: Bite-size amounts of gooey orange Cheddar cheese and elbow macaroni, coated in a thin crispy batter. Unlike some other deep-fried items, the batter isn’t cloying or overwhelming—it just adds a texture balance to the soft filling. (Anyone who digs a topping of crisp bread crumbs atop homemade mac-and-cheese knows what I’m talking about.) And it was the perfect amount of pasta: you registered that it was there, but there were still plenty of pockets of melty cheese.
There was heated discussion about whether the cheese is real Cheddar or not (the gentleman who served us was not very helpful on this front). I think cheese is one of the top three things that Iowa does beautifully (pork and corn are the other two on my list), so it’s possible. But one of my colleagues swears that the reason these little bites are so good is because they’re filled with “fake” cheese; hence the proper salty bite to cut through the fried coating.
Regardless, if you have the chance, indulge — you won’t be sorry. But you will be addicted.