November 07, 2006 04:00 PM

½ lb. elbow macaroni
3 tbsp. butter
3 tbsp. flour
1 tbsp. powdered mustard
3 cups milk
½ cup yellow onion, finely diced
1 bay leaf
½ tsp. paprika
12 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 large egg, whisked
1 tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. white black pepper
2 cups panko bread crumbs
Canola oil for frying
1 jar favorite store-bought salsa

1. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta to al dente.
2. While the pasta is cooking, in a separate pot, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and mustard and keep it moving for about 5 minutes. Make sure it’s free of lumps. Stir in the milk, onion, bay leaf and paprika. Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring constantly. Once thick and smooth, remove from heat and discard the bay leaf.
3. Mix the shredded cheese with the whisked egg and add to the milk sauce and stir well. Season with salt and pepper. Fold the macaroni into the mix and pour into a large bowl to cool. Once cool, form the macaroni and cheese into 1-½” balls and roll in the panko bread crumbs. Chill in refrigerator for half an hour.
4. Heat oil. When oil is ready, drop a few macaroni balls into the hot oil until a golden brown.
5. Warm the salsa over low heat.
6. Serve macaroni balls at once with the warm salsa.

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