Mac & Cheese

 Serves: 4    |     Prep: 20 min     |     Cook: 15 min     |     Ready: 35 min


1/2 lb. dried elbow pasta
1/4 c. unsalted butter
1/4 c. all purpose flour
3/4 c. whole milk
1  1/4 c. half and half
2 c. shredded medium sharp
     cheddar cheese, divided
1 c. shredded Gruyere cheese, divided
4 oz. cream cheese
3/4 tsp. hot sauce, *optional
3/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/8 tsp. paprika



Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. and grease a 3 qt baking dish (9×13″).  Set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  When boiling, add dried pasta and cook 1 minute less than the package directs for al dente.  Drain and drizzle with a little bit of olive oil to keep from sticking.

While water is coming up to a boil, shred cheeses and toss together to mix, then divide into three piles. Approximately 1  1/2 cups for the sauce, 3/4 cups for the inner layer, and 3/4 cups for the topping.

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Sprinkle in flour and whisk to combine. Mixture will look like very wet sand. Cook for approximately 1 minute, whisking often. Slowly pour in about 1 cup or so of the half and half, while whisking constantly, until smooth. Slowly pour in the remaining half and half and the whole milk, while whisking constantly, until combined and smooth.

Continue to heat over medium heat, whisking very often, until thickened to a very thick consistency.  It should almost be the consistency of a semi thinned out condensed soup.

Remove from the heat and stir in spices and 3/4 cups of the cheeses and cream cheese, stirring to melt and combine.  Stir in another 3/4 cups of cheese, and stir until completely melted and smooth.

In a large mixing bowl, combine drained pasta with cheese sauce, stirring to combine fully.  

Pour half of the pasta mixture into the prepared baking dish.  Top with 3/4 cups of shredded cheeses, then top that with the remaining pasta mixture.

Sprinkle the top with the last 3/4 cups of cheese and bake for 15 minutes, until cheese is bubbly and lightly golden brown.

  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs) or Ritz crumbs
  • 1/2 c. cheese

For a crunchier topping and firmer consistency:
Prepare recipe as directed but bake at 350 or 375 F. degrees for 20-30 minutes.  Broil at the end of baking for approximately 2-5 minutes, until golden brown and crunchy.