6cupsgrated cheddar cheesedivided, see the note below about types of cheeses
Ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 325F. Grease a 9x13-inch baking dish. Set aside.
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil over medium-high heat.
Add the dry pasta, and cook for 1 minute less than the box calls for for al dente pasta.
Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat.
Once melted, whisk in the flour.
Let the flour cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute.
Stir in milk and half-and-half.
Cook, whisking regularly, until the milk has thickened. The milk should coat the back of a spoon at this point.
Whisk in 3 cups of the grated cheese, salt, pepper, and mustard.
Drain the pasta, and return to the pot.
Pour the cheese sauce over the cooked pasta, and toss to coat.
Pour half of the cheesy pasta into the prepared baking dish.
Sprinkle 1.5 cups of cheese over the pasta in the baking dish.
Pour the remaining half of the cheesy pasta into the baking dish.
Sprinkle the remaining 1.5 cups of cheese over the top of the pasta.
Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until heated through and the cheese has melted.
Broil if desired.
Pasta: I use large elbow noodles in this recipe. Feel free to use another shape (like elbows, large shells, or cavatappi) if you prefer.
Butter: I use salted butter. Feel free to use unsalted if you would like.
Milk: I use whatever milk I happen to have on-hand - usually 1% or 2%. If you would like a richer mac and cheese, use whole milk. If you want a less rich mac and cheese, you can use skim.
Half-and-half: The half-and-half adds some richness to the sauce. You can use milk in place of the half-and-half if you would like.
Cheese: I like to use a blend of cheese to add more flavor to the sauce. I use a blend of sharp, white, and mild cheddar cheese. Other cheese that works well are gruyere, fontina, Monterrey Jack, Parmesan, and mozzarella. I don't recommend using cheese like Parmesan or mozzarella by themselves, but they work well in a blend.
Dry mustard: If you don't have dry mustard, you can use Dijon mustard instead. I recommend about 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of Dijon mustard.