Mac ‘N Cheese with Smoked Gouda and Cheddar

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1 pound dried cavatappi or elbow pasta

4 cups shredded medium sharp Cheddar cheese, divided

2 cups shredded smoked Gouda cheese, divided

1 stick unsalted butter

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups whole milk

2 1/2 cups half and half

2 teaspoons dry mustard

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon paprika


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 3 cups for the sauce, 1 1/2 cups for the inner layer, and 1 1/2 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 2 cups or so of the milk/half and half, while whisking constantly, until smooth. Slowly pour in the remaining milk/half and half, while whisking constantly, until combined and smooth.

Continue to heat over medium heat, whisking very often, until thickened to a very thick consistency.

Remove from the heat and stir in spices and 1 1/2 cups of the cheeses, stirring to melt and combine. Stir in another 1 1/2 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 a greased 9×13-inch baking dish. Top with 1 1/2 cups of shredded cheeses, then top that with the remaining pasta mixture.

Sprinkle the top with the last 1 1/2 cups of cheese and bake at 325 degrees for 15 minutes, until cheesy is bubbly and lightly golden brown. Turn oven to broil, and broil for 3 to 4 minutes until top is dark in places.