This is the recipe I made over the summer at Mom's house. Amy asked for it a while ago, and I have no good excuse as to why it's taken me this long.
But, make it and eat it and you'll be so happy, you'll find it in your hearts to forgive me.
I've had to increase amounts over the years, so it feeds my growing family with enough for leftovers the next day. So, this is the original recipe 4x'ed. It makes a lot, but they eat a lot. It's their favorite meal.
7-8 C. uncooked pasta (depending on how creamy you like your mac)
4 T. butter
4 T. flour
1 tsp. salt
1 scant tsp. pepper
1 heaping tsp. dry mustard
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce (DON'T leave this out. It is a subtle flavor, but really sets this recipe apart from other mac n' cheese wannabes)
4 C. half and half (you can use milk, but it's just that much amazing-er with the half and half)
5-6 C. cheese, cubed or shredded (again, the amount can vary depending on how saucy you want it. And feel free to mix it up with the cheeses--sharp cheddar, Swiss or Gruyere, Monterrey jack, Parmesan, I think I even threw in some Gouda once--it is all delicious)
6 T. some sort of topping--bread crumbs, crushed Ritz crackers, crushed corn flakes tossed with butter, or (my personal favorite) Parmesan cheese
Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain. My family likes them on the well-done side for this dish.
While the pasta is cooking, melt butter in a large sauce pan, or enameled Dutch oven over medium heat. Whisk in flour, salt, pepper, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce. Reduce heat to low.
Add the milk gradually, stirring as you go so you don't get any lumps. Add the cheese. Continue stirring until the cheese melts and the sauce is creamy and smooth and delicious.
Stir the noodles into the cheese sauce.
If you want, you can eat it right now. Usually, I can't resist a few bites at this stage. But, if you want the flavors to combine even more, you can bake it.
Pour the mixture into a 9x13, or other large glass pan. Unless you used the Dutch oven, then just leave it. Top with your topping of choice. Cover (if using aluminum foil, I recommend lightly spritzing with oil or cooking spray to prevent sticking.
Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes, or until it's bubbly and beautiful. Uncover and switch it to broil for the last 5, for a fabulous golden top.
Ideally, let it sit for 5-10 minutes so it can cool a bit and the sauce has a chance to thicken a little.