1 lb. dried rigatoni noodles or your choice
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole milk
2 1/2 cups half and half
2 cups shredded monterey jack (or mozzarella)
2 cups grated medium or sharp cheddar cheese, depending on preference
1 cup grated Midnight Moon cheese
1/2 Tbsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. paprika
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F and grease a 3 qt baking dish (9×13″). Set aside.
- Put on a large pot of salted water to boil.
- While water is coming up to a boil, grate 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.
- When water is 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.
- Melt butter and flour in a large sauce pan 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 and thickened.
- 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. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.
- 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 1 1/2 cups of grated cheeses, then top that with the remaining pasta mixture.
- Sprinkle the top with the last 1 1/2 cups of cheese and bake for 15- 20 minutes, until cheesy is bubbly and lightly golden brown.