This is a great recipe because you can make it on the stove top and not have to heat up the kitchen or dirty lots of dishes and it tastes wonderful. You can decide if you want the extra fat with cream or lighten it up with milk. This is a copy cat recipe of Panera's macaroni and cheese. Obviously they use some cream.
16 oz. pasta shells
4 tbs. butter
1/3 to ½ cup flour
2 ½ cups milk, heavy cream or half and half (you pick which one)
4 oz. white American cheese
8 oz. extra sharp white cheddar
1 tsp. Kosher salt
¼ tsp. Frank's hot sauce
In a large stockpot, cook pasta according to package directions. Drain well.
While the pasta cooks, melt the butter in a small sauce pan over medium heat. When the butter has melted and has started to bubble, whisk in the flour; cook for 1 ½ minutes whisking constantly. Gradually whisk in the milk until no lumps remain. Reduce the heat to low and cook milk mixture, whisking frequently, until it thickens and bubbles, about 8 minutes.
Remove sauce pan from the heat and by the handful, stir in the cheeses allowing all of the cheese to melt into the sauce before adding more. Stir in the mustard, salt, and hot sauce. Return the sauce pan to the heat and stir in the pasta. Be sure to stir up the sauce from the bottom of the sauce pan and thoroughly coat all of the pasta with sauce. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes over low heat until heated through.
Variation - If you want to turn the mac and cheese into a stove top tuna casserole just add some tuna and crushed crackers (maybe a can of cream of mushroom soup also). Growing up my mom used to mix mac and cheese with a can of corn beef hash and to this day I love it. Add a little fried hamburger and onion and have beef and macaroni.
Hope you have a great day, be happy and may God bless you and yours.