Who the hell doesn’t like mac and cheese? Especially when it’s done right—Southern style. This mac and cheese is gonna put some goddamn South in your mouth. Whoever makes this on a Wednesday night, you’re gonna swear you’re having Sunday dinner with the pastor in the house. I’ve had so many mac and cheeses with so many different kinds of cheese. But we basically wanted you to be able to have a great one without getting too complicated. And please, please season your noodles after you boil them.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Lightly coat a 9 by 13-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
- Fill a medium pot with water, bring to a boil over high heat, and add a pinch of salt.
- In a second medium pot over medium-low heat, melt the ¾ cup butter. Add the flour, 2 teaspoons black pepper, 2 teaspoons garlic salt, mustard powder, and cayenne and whisk constantly until all the ingredients are incorporated and the flour no longer tastes floury, about 2 minutes. Whisking constantly, very slowly drizzle in the milk and ½ cup of the half-and-half, continuing to whisk until the liquid is fully incorporated and the mixture begins to bubble gently.
- Continue to cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture has thickened just enough to fully coat the back of a spoon, about 4 minutes. (Be very careful not to scorch the milk or the dish will have a bitter, burned flavor.) Remove from the heat; add all the extra-sharp cheddar, 1 ¼ cups of the medium cheddar, and ½ cup of the Monterey Jack; and stir until the cheeses have melted.
- Meanwhile, add the macaroni to the boiling water and cook until al dente, about 1 minute less than the package-recommended cooking time. Drain the macaroni and transfer to a large bowl. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons butter and 1 ½ tablespoons each black pepper and garlic salt and mix well. Add the cheese sauce to the seasoned macaroni and mix thoroughly. Transfer the macaroni mixture to the prepared baking dish and level the surface. Sprinkle evenly with the remaining ¾ cup medium cheddar and 1 cup Monterey Jack.
- Bake until the sauce is bubbling and the top is golden brown, about 15 minutes. Serve hot or warm. Leftover mac and cheese will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.