- 1 lb. dried elbow pasta
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 3 cups whole milk
- 2 cups grated medium sharp cheddar cheese divided (measured after grating)
- 2 cups grated Gruyere cheese divided (measured after grating)
- 2 cups grated mozzarella cheese divided (measured after grating)
- 1/2 Tbsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. black pepper
- 1/4 tsp. paprika
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease a 3 qt baking dish (9×13″). Set aside.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. When boiling, add 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, 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.
- Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Sprinkle in flour and whisk to combine. Cook for approximately 1 minute, whisking often. Slowly pour in about 2 cups or so of the milk, while whisking constantly, until smooth. Slowly pour in the remaining milk, 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 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 Panko breadcrumbs (or homemade) and bake for 15 minutes, until cheese is bubbly and lightly golden brown. Enjoy!