Creamy Stovetop Mac and Cheese

"One cold night, a dozen friends stopped by and I made them the best mac and cheese ever with a huge conglomeration of cheeses. This version is a little simpler," says Nancy.
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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 35 min
  • Active: 30 min
  • Yield: 4 to 6 servings
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Ingredients

Kosher salt

1 pound medium shell pasta 

4 tablespoons unsalted butter 

1/4 cup all-purpose flour 

1 1/2 cups whole milk 

1 cup half-and-half 

2 cups grated cheddar cheese (about 8 ounces)

1 cup grated Colby Jack cheese (about 4 ounces) 

1 heaping teaspoon Dijon mustard 

1/8 teaspoon paprika 

Dash of hot sauce 

4 ounces cream cheese, cut into cubes 

Freshly ground black pepper 

Directions

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. When it begins to foam, sprinkle in the flour and stir until it becomes pasty, about 1 minute. Whisk in the milk and half-and-half and bring to a low simmer. Cook, stirring, until the mixture looks thick, about 5 minutes. 
  3. Add the cheddar and Colby Jack cheeses by the handful to the milk mixture, stirring well after each addition until melted. Mix in the mustard, paprika and hot sauce. Fold in the cream cheese and stir well until melted; season with salt and pepper. Stir in the cooked pasta. Serve the mac and cheese immediately while still warm and at its creamiest!