So I did another mac and cheese experiment. It turned out even better than the last recipe, if I do say so myself. Plus I learned a lot. Such as: never trust a mac and cheese recipe for the roux. You have to know your roux, defend your roux, beat the heck outta your roux until it's that badass golden color and then SLOWLY add your milk and get it to the perfect simmer as it thickens all bubbly and wonderful. I have never followed a recipe to successfully make a perfect roux. Every time I've improvised, the roux gets awesome. So: never trust the recipe.
Anyway, here's what I did.
grated an 8oz. block NY reserve aged cheddar, a 4 oz block of Yancey's Fancy roasted garlic cheddar, and a 4 oz block of Yancey's Fancy Champagne cheddar.
Boiled the pasta in salted water for 6 minutes and then drained.
Made the roux with a stick of butter, a pile of all-purpose flour, and a whisk. Seriously, I just added flour and whisked until it looked like that wonderful roux you see on food channels. Then I slowly whisked in bits of milk until it turned into a very thick gravy. Then I added more milk slowly. And then let that get thick and bubbly and coat a spoon.
Added: a whole ton of garlic powder (shame! but I was out of fresh garlic), probably 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (sprinkled it in), a teaspoon or so of smoked Spanish paprika, a teaspoon or so of dry mustard, 1/2 teaspoon-ish of kosher salt, and tasted. It tasted good.
Mixed in the cheese till it melted. Adjusted the seasonings until I tasted even more yum.
Mixed in the cooked elbow pasta. Poured the mixture into a 9x13" pan and covered with a generous amount of panko bread crumbs. Baked at 350 for 35 minutes. Took it out of the oven and let it sit for 5 minutes. Dished it up.
It was good. And no, I didn't take a picture, because I was too busy eating it.