Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and lightly grease a square baking dish.
Cook the macaroni to al dente, according to package instructions. Drain and set aside.
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Blend in the flour, salt, and pepper. Cook for 2 minutes.
Slowly add the milk and half and half, stirring constantly, and cook over medium-low heat for a few minutes until the mixture is just barely thickened. Remove from heat and stir in 1 cup shredded cheese, stirring just until melted.
Add the cooked macaroni noodles and toss to coat. Pour half or the pasta mixture into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle 1/2 cup cheese over the top. Add remaining pasta and sprinkle with remaining cheese.
Bake for 15-20 minutes or until cheese is melted on top.
Serve with your favorite vegetable or a side salad.
Tips for getting a smooth cheese sauce:
High quality aged cheddar cheese will give you a stronger taste and smoother texture. More mild and inexpensive cheddar cheeses will have less flavor and almost a grittier taste.
Use fresh grated cheese. Pre-shredded store-bought cheese will not melt the same as freshly grated cheese, and grating the cheese helps it melt smoothly and evenly in the sauce.
Bring the cheese to room temperature. I like to grate the cheese very first, before moving forward with the recipe. That allows it to sit at room temperature while I prepare the white sauce.
Use low heat. In order for the cheese to melt properly and smoothly we want it to have gradual changes in temperature (like how we shredded it and allowed it to come to room temperature at the beginning of the recipe). When it’s time to add the cheese to the white sauce, remove the sauce from heat and let it cool for a few minutes. It only needs to be warm enough to melt the cheese.
Don’t over-stir the sauce once the cheese has melted. Add the noodles and quickly assemble in pan and put into the oven.