My kids.....probably like most kids LOVE mac and cheese. It took awhile but I finally found the perfect recipe. This one comes out smooth and creamy everytime. It's a slight adaptation of Ina Garten's Mac and Cheese with tomatoes.
1 pound elbow macaroni
4 cups of milk
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, divided
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
16 ounces of shredded cheddar cheese (4 cups)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups flavored panko bread crumbs
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Drizzle oil into a large pot of boiling salted water. Add the macaroni and cook according to the directions on the package, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain well. Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan but don't boil it. Melt 6 tablespoons of butter in a large (4-quart) pot and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. While whisking, add the hot milk and cook for a minute or two more, until thickened and smooth. Off the heat, add the cheddar cheese, 1 tablespoon salt and pepper. Add the cooked macaroni and stir well. Pour into a baking dish. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, combine them with the panko bread crumbs, and sprinkle on the top of mac and cheese. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on the top.