1 tablespoon butter 3 1/2 cups large elbow macaroni 10 ounces processed cheese, cut into 1" squares 10 ounces white Vermont cheddar cheese, cut into 1" squares 15 ounces Gruyere cheese, shredded 1 1/2 cup jack and cheddar cheese (combined), shredded 4 ounces cream cheese (at room temp.) 2/3 cup sour cream 1 1/3 cup heavy cream 1 1/3 cup half and half 1 egg 2 tablespoons flour, more as needed 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce 1 teaspoon garlic powder 1 teaspoon onion powder 1 teaspoon dry mustard powder 1/8 cayenne pepper, more to taste 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg (fresh if you have it) 1 teaspoon kosher salt 1 pinch paprika 1 tablespoon fresh chives (for garnish)
Grease a 13" x 9" nonstick metal baking pan with butter. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Prepare macaroni according to the package directions, but make sure it's al dente. Be sure to add a pinch of salt and a dash of olive oil to the boiling water while cooking. Drain pasta well and pour into the baking pan.
In a large mixing bowl, add the heavy cream, half-and-half, and sour cream; break the cream cheese into little bits with your (clean!) fingers as you add it to the bowl. Add the egg, flour, Worcestershire sauce, garlic and onion powders, dry mustard, cayenne pepper, and nutmeg; combine very well with a wire whisk to break up that cream cheese. It will look lumpy, but that's okay.
Starting at the corners of the pasta dish, place and push down the processed and white Vermont cheddar cubes. Work your way around and toward the middle (they won't push down completely, but just smush them down a bit). Now sprinkle the fabulous Gruyere cheese evenly over the top -- gently and evenly pour that artery-clogging mixture on it, covering all areas. Gently shake the pan afterwards for a sec to make sure the liquid is even. I know it sounds gross, but push down and make little holes into areas of the mixture with your fingers. (You're just getting some of that Gruyere down deeper below the surface.) Wash your hands!
Sprinkle the jack-and-cheddar combo over the mixture and sprinkle the paprika on top. Put this baby in the oven (make sure your oven rack is right in the middle) and bake until brown and bubbly -- we're talking approximately 30 minutes. It will be creamy in the center and more crusty on the top and edges. Chop some fresh chives and get those taste buds ready. When it's done, garnish with the chives.
This should be called "the only mac and cheese you'll ever need". It is outstanding. Yeah, it's more work than opening up a blue box but I swear you'll never find a macaroni and cheese recipe this good - not even at a restaurant.