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CAST-IRON MAC AND CHEESE

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INGREDIENTS

    • One 12- to 14.5-ounce box whole-wheat or whole-grain pasta (I like rotini or radiatore, but elbows are nice too)
    • 1 tablespoon butter
    • 1 1/2 cups milk (I use 1 percent)
    • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
    • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 2 to 2 1/2 cups (8 to 10 ounces) grated cheese(s) of your choice, divided (the more you use, the cheesier the dish)
    • 4 to 5 tablespoons all-purpose flour

PREPARATION

    1. Preheat broiler. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil (covered to speed things up). Heat a large cast-iron skillet (8 to 10 inches across, and 2 inches or more deep) over low heat.
    2.  When the water boils, add the pasta and cook according to the package directions. Set a timer, since you’ll be distracted by the next steps.
    3.  While the pasta cooks, make the cheese sauce: Put the butter into the now very-hot skillet. It should melt, foam, and begin to brown almost immediately. Pour in the milk, then add the mustard, paprika, and salt, and whisk together.
    4.  Set aside 1/2 cup of the grated cheese for topping the final dish. Begin to add the rest of the cheese to the skillet, one handful at a time, whisking between each addition. When it has all melted, sift the flour over the skillet, one tablespoon at a time, whisking after each spoonful. Stop adding the flour when the sauce is almost as thick as housepaint.
    5. Easiest way to sift small amounts of flour: Use a regular old strainer.
    6. Continue to cook the sauce, whisking constantly, until pasta is cooked. Drain the pasta well and add to the skillet, then remove from the heat.
    7.  Stir pasta and cheese sauce together until fully combined, then sprinkle the top with the reserved grated cheese. Broil until top is browned and bubbly, 4 to 6 minutes. Cool for a few minutes before serving.

 

 

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