- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Easiest way to sift small amounts of flour: Use a regular old strainer.
- 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.
- 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.