A long time ago…in a galaxy not very far away…there was a Piccadilly Cafeteria inside the mall in Wichita Falls, Texas, where I grew up.
This Southeastern regional chain was a long-standing staple of Wichitan cuisine. Opened for nearly 50 years, Piccadilly welcomed mass amounts of people after church on Sunday’s and made some of the best pies in the county—pies people signed up for months in advance to take home and serve during the holiday season.
I distinctly remember my grandma, mom & I eating here at least once a week when I was a child. My entree would change day to day, but one thing was for sure: I was getting my hands on that Mac and cheese.
Piccadilly’s macaroni and cheese was an unwavering totem of culinary magnificence in my childhood eyes. It was so smoothe, so creamy, and the little strands of melted cheese that stretched out from fork to plate like sinew on a longbow made eating this national treasure a delight.
Unfortunately, we grow up. My family and I started eating here less and less often. By the time I graduated high school, Piccadilly was just a distant memory in my mind. After 50 years in Wichita Falls, the southern cafeteria met its untimely demise during the recession of 2008. The chain decided to deny resigning a lease in the mall, and subsequently left Northern Texas for good.
However, thoughts of that macaroni and cheese plagued me for years after. Even though I hadn’t tasted the liquid gold in years, I still dreamt of it; yearned it.
Fast forward seven years. I’m sitting at home, trying to decide what to cook next. I sift through my little black box of recipe cards and stumble across this copycat recipe of my childhood favorite. Could it be? I mumble to myself. Well, doesn’t hurt to try.
Within tasting the first bite, memories flooded back.
This was it.
This was my beloved Piccadilly favorite.
This is what I had wanted for years.
This was my macaroni and cheese.
Copycat Piccadilly Macaroni & Cheese
- 2.5 cups elbow macaroni
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 1/4 cups milk, warned
- 1.5 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 2 eggs
- 2 cups grated extra sharp cheddar cheese
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In large pot of boiling, salted water, cook macaroni according to package directions. Drain.
- In small saucepan, heat butter over medium-low heat.
- Stir in flour and cook 1-2 minutes. Whisk in milk, stirring constantly, until sauce begins to thicken. Add salt and pepper.
- In small bowl, beat eggs slightly. Add small amount of sauce to eggs, and then add egg mixture to sauce.
- Set aside 1/3 cup grated cheese. In buttered 2 quart baking dish, place 1/3 of macaroni on the bottom. Top with 1/3 of the cheese. Continue alternating layers of macaroni and cheese. Pour sauce all over the top of the casserole and add the reserved.
- Bake 25-30 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly. Let cool and then serve.
I hope you enjoy this as much as I do. It’s basically just your run-of-the-mill, custard-style mac & cheese, but oh—it’s so much more than that.