I recieved a free copy of a new cookbook over the summer, America's Most Wanted Recipes by Ron Douglas, with the condition that I make a recipe and compare it to the restaurant original and blog it today.
I love free stuff, so I was really excited to get this cookbook and participate in the blogging event. While there are a large variety of restaurants represented, it was the recipes themselves that I found disappointing. I feel like the author did not include enough "signature" recipes, but rather went with less popular options. This is not the case for every restaurant included (he does include Panda Kitchen's orang chicken), but I was, for example, looking forward to a copycat recipe of Outback's baby back ribs. Not included.
Oh well. The cookbook was free, and there are still a ton of great-sounding recipes to try.
I was originally going to make the aforementioned orange chicken, but since i just cleaned my kitchen from top to bottom, I didn't really feel like deep frying. I needed something cheap, especially since I not only had to make the copycat, but also buy the original for a comparison.
Ultimately, I decided on Taco Bell's Mexican Pizza. This is what I always order when I go there, they're across the street from my condo, a MExican Pizza is under $3 on their menu, and buying the needed ingredients wouldn't break my (already broken) bank account.
The recipe calls for the tortillas to be deep fryed, but as I already mentioned, that was not happening in my sparkling kitchen. I just crisped them over an open flame on my stove instead.
The Taco Bell Original The Copycat
Taco Bell's Mexican Pizza
source: America's Most Wanted Recipes
8 oz ground beef
3 tablespoons taco seasoning
2 tablespoons water
vegetable oil for frying
Eight 6" flour tortillas
1 cup refried beans (I used low-fat refried black beans, as I already had several cans in the pantry)
2/3 cup enchilada sauce
1/4 cup chopped tomato
1 cup shredded Cheddar-jack cheese
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1/4 cup sliced black olives (I omitted these)
Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees.
Mix the beef, taco seasoning and water together. Brown in a skillet, over medium high heat, for about 5 minutes (or until cooked throughout). Use a wooden spoon to break up the meat as it cooks. Set aside. (I drained the grease off first and then set aside.)
Preheat 1 inch of oil to 375 degrees in a large skillet. Fry each tortilla for 30 to 45 seconds per side, or until golden brown. Be sure to pop any bubbles that form during frying so that the tortilla lies flat. Drain the tortillas on paper towels. (I skipped this entire step and just crisped them over the stove. If you do as I did, don't expect a crunchy final result.)
Assemble each pizza on a cookie sheet. First, spread 1/4 cup of the refried beans on 4 tortillas. Then, spread 1/4 cup of meat on top of the beans. Top with a second tortilla. Spread the top tortillas with 2 tablespoons of the enchilada sauce, then top with tomato, cheese, and green onions.
Bake in the oven for about 3-5 minutes, just until the cheese is melted.
These are good, but definitely not the same as Taco Bell. I know not frying the tortilla and using refried black beans plays a big roll in that, but the copycat recipe's meat is more highly seasoned (thumbs up) and it looks like the Taco Bell original also spreads some chunky salsa on top of the enchilada sauce. There was more than just diced tomatos and enchilada sauce on the real deal. Also, spread some Taco Bell hot sauce on top of your homemade version, and it comes pretty darn close to a "run for the border". :)
My husband and I enjoyed eating these, and he even said it would be a cute project to make with our future kids (awwww!). I agree, but if I am ever craving a Mexican Pizza, I will just go across the street to Taco Bell and order one. They're less than $3 and it will take less than 5 minutes. These took me about 30 minutes to make, which is the opposite of "fast food".