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Umami Burger Dabbling in Barbecue, Opening Roadhouse LA

Umami Burger Dabbling in Barbecue, Opening Roadhouse LA



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The Los Angeles burger chain is dipping its toes in the barbecue waters with a new concept this summer

Roadhouse LA is set to open in Los Angeles this summer

Just as Umami Burger is amping up for its New York openings (three locations have been announced so far), the restaurant group is snatching up known New York pitmaster Robbie Richter for a Los Angeles barbecue joint.

Partering up with restaurant event company This Is Not a Pop-Up, Umami Restaurant Group has taken on Robbie Richter, formerly of Hill Country and Zak Pelaccio's Fatty 'Cue to open Roadhouse LA at the Hollywood Improv this summer (8162 Melrose Ave.).

Richter, who left Fatty 'Cue back in 2011, has been mum about his upcoming projects; menu items look to be cross-cultured, with items like paneer and smoked curried goat gravy, pork ribs with a fish sauce, pimiento mac and cheese, and a "head of the day," not to mention whole shoulders of lamb, beef, or pork. "We are going to have fun infusing global flavors into such a uniquely American culinary genre," Umami CEO Adam Fleischman said in a press release.


Steaks. Ribs. Spirits. Logans's Roadhouse

Wood-grilled steaks, fall-off-the-bone ribs, and burgers paired with signature cocktails or ice-cold beer are just a few of our Roadhouse favorites.

Members of the Logan's e-mail club will get exclusive offers, menu updates, and news all year long.

Birthdays, anniversaries, graduation or “just because”: the gift of Logan’s Roadhouse is perfect for any occasion.


What You Need

Since the ribs will be cooked indirectly, your gas grill must contain at least two burners and be large enough to fit the rack of ribs on one side while leaving space on the other. The heat will not be below the rack of ribs but instead on the other side of the grill.

To barbecue ribs on the grill, you will need these tools and ingredients:

  • Fuel for your gas grill
  • 1 rack of pork spareribs
  • Sharp knife
  • Good rib rub
  • Wood chips or chunks for smoke
  • Aluminum foil
  • 1/2 cup (120 mL) apple juice
  • Good barbecue sauce for ribs

Not using a gas grill? Try barbecue ribs on a charcoal grill for even better results.


I'm Todd Wilbur, Chronic Food Hacker

For 30 years I've been deconstructing America's most iconic brand-name foods to make the best original clone recipes for you to use at home. Welcome to my lab.

($23.88 annually)*
Save $12 vs. monthly

Includes eight (8) 79¢ recipes of your choice each month!

Includes eight (8) 79¢ recipes of your choice each month!

I never thought dinner rolls were something I could get excited about until I got my hand into the breadbasket at Texas Roadhouse. The rolls are fresh out of the oven and they hit the table when you do, so there’s no waiting to tear into a magnificently gooey sweet roll topped with soft cinnamon butter. The first bite you take will make you think of a fresh cinnamon roll, and then you can’t stop eating it. And when the first roll’s gone, you are powerless to resist grabbing for just one more. But it’s never just one more. It’s two or three more, plus a few extra to take home for tomorrow.

Discovering the secret to making rolls at home that taste as good as the real ones involved making numerous batches of dough, each one sweeter than the last (sweetened with sugar, not honey—I checked), until a very sticky batch, proofed for 2 hours, produced exactly what I was looking for. You can make the dough with a stand mixer or a handheld one, the only difference being that you must knead the dough by hand without a stand mixer. When working with the dough add a little bit of flour at a time to keep it from sticking, and just know that the dough will be less sticky and more workable after the first rise.

Roll the dough out and measure it as specified here, and after a final proofing and a quick bake—plus a generous brushing of butter on the tops—you will produce dinner rolls that look and taste just like the best rolls I’ve had at any famous American dinner chain.

Menu Description: “Two lightly fried parmesan-breaded chicken breasts are smothered with Olive Garden’s homemade marinara sauce and melted Italian cheeses. We serve our Chicken Parmigiana with a side of spaghetti for dinner.”

Chicken parmigiana is a forever favorite, and it’s not a difficult dish to whip up at home. But for it to taste like the Olive Garden signature entree, we’ll need to take some very specific steps.

Olive Garden’s chicken is salty and moist all the way through, so we must first start by brining the chicken. Give yourself an extra hour for this important marinating step. The marinara sauce used on the chicken is an Olive Garden specialty and no bottled sauce compares, so we’ll make our own from scratch using canned crushed tomatoes and the formula below.

While the sauce cooks, filling your house with its intoxicating aroma, the chicken is breaded and browned. When the marinara is done, top the chicken with the sauce and mozzarella and stick it under your hot broiler until bubbling.

Hopefully, everyone at your house is hungry, because the Olive Garden dinner portion is two chicken fillets, and this recipe will yield a total of four 2-piece servings. Add a small serving of spaghetti on the side, topped with more of the delicious sauce, and you'll have a perfect match to the restaurant plate.

Can't get enough Olive Garden? Click here for more of my copycat recipes.

Menu Description: "Made from scratch in our kitchens using fresh Grade A Fancy Russet potatoes, fresh chopped onion, natural Colby cheese and spices. Baked fresh all day long."

In the late sixties Dan Evins was a Shell Oil "jobber" looking for a new way to market gasoline. He wanted to create a special place that would arouse curiosity, and would pull travelers off the highways. In 1969 he opened the first Cracker Barrel just off Interstate 40 in Lebanon, Tennessee, offering gas, country-style food, and a selection of antiques for sale. Today there are over 529 stores in 41 states, with each restaurant still designed as a country rest stop and gift store. In fact, those stores which carry an average of 4,500 different items apiece have made Cracker Barrel the largest retailer of American-made finished crafts in the United States.

Those who know Cracker Barrel love the restaurant for its delicious home-style breakfasts. This casserole, made with hash brown-sliced potatoes, Colby cheese, milk, beef broth, and spices is served with many of the classic breakfast dishes at the restaurant. The recipe here is designed for a skillet that is also safe to put in the oven (so no plastic handles). If you don't have one of those, you can easily transfer the casserole to a baking dish after it is done cooking on the stove.

Love Cracker Barrel? Check out my other clone recipes here.

Anyone who loves Olive Garden is probably also a big fan of the bottomless basket of warm, garlicky breadsticks served before each meal at the huge Italian casual chain. My guess is that the breadsticks are proofed, and then sent to each restaurant where they are baked until golden brown, brushed with butter and sprinkled with garlic salt. Getting the bread just right for a good Olive Garden breadstick recipe was tricky—I tried several different amounts of yeast in all-purpose flour, but then settled on bread flour to give these breadsticks the same chewy bite as the originals. The two-stage rising process is also a crucial step in this much requested homemade Olive Garden breadstick recipe. Also check out our Olive Garden Italian salad dressing recipe.

Menu Description: “Creamy potato soup topped with melted cheese, bacon, and green onions.”

It’s not called baked potato soup because the potatoes in it are baked. It’s called baked potato soup because it’s topped with shredded cheese, bacon, and green onion, and it tastes like a baked potato. Other hacky hacks for this recipe miss that point and add over an hour to the preparation process by preheating an oven and baking the potatoes, all while hungry stomachs are growling on the sidelines. My version skips that part by adding the raw potatoes directly into the pot with the other ingredients, where they cook in 20 minutes, and the soup is ready to eat in less time than other recipes take just to get the potatoes done.

Also, other clones add way too much flour to thicken the soup—¾ cup! Sure, flour is good at thickening, but it doesn’t add any flavor, so I found a better way. I ended up using just a little flour to make the roux, then later thickening the soup mostly with dehydrated potato flakes, which are usually used to make quick mashed potatoes. The flakes not only do a great job of thickening the soup, but they also add more delicious potato flavor to the pot.

Top your finished soup with shredded cheese, crumbled bacon, and green onion, and every spoonful will taste like a fully loaded baked potato.

Finish off your meal with a famous entrée from Outback like Alice Springs Chicken, or Toowoomba Steak.

There are many acceptable ways to formulate good queso, but to make this specific queso the ingredients must be correct, and most copycat recipes seem to get it wrong. A few recipes get one of the peppers and two of the cheeses right, but pretty much every recipe out there is a bit of a mess that I will now save you from.

Quesos can be made with a variety of cheeses that include queso fresco, asadero, and Muenster, but this particular queso includes a cheese you probably didn’t expect: Swiss. That cheese is slow to melt, so we’ll shred it first, along with the Jack. And you won't need to gum up the queso with flour or cornstarch by making a roux because the white American cheese in the mix contains sodium citrate or sodium phosphate—additives that help the cheese melt smoothly and stay that way.

Authors of recipes that call for tomatoes in this dish haven’t looked closely. Those are red bell peppers and they are roasted, peeled, and seeded along with the poblano and jalapenos before they are diced and added to the cheese sauce. The sauce cooks on low heat, never bubbling, so that it stays smooth and creamy.

When done, the queso might seem thin in the pan, but it will thicken as it cools to a perfect consistency for dipping tortilla chips, or as a topping for tacos and burrito bowls.

A requirement of any visit to Chicago is eating at least one slice of deep dish pizza in the city that perfected it. Deep dish pizza quickly became a Chicago staple after Ike Sewell and Ric Riccardo opened the first Pizzeria Uno in 1943 and served a hearty new style of pizza constructed in a high-rimmed cake pan. The yeast crust was tender and flakey, like a pastry, and the cheese was layered under the sauce so that it wouldn’t burn in a hot oven for the long cooking time.

While researching a home hack of this now-iconic recipe, I discovered an unexpected technique that I hadn’t seen in other deep dish recipes. Employees told me the pizza crusts are partially cooked each morning to cut down on the wait time for customers. Before the restaurant opens each day, cooks press the dough into a pan and then sprinkle it with a little shredded cheese. The shells are then partially baked and set aside. Later, when an order comes in, the pizza is built into one of the par-baked crusts and finished off. This way customers get their food faster, and the tables turn over quicker.

Copying that delicious, flakey crust was the task that took me the longest. After two weeks of baking, I finally settled on a formula that was a mash-up of yeast dough and pie crust and made a perfectly tender deep dish crust, with great flavor that exactly mimicked the original. If you like Uno, you will love this.

Regarding the cheese: be sure your cheese is at room temperature, not cold, or it may not melt all the way through. Also, it’s best if you buy cheese by the block and shred it yourself. Pre-shredded cheese is dusted with cornstarch so that the shreds don’t stick together in the bag, and it won’t melt as smoothly as cheese you shred by hand.

This recipe will make enough sauce for two pizzas. I just thought you should know that in case you get the urge to make another deep dish after this one disappears.

This recipe was our #4 most popular in 2019. Check out the other four most unlocked recipes of the year: Texas Roadhouse Rolls (#1) KFC Extra Crispy Fried Chicken (#2), Olive Garden Braised Beef Bolognese (#3), Bush's Country Style Baked Beans (#5).

Menu Description: "Smoked ham, smoked turkey, two cheeses, battered and fried until golden with raspberry preserves and dusted with powdered sugar."

When pondering casual chains with the best Monte Cristo sandwiches, two come to mind: Bennigan's and Cheddar's recipes. At each chain the sandwich is built with turkey, ham, and cheese, then it’s battered and fried, dusted with powdered sugar, and served with raspberry preserves for dipping. It probably sounds strange if you've never had one, but Monte Cristo alums know it all tastes pretty darn great together. I hacked Bennigans' version years ago for my cookbook Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2, and recently, on a trip to Charlotte, North Carolina, I was able to get my hands on Cheddars' signature version of this famous sandwich.

I planned for the mission by bringing along a cooler of ice so that I could get a fresh sample safely back home. Once I was back in the lab in Vegas, I subjected the sandwich to a series of tasty tests, burned through several versions of batter, and eventually assembled this new Cheddar's Monte Cristo copycat recipe that I think is even better than my previous Bennigan's hack. The better batter is the big secret here—it's light and crispy and perfectly golden brown, and the sandwich features two kinds of cheese, both white and yellow American. Will this be the best Monte Cristo you've ever had? You’re about to find out.

Menu Description: "Two fresh breakfast favorites are even better together with our buttermilk pancakes swirled with cinnamon-brown sugar."

This new Cheesecake Factory brunch item packs everything you love about cinnamon rolls into an extra-wide stack of pancakes, including buttery icing on top. To make pancakes that are caramel brown on their faces and super spongy with lots of air pockets, you’ll need a tablespoon of baking soda in the batter. When the alkaline baking soda collides with the acidic buttermilk, the batter will instantly puff up, making pancakes that are extra light and airy, and very dark on their surface, like pretzels.

The batter here makes plain buttermilk pancakes until the secret cinnamon filling is swirled over the top of the batter when it's poured into the pan. The combination of brown sugar, powdered sugar, cinnamon, and butter will melt into the pancake, making it look and taste like a sweet, buttery cinnamon roll. Hopefully you have a big griddle or very large skillet to cook these on. The original pancakes are 7 to 8 inches across, so you’ll need a big cooking surface if you want to cook more than one at a time. Or you could just make smaller pancakes.

Three things make Costco Blueberry Muffins special: they’re huge, they’re moist, and berries are bursting out of the top of each one. Now your home muffins can be just as special using a similar recipe and freshly unlocked tricks from our favorite big-box store.

Obviously, you get huge muffins by using a huge muffin pan, so you’ll need a jumbo or “Texas-size” muffin pan if you want your muffins the same size as the originals. You can certainly make standard muffins with this batter in a standard-size muffin pan, but in this case, bigger is definitely better.

To get muffins that are moist you’ll need oil. I noticed many muffin recipes use butter, but I found it made the muffins taste more like butter cake or pound cake than true muffins. Looking at the ingredients listed on the package of Kirkland muffins, you won’t find any butter in there. Just oil. For this hack, some of that oil comes from margarine (for a mild butter flavor and thicker batter), and the rest is vegetable oil.

As for the blueberries, if you add them straight into the batter the juice frozen on the outside of the berries will streak your batter blue, so be sure to rinse the berries before you add them. And to make your muffins look as irresistible as those at Costco, we’ll use another one of their tasty tricks: press 4 blueberries into the batter in each cup just before the pan goes into the oven so that every baked muffin is sure to have several tantalizing berries popping out of the top.

Menu Description: “Creamy marsala wine sauce with mushrooms over grilled chicken breasts, stuffed with Italian cheeses and sundried tomatoes. Served with garlic mashed potatoes.”

This recipe includes a marsala sauce that even marsala sauce haters will like. My wife is one of those haters, but when she tried this sauce, her eyes lit up and she begged for more. That’s great, now I won’t have to eat alone.

Not only is Olive Garden's delicious marsala sauce hacked here (and it’s easy to make), you’ll also get the copycat hack for the chain's awesome Italian cheese stuffing that goes between the two pan-cooked chicken fillets. Build it, sauce it, serve it. The presentation is awesome, and the flavor will soothe your soul.

Try this dish paired with my recent clone of Olive Garden’s Garlic Mashed Potatoes for the complete O.G. Stuffed Chicken Marsala experience.

There’s one copycat recipe for these famous biscuits that’s posted and shared more than any other, and it’s downright awful. The dough is formulated with self-rising flour, baking powder, powdered sugar, shortening, and buttermilk, and many complain that the recipe creates dough that’s much too loose and the resulting biscuits are a complete disaster. Yet there the recipe remains on blogs and boards all over the interweb for unsuspecting home cloners such as yourself to waste time on. But that won’t happen anymore, because I have made a good copycat Bojangles' buttermilk biscuits recipe that works the way it should, guaranteeing you’ll get amazing golden buttermilk biscuits that look and taste just like a trained Bojangles’ pro made them.

In addition to the obvious overuse of buttermilk, the popular recipe I found online has many problems. The author gets it right when calling for self-rising flour, which is flour containing salt and a leavening agent (aka baking powder), but why would the copycat Bojangles biscuit recipe be designed to use self-rising flour and then add additional leaving? Well, it probably wouldn’t. Biscuits are job number 1 for self-rising flour, and the leavening in there is measured for that use, so there’s no need to add more. If you were planning to add your own leavening, you’d probably start with all-purpose flour, which has no leavening in it. And let's just be clear: baking powder tastes gross, so we want to add as little as possible, not more than necessary.

It’s also important to handle the dough the same way that workers at Bojangles’ do. They make biscuits there every 20 minutes and there are plenty of YouTube videos showing the preparation technique. In a nutshell, the dough is mixed by hand (in the restaurant they use their hands because the quantity is so large, but for this recipe use a mixing spoon), then it’s folded over a few times on a floured countertop before it’s rolled out. This gentle handling of the dough prevents the gluten in the flour from toughening and adds layers, so your biscuits come out of the oven tender and flakey.

For the best results, find White Lily flour. This self-rising flour is low in gluten and makes unbelievably fluffy biscuits. If you use another self-rising brand, you’ll still get great biscuits, but the gluten level will likely be higher, the biscuits will be tougher, and you’ll probably need more buttermilk. Head down to the Tidbits below for details on that.

And I noticed another thing most copycat Bojangles biscuit recipes get wrong. For biscuits that are beautifully golden brown on the top and bottom, you’ll want to bake them on a silicone baking mat (or parchment paper) at 500 degrees F. Yes, 500 degrees. That may seem hot, but this high temp works well with self-rising flour, and in 12 to 15 minutes the biscuits will be perfectly browned.

Counterintuitively, it’s the lower temperatures that end up burning the biscuits, while the higher temperature cooks them just right. At lower temps the biscuits must stay in the oven longer to cook through, which exposes the surfaces to more heat, and they end up too dark on the outside, especially the bottom. For even better results, if you have a convection setting on your oven, use that and set the temp to 475 degrees F. Your biscuits will look like they came straight from the drive-thru.


I'm Todd Wilbur, Chronic Food Hacker

For 30 years I've been deconstructing America's most iconic brand-name foods to make the best original clone recipes for you to use at home. Welcome to my lab.

Includes eight (8) 79¢ recipes of your choice each month!

This delicious crispy chicken in a citrusy sweet-and-sour chicken is the most popular dish at the huge Chinese take-out chain. Panda Express cooks all of its food in woks. If you don't have one of those, you can use a heavy skillet or a large saute pan.

($23.88 annually)*
Save $12 vs. monthly

Includes eight (8) 79¢ recipes of your choice each month!

By sneaking around to the back of a HoneyBaked Ham store I witnessed the glazing process through an open door. The hams are delivered to each of the 300 HoneyBaked outlets already smoked, but without the glaze. It is only when the ham gets to your local HoneyBaked store that a special machine thin-slices the tender meat in a spiral fashion around the bone. Then, one at a time, each ham is then coated with the glaze—a blend that is similar to what might be used to make pumpkin pie. This sweet coating is then caramelized with a blowtorch by hand until the glaze bubbles and melts, turning golden brown. If needed, more of the coating is added, and the blowtorch is fired up until the glaze is just right. It's this careful process that turns the same size ham that costs 20 dollars in a supermarket into one that customers gladly shell out 3 to 4 times as much to share during the holiday season.

For this HoneyBaked Ham glaze copycat recipe, we will re-create the glaze that you can apply to a smoked/cooked bone-in ham of your choice. Look for a ham that is pre-sliced. Otherwise you'll have to slice it yourself with a sharp knife, then the glaze will be applied. To get the coating just right you must use a blowtorch. Get the kind that is used for creme brulee from almost any kitchen supply store. They're usually pretty cheap. And don't worry—I didn't leave out an ingredient. No honey is necessary to re-create this flavorful glaze.

In early 1985, restaurateur Rich Komen felt there was a specialty niche in convenience-food service just waiting to be filled. His idea was to create an efficient outlet that could serve freshly made cinnamon rolls in shopping malls throughout the country. It took nine months for Komen and his staff to develop a cinnamon roll recipe he knew customers would consider the "freshest, gooiest, and most mouthwatering cinnamon roll ever tasted." The concept was tested for the first time in Seattle's Sea-Tac mall later that year, with workers mixing, proofing, rolling, and baking the rolls in full view of customers. Now, more than 626 outlets later, Cinnabon has become the fastest-growing cinnamon roll bakery in the world.

In the early 90's Boston Chicken was rockin' it. The home meal replacement chain's stock was soaring and the lines were filled with hungry customers waiting to sink their teeth into a serving of the chain's delicious rotisserie chicken. So successful was the chain with chicken, that the company quickly decided it was time to introduce other entree selections, the first of which was a delicious barbecue sauce-covered ground sirloin meatloaf. But offering the other entrees presented the company with a dilemma: what to do about the name. The bigwigs decided it was time to change the name to Boston Market, to reflect a wider menu. That meant replacing signs on hundreds of units and retooling the marketing campaigns. That name change, plus rapid expansion of the chain and growth of other similar home-style meal concepts sent the company into a tailspin. By 1988, Boston Market's goose was cooked, and the company filed for bankruptcy. Soon McDonald's stepped in to purchase the company, with the idea of closing many of the stores for good, and slapping Golden Arches on the rest. But that plan was scrapped when, after selling many of the under-performing Boston Markets, the chain began to fly once again. Within a year of the acquisition Boston Market was profitable, and those meals with the home-cooked taste are still being served at over 700 Boston Market restaurants across the country.

How about some of those famous Boston Market side-dishes to go with your copycat meatloaf recipe? I've cloned all the best ones here.

Menu Description: "A creamy hot dip of artichokes, spinach and Parmesan with pasta chips."

Just about every aspect of the Olive Garden restaurants was developed from consumer research conducted in a corporate think tank by the General Mills Corporation. Restaurant-goers were questioned about preferences, such as the type of food to be served, the appearance and atmosphere of the restaurant, even the color of the candleholders on each table. The large tables and the comfy chairs on rollers that you see at the Olive Garden restaurants came out of those vigorous research sessions.

I'm not sure if this dish came from those sessions, but according to servers at the Olive Garden, the Hot Artichoke-Spinach Dip is one of the most requested appetizers on the menu. The restaurant serves the dip with chips made from fried pasta, but you can serve this version of the popular appetizer with just about any type of crackers, chips, or toasted Italian bread, like bruschetta.

I've cloned a ton of famous dishes from Olive Garden. See if I hacked your favorites here.

One hot summer day in 1946 Dave Barham was inspired to dip a hot dog into his mother's cornbread batter, then deep fry it to a golden brown. Dave soon found a quaint Santa Monica, California location near the beach to sell his new creation with mustard on the side and a tall glass of ice-cold lemonade. Be sure you find the shorter turkey hot dogs, not "bun-length". In this case size does matter. Snag some of the disposable wood chopsticks from a local Chinese or Japanese restaurant next time you're there and start dipping.

Update 5/3/17: If your hot dogs are browning too fast, turn the temperature of the oil down to 350 degrees. And rather than using chopsticks, thick round skewer sticks (corn dog skewers) found in houseware stores and online will work much better.

This recipe makes the same size appetizer serving that you get in the restaurant. That's only 6 shrimp—enough for me, but what are you guys having? Thank goodness the remoulade sauce and the shrimp seasoning formulas yield enough for a bigger serving, so you can grill up to a pound of shrimp with this recipe. Find bags of frozen uncooked shrimp that have been peeled, but with the tails left on.

Try more of my copycat recipes from Outback here.

Here's a dish from a rapidly growing Chinese food chain that should satisfy anyone who loves the famous marinated bourbon chicken found in food courts across America. The sauce is the whole thing here, and it's quick to make right on your own stove-top. Just fire up the barbecue or indoor grill for the chicken and whip up a little white rice to serve on the side. Panda Express - now 370 restaurants strong - is the fastest-growing Asian food chain in the world. You'll find these tasty little quick-service food outlets in supermarkets, casinos, sports arenas, college campuses, and malls across the country passing out free samples for the asking.

Menu Description: "Our famous Original cheesecake recipe! Creamy and light, baked in a graham cracker crust. Our most popular cheesecake!"

Oscar and Evelyn Overton's wholesale cheesecake company was successful quickly after it first started selling creamy cheesecakes like this clone to restaurant chains in the early 1970's. When some restaurants balked at the prices the company was charging for high-end desserts, Oscar and Evelyn's son David decided it was time to open his own restaurant, offering a wide variety of quality meal choices in huge portions, and, of course, the famous cheesecakes for dessert. Today the chain has over 87 stores across the country, and consistently ranks number one on the list of highest grossing single stores for a U.S. restaurant chain.

Baking your cheesecakes in a water bath is part of the secret to producing beautiful cheesecakes at home with a texture similar to those sold in the restaurant. The water surrounds your cheesecake to keep it moist as it cooks, and the moisture helps prevent ugly cracking. You'll start the oven very hot for just a short time, then crank it down to finish. I also suggest lining your cheesecake pan with parchment paper to help get the thing out of the pan when it's done without a hassle.

This recipe is so easy, even a 2-year old can make it. Check out the video.

More amazing Cheesecake Factory copycat recipes here.

Hope your crew is hungry because this recipe makes four Mexican Pizzas like those served at the Bell: seasoned ground beef and refried beans are sandwiched between two crispy flour tortillas, topped with melted cheddar cheese, salsa, diced tomato, and chopped green onion. Slice it like a pizza and serve it with a smile. Prepare to blow your diners away with this Taco Bell Mexican pizza recipe if they're at all familiar with the real thing.

Try some Diablo, hot, or mild sauce for that authentic Taco Bell experience.

They're the world's most famous French fries, responsible for one-third of all U.S. French fry sales, and many say they're the best. These fried spud strips are so popular that Burger King even changed its own recipe to better compete with the secret formula from Mickey D's. One-quarter of all meals served today in American restaurants come with fries a fact that thrills restaurateurs since fries are the most profitable menu item in the food industry. Proper preparation steps were developed by McDonald's to minimize in-store preparation time, while producing a fry that is soft on the inside and crispy on the outside. This clone requires a two-step frying process to replicate the same qualities: the fries are par-fried, frozen, then fried once more to crispy just before serving. Be sure to use a slicer to cut the fries for a consistent thickness (1/4-inch is perfect) and for a cooking result that will make them just like the real thing. As for the rumor that you must soak the fries in sugar water to help them turn golden brown, I also found that not to be necessary. If the potatoes have properly developed they contain enough sugar on their own to make a good clone with great color.

Now, how about a Big Mac or Quarter Pounder to go with those fries? Click here for a list of all my McDonald's copycat recipes.

The talented chefs at Benihana cook food on hibachi grills with flair and charisma, treating the preparation like a tiny stage show. They juggle salt and pepper shakers, trim food with lightning speed, and flip the shrimp and mushrooms perfectly onto serving plates or into their tall chef's hat.

One of the side dishes that everyone seems to love is the fried rice. At Benihana this dish is prepared by chefs with precooked rice on open hibachi grills, and is ordered a la cart to complement any Benihana entree, including Hibachi Steak and Chicken. I like when the rice is thrown onto the hot hibachi grill and seems to come alive as it sizzles and dances around like a bunch of little jumping beans. Okay, so I'm easily amused.

This Benihana Japanese fried rice recipe will go well with just about any Japanese entree and can be partially prepared ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator until the rest of the meal is close to done.

Menu Description: "Fresh vegetables, beans and pasta in a light tomato broth—a vegetarian classic."

This copycat Olive Garden minestrone soup recipe is jam-packed with beans, zucchini, onion, tomatoes, carrots, pasta, and spices but O.G.'s secret formula doesn't include chicken broth. Canned vegetable broth found in the soup aisle of most markets works as a base here in this secret formula that bursts with flavor as a purely vegetarian dish.

Check out my other Olive Garden copycat recipes here.

Outback makes their sauces and salad dressings from scratch every day following master formulas in a corporate cookbook. Now you've got a secret recipe of your own that will duplicate the taste of their hugely popular house honey mustard recipe. You'll need just three basic ingredients and only about two minutes of free time for this Outback honey mustard dressing recipe.

It was in 1995 that Starbucks stores started selling this frozen drink, one of the company's most successful new products. The Frappuccino is blended with strong coffee, sugar, a dairy base, and ice. Each one is made to order and each one is guaranteed to give you a throbbing brain freeze if you sip too hard. The drinks come in several different varieties, the most popular of which Ive cloned here for your frontal lobe-pounding, caffeine-buzzing pleasure.

Make double-strength coffee by measuring 2 tablespoons of ground coffee per cup serving in your coffee maker. The clone will be even more authentic if you use Starbucks beans and grind them yourself just before brewing.

Check out my Starbucks copycat recipes for more coffee drinks and baked goods here.

The packet of Taco Bell spices you buy in grocery stores makes delicious spicy beef for tacos, but don't expect it to taste exactly the same as the beef at the giant Mexican food chain. For a better clone, use this recipe. Once the meat is prepped, it's simple to build soft tacos the Taco Bell way using these steps. If you want crispy tacos, replace the soft flour tortillas with crunchy corn shells.

You won't find freezers, can openers, or microwave ovens at this national Mexican food chain. Since 1990 Baja Fresh has been serving up great food, made fresh with each order. As you're waiting for your food to come out, that's when you hit up the salsa bar, where you'll find several varieties of delicious fresh salsa, from hot to mild, ready to be spooned into little tubs that you can take to your table or to your car. One of the most popular selections is called Salsa Baja—its medium spiciness, smoky flavor, and deep black color make the salsa unique and mysterious. That is, until now, since I've got a Top Secret formula for you right here. But the recipe wasn't as easy to create as I first thought. I figured the tomatoes would have to be extremely blackened over a hot grill, but I wasn't sure how to get them dark enough to turn the salsa black without the tomatoes getting all mushy and falling apart on the barbecue.

So, I went back to Baja Fresh before they opened to peer through the window to see if I could catch some hot salsa production action. I waited and waited. After several hours as the lunch rush was beginning to wind down and no fresh salsa was in the pipeline, it was time for extreme measures to get things moving. I went in and ordered 30 tubs of Salsa Baja to go, and that did it. I ended up with a big bag filled with 2 gallons of salsa (thankfully they poured those 8-ounce portions into bigger bowls), and the restaurant went immediately into "salsa red alert" to replenished the now-dwindling salsa reserve. It was perfect. As I was grabbing my bag of salsa, a dude come out from the kitchen with a huge box of tomatoes and placed them all on the grill. I ordered a giant Diet Pepsi and parked myself at a close table to watch the process. That's when I discovered the secret. For super-charred tomatoes they start with firm, chilled tomatoes, that aren't too big or too ripe. I also found out that the tomatoes must start roasting on the grill with the stem-side down. The rest was simple.

In Zagat's 1995 New York City Restaurant Survey, Le Cirque 2000, one of the city's most upscale restaurants, received a 25 rating out of a possible 30. In the same guide, Al "The Soup Nazi" Yeganeh's Soup Kitchen International scored an impressive 27. That put the Soup Nazi's eatery in 14th place among the city's best restaurants for that year.

It was common to see lines stretching around the corner and down the block as hungry patrons waited for their cup of one of five daily hot soup selections. Most of the selections changed every day, but of the three days that I was there, the Mexican Chicken Chili recipe was always on the menu. The first two days it was sold out before I got to the front of the line. But on the last day I got lucky: "One extra-large Mexican Chicken Chili, please." Hand over money, move to the extreme left.

Here is a hack for what has become one of the Soup Nazi's most popular culinary masterpieces. If you like, you can substitute turkey breast for the chicken to make turkey chili, which was the soup George Costanza ordered on the show.

Update 1/9/17: Replace the 10 cups of water with 8 cups of chicken broth for a shorter simmer time and better flavor. I also like using El Pato tomato sauce (recipe calls for 1/2 cup) for a bit more heat.

Menu Description: "A true taste of the tropics. National award-winning recipe."

Many of the key lime pie recipes circulating, including the recipe found on bottles of key lime juice, have a glaring error: they don't make enough filling to fit properly into a standard 9-inch graham crust pie shell. That's probably because those recipes are designed around one 14-ounce can of sweetened condensed milk. But if we're going to make a beautifully thick key lime pie like the one served at Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville restaurants we need to use something like 1 1/2 cans of sweetened condensed milk, or more accurately, two cups of the stuff. The clone recipe for the pie is a simple one that's for sure, with only four ingredients including the pie shell. But don't stop there. I'm also including a easy way to make mango sauce by reducing a couple cans of Kern's mango juice. And there's a raspberry sauce recipe here that's made easily with frozen raspberries. These two sauces are used to jazz up the plate at the restaurant and are certainly optional for your clone version, even though I've made them as easy as, um, you know.

The little red packets of viscous hot sauce at the fast food giant have a cult following of rabid fans who will do whatever it takes to get their hands on large quantities. One such fan of the sauce commented online, "Are there any Wendy's employees or managers out there who will mail me an entire case of Hot Chili Seasoning? I swear this is not a joke. I love the stuff. I tip extra cash to Wendy's workers to get big handfuls of the stuff." Well, there's really no need to tip any Wendy's employees, because now you can clone as much of the spicy sauce as you want in your own kitchen with this Top Secret Recipe.

The ingredients listed on the real Hot Chili Seasoning are water, corn syrup, salt, distilled vinegar, natural flavors, xanthan gum, and extractives of paprika. We'll use many of those same ingredients for our clone, but we'll substitute gelatin for the xanthan gum (a thickener) to get the slightly gooey consistency right. For the natural flavor and color we'll use cayenne pepper, cumin, paprika, and garlic powder, then filter the particles out with a fine wire-mesh strainer after they've contributed what the sauce needs.

This recipe makes 5 ounces of sauce— just the right amount to fit nicely into a used hot sauce bottle—and costs just pennies to make.

Claim Jumper restaurants may only be found in the West, but the chain can claim national recognition for its delicious garlic cheese bread and toast. That's because you can find boxed loaves of the stuff ready for baking in the frozen food section of your well-stocked local supermarket. The recipe is such a simple one though, that it doesn't take much longer to make the cheesy goodness from scratch, and you save a few shekels to boot. Plus, it's nice to use fresh bread—your choice of either Texas toast or your favorite French loaf. The restaurant serves the Texas toast version, and the supermarket version is a French loaf. All you have to do for a clone is mix together a few basic ingredients, spread it generously on the bread of your choice, and pop it in the oven.

Click here for more of your favorite dishes from Claim Jumper!

Menu Description: "Our award-winning Baby Back Ribs are slow-roasted, then basted with Jim Beam Bourbon BBQ Sauce and finished on our Mesquite grill."

When your crew bites into these baby backs they'll savor meat so tender and juicy that it slides right off the bone. The slow braising cooks the ribs to perfection, while the quick grilling adds the finishing char and smoky flavor. But the most important component to any decent rack of ribs is a sauce that's filled with flavor, and this version of Roadhouse Grill's award-wining sauce is good stuff. I ordered the ribs naked (without sauce) so that I could see if there was any detectable rub added before cooking and I didn't find anything other than salt and a lot of coarse black pepper. So that's the way I designed the recipe, and it works.

Now, how about a copycat Roadhouse Grill Roadhouse Rita to wash down those ribs.

Menu Description: "Here they are in all their lip-smacking, award-winning glory: Buffalo, New York-style chicken wings spun in your favorite signature sauce."

Since Buffalo, New York was too far away, Jim Disbrow and Scott Lowery satisfied their overwhelming craving in 1981 by opening a spicy chicken wing restaurant close to home in Kent, Ohio. With signature sauces and a festive atmosphere, the chain has now evolved from a college campus sports bar with wings to a family restaurant with over 300 units. While frying chicken wings is no real secret—simply drop them in hot shortening for about 10 minutes—the delicious spicy sauces make the wings special. There are 12 varieties of sauce available to coat your crispy chicken parts at the chain, and I'm presenting clones for the more traditional flavors. These sauces are very thick, almost like dressing or dip, so we'll use an emulsifying technique that will ensure a creamy final product where the oil won't separate from the other ingredients. Here is the chicken wing cooking and coating technique, followed by clones for the most popular sauces: Spicy Garlic, Medium and Hot. The sauce recipes might look the same at first, but each has slight variations make your sauce hotter or milder by adjusting the level of cayenne pepper. You can find Frank's pepper sauce by the other hot sauces in your market. If you can't find that brand, you can also use Crystal Louisiana hot sauce.

Southern California—the birthplace of famous hamburgers from McDonalds, Carls Jr. and In-n-Out Burger—is home to another thriving burger chain that opened its first store in 1952. Lovie Yancey thought up the perfect name for the 1/3 pound burgers she sold at her Los Angeles burger joint: Fatburger. Now with over 41 units in California, Nevada, and moving into Washington and Arizona, Fatburger has become the food critic's favorite, winning "best burger in town" honors with regularity. The secret is the seasoned salt used on the beef patty. And there's no ketchup on the regular version, just mayo, mustard, and relish. Replace the ground beef with ground turkey and you've just cloned Fatburger's popular Turkeyburger.

Menu Description: "Nearly world-famous. Often imitated, hardly ever duplicated."

"Hooters is to chicken wings what McDonald's is to hamburgers," claims promotional material from the company. True, the six fun-loving Midwestern businessmen who started Hooters in Clearwater, Florida, on April Fool's Day in 1983 chose a classic recipe for chicken wings as their signature item. But while some might say it's the buffalo wings that are their favorite feature of the restaurant, others say it's the restaurant chain's trademark Hooters girls—waitresses casually attired in bright orange short-shorts and skin tight T-shirts.

Today there are over 375 Hooters across the United States serving more than 200 tons of chicken wings every week. The original dish can be ordered in 10-, 20-, or 50-piece servings or if you want to splurge, there's the "Gourmet Chicken Wing Dinner" featuring 20 wings and a bottle of Dom Perignon champagne, for only $125. To further enhance the Hooters experience when you serve these messy wings, throw a whole roll of paper towels on the table, rather than napkins, as they do in the restaurants.

This super simple Chili's salsa recipe can be made in a pinch with a can of diced tomatoes, some canned jalapeños, fresh lime juice, onion, spices, and a food processor or blender. Plus you can easily double the recipe by sending in a larger 28-ounce can of diced tomatoes, and simply doubling up on all the other ingredients. Use this versatile salsa as a dip for tortilla chips or plop it down onto any dish that needs flavor assistance—from eggs to taco salads to wraps to fish. You can adjust the Chili's salsa recipe heat level to suit your taste by tweaking the amount of canned jalapeños in the mix.

Now, what's for dinner? Check out some copycat entrees from your favorite restaurants here.

Jerrico, Inc., the parent company for Long John Silver's Seafood Shoppes, got its start in 1929 as a six-stool hamburger stand called the White Tavern Shoppe. Jerrico was started by a man named Jerome Lederer, who watched Long John Silver's thirteen units dwindle in the shadow of World War II to just three units. Then, with determination, he began rebuilding. In 1946 Jerome launched a new restaurant called Jerry's and it was a booming success, with growth across the country. Then he took a chance on what would be his most successful venture in 1969, with the opening of the first Long John Silver's Fish 'n' Chips. The name was inspired by Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island. In 1991 there were 1,450 Long John Silver Seafood Shoppes in thirty-seven states, Canada, and Singapore, with annual sales of more than $781 million. That means the company holds about 65 percent of the $1.2 billion quick-service seafood business.

Menu Description: "Lightly-dusted, stir-fried in a sweet Szechwan sauce."

The delicious sweet-and-spicy secret sauce is what makes this dish one of P. F. Chang's top picks. Once the sauce is finished all you have to do is saute your chicken and combine. You'll want to cook up some white or brown rice, like at the restaurant. If you can't find straight chili sauce for this recipe, the more common chili sauce with garlic in it will work just as well.

Check out my other P.F. Chang's clone recipes here.

For decades, Carl’s Jr. has effectively cornered the market on fried zucchini at major fast food chains by serving a great crispy breaded version that’s flavorful all the way through. Now you can make zucchini that tastes just as good, as long as you know the secret step that other fried zucchini recipes miss. It makes all the difference.

The secret is a brine. I found that this fried zucchini tastes best when it takes a salted water bath before breading. In 60 minutes, the salt in the brine is absorbed by the zucchini, spreading good flavor all the way through. After the brine, the zucchini is rinsed, coated twice with flour and once with seasoned breadcrumbs, and fried to a beautiful golden brown.

I’m giving you a couple choices here. You can make the recipe all the way through and serve it immediately, or if you want to serve it later, you can par-fry the zucchini and freeze it for several days. After that, when an occasion arises, a couple minutes is all it takes to finish off the dish and serve it. This recipe makes enough for a small gathering, but you can easily cut it in half for a more intimate hang.

Click here for more amazing Carl's Jr. copycat recipes.

Menu Description: "Meaty and spicy, served piping-hot with chopped onions, shredded cheddar, and a whole jalapeño."

When you're craving a big hot bowl of hearty chili to warm the bones and fill your belly make one that has become a classic. This hack of the Lone Star signature dish is easy-to-make, low in fat, and delicious. And if it's super brisk outside, you might want to add an additional tablespoon of diced jalapeño to the pot to aggressively stoke some internal flames.

Check out my other clone recipes for top dishes from Lone Star Steakhouse here.

Some say it's the best off-the-shelf barbecue sauce in the business. That secret combination of molasses, liquid smoke, and spices makes this stuff irresistible on chicken, ribs, or a juicy hamburger. Keep it fresh for your next cookout by whipping up your own home clone batch from scratch.

Try more famous copycat sauce recipes here.

Menu Description: "A delicious combination of ham and turkey, plus Swiss and American cheeses on wheat bread. Lightly battered and fried until golden. Dusted with powdered sugar and served with red raspberry preserves for dipping."

It sounds crazy, but it tastes great: a triple-decker ham, turkey, and cheese sandwich is dipped in a tempura-style batter fried to a golden brown then served with a dusting of powdered sugar and a side of raspberry preserves. For over ten years tons of cloning requests for this one have stacked up at TSR Central, so it was time for a road trip. There are no Bennigan's in Las Vegas, and since the Bennigan's chain made this sandwich famous, I headed out to the nearest Bennigan's in San Diego. Back home, with an ice chest full of original Monte Cristo sandwiches well-preserved and ready to work with, I was able to come up with this simple clone for a delicious sandwich that is crispy on the outside, and hot, but not greasy, on the inside (the batter prevents the shortening from penetrating). This recipe makes one sandwich, which may be enough for two. If you want to make more, you'll most likely have to make more batter so that any additional sandwiches get a real good dunking. Recently, Bennigan's restaurants across the country have been closing, but with this secret formula you can still experience the taste of the chain's signature sandwich.

As he worked long, hard days at a shipyard in Hingham, Massachusetts, during World War II, William Rosenberg was struck with an idea for a new kind of food service. As soon as the war ended, Rosenberg started Industrial Luncheon Services, a company that delivered fresh meals and snacks to factory workers. When Rosenberg realized that most of his business was in coffee and donuts, he quit offering his original service. He found an old awning store and converted it into a coffee-and-donut shop called The Open Kettle. This name was soon changed to the more familiar Dunkin' Donuts, and between 1950 and 1955 five more shops opened and thrived. The company later spread beyond the Boston area and has become the largest coffee-and-donut chain in the world.

Today, Dunkin' Donuts offers fifty-two varieties of donuts in each shop, but the most popular have always been the plain glazed and chocolate-glazed yeast donuts.

Popeyes Famous Fried Chicken and Biscuits has become the third-largest quick-service chicken chain in the world in the twenty-two years since its first store opened in New Orleans in 1972. (KFC has the number-one slot, followed by Church's Chicken). Since then, the chain has grown to 813 units, with many of them overseas in Germany, Japan, Jamaica, Honduras, Guam, and Korea.

Cayenne pepper and white pepper bring the heat to this crispy fried chicken hack.

Did you like this recipe? Get your hands on my secret recipe for Popeyes Chicken Sandwich and other Popeyes dishes here.

The automated process for creating Krispy Kreme doughnuts, developed in the 1950's, took the company many years to perfect. When you drive by your local Krispy Kreme store between 5:00 and 11:00 each day (both a.m. and p.m.) and see the "Hot Doughnuts Now" sign lit up, inside the store custom-made stainless steel machines are rolling. Doughnut batter is extruded into little doughnut shapes that ride up and down through a temperature and humidity controlled booth to activate the yeast. This creates the perfect amount of air in the dough that will yield a tender and fluffy finished product. When the doughnuts are perfectly puffed up, they're gently dumped into a moat of hot vegetable shortening where they float on one side until golden brown, and then the machine flips them over to cook the other side. When the doughnuts finish frying, they ride up a mesh conveyor belt and through a ribbon of white sugar glaze. If you're lucky enough to taste one of these doughnuts just as it comes around the corner from the glazing, you're in for a real treat—the warm circle of sweet doughy goodness practically melts in your mouth. It's this secret process that helped Krispy Kreme become the fastest-growing doughnut chain in the country.

As you can guess, the main ingredient in a Krispy Kreme doughnut is wheat flour, but there is also some added gluten, soy flour, malted barley flour, and modified food starch plus egg yolk, non-fat milk, flavoring, and yeast. I suspect a low-gluten flour, like cake flour, is probably used in the original mix to make the doughnuts tender, and then the manufacturer adds the additional gluten to give the doughnuts the perfect framework for rising. I tested many combinations of cake flour and wheat gluten, but found that the best texture resulted from cake flour combined with all-purpose flour. I also tried adding a little soy flour to the mix, but the soy gave the dough a strange taste and it didn't benefit the texture of the dough in any way. I excluded the malted barley flour and modified food starch from the Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut recipe since these are difficult ingredients to find. These exclusions didn't seem to matter because the real secret in making these doughnuts look and taste like the original lies primarily in careful handling of the dough.

The Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut recipe dough will be very sticky when first mixed together, and you should be careful not to over mix it or you will build up some tough gluten strands, and that will result in chewy doughnuts. You don't even need to touch the dough until it is finished with the first rising stage. After the dough rises for 30 to 45 minutes it will become easier to handle, but you will still need to flour your hands. Also, be sure to generously flour the surface you are working on when you gently roll out the dough for cutting. When each doughnut shape is cut from the dough, place it onto a small square of wax paper that has been lightly dusted with flour. Using wax paper will allow you to easily transport the doughnuts (after they rise) from the baking sheet to the hot shortening without deflating the dough. As long as you don't fry them too long—1 minute per side should be enough—you will have tender homemade doughnuts that will satisfy even the biggest Krispy Kreme fanatics.


I'm Todd Wilbur, Chronic Food Hacker

For 30 years I've been deconstructing America's most iconic brand-name foods to make the best original clone recipes for you to use at home. Welcome to my lab.

Includes eight (8) 79¢ recipes of your choice each month!

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Includes eight (8) 79¢ recipes of your choice each month!

Some say it's the best off-the-shelf barbecue sauce in the business. That secret combination of molasses, liquid smoke, and spices makes this stuff irresistible on chicken, ribs, or a juicy hamburger. Keep it fresh for your next cookout by whipping up your own home clone batch from scratch.

Try more famous copycat sauce recipes here.

Before he became America's sausage king, Jimmy Dean was known for crooning the country hit "Big Bad John." That song came out in 1962 and sold more than 8 million copies. His singing success launched a television career on ABC with The Jimmy Dean Show, where Roy Clark, Patsy Cline, and Roger Miller got their big breaks. The TV exposure led to acting roles for Jimmy, as a regular on Daniel Boone, and in feature films, including his debut in the James Bond flick Diamonds are Forever. Realizing that steady income from an acting and singing career can be undependable, Jimmy invested his show-biz money in a hog farm. In 1968 the Jimmy Dean Meat Company developed the special recipe for sausage that has now become a household name. Today the company is part of the Sara Lee Corporation, and Jimmy retired as company spokesman in 2004.

This clone recipe re-creates three varieties of the famous roll sausage that you form into patties and cook in a skillet. Use ground pork found at the supermarket—make it lean pork if you like—or grind some up yourself if you have a meat grinder.

Check out more of my famous breakfast food clone recipes here.

In the Bush’s Beans commercials, Duke, the family golden retriever, wants to sell the secret family recipe, but the Bush family always stops him. The dog is based on the Bush family’s real-life golden retriever, and the campaign, which began in 1995, made Bush’s the big dog of the canned baked beans market practically overnight. Their confidential baked beans formula is considered one of the top 10 biggest recipe secrets in the U.S.

Bush Brothers & Company had been canning a variety of fruits and vegetables for over 60 years when, in 1969, the company created canned baked beans using a cherished recipe from a family matriarch. Sales jumped from 10 thousand cases in the first year to over 100 thousand cases in 1970. And just one year later sales hit a million cases. Today Bush’s makes over 80 percent of the canned baked beans sold in the U.S., and the secret family recipe remains a top food secret, despite Duke’s attempts. A replica of the original recipe book—without the original recipe in it (drat!)—is on display at the company's visitor center in Chestnut Hill, Tennessee.

I chose to hack the “Country Style” version of Bush’s Beans because I don’t think the Original flavor has enough, uh, flavor. Country Style is similar to Original, but richer, with more brown sugar. The recipe starts by soaking dry small white beans in a brine overnight. The salt in the water helps to soften the skins, but don’t soak them for more than 14 hours or the skins may begin to fall off.

My first versions tasted great but lacked the deep brown color of the real Bush’s beans, which include caramel coloring—an ingredient that can be hard to find on its own. I eventually discovered that the “browning” sauce, Kitchen Bouquet, will add the dark caramel color needed to our home version of the beans so that they’ll look just like the real thing.

This recipe was our #5 most popular in 2019. Check out the other four most unlocked recipes of the year: Texas Roadhouse Rolls (#1) KFC Extra Crispy Fried Chicken (#2), Olive Garden Braised Beef Bolognese (#3), Pizzeria Uno Chicago Deep Dish Pizza (#4).

I never thought dinner rolls were something I could get excited about until I got my hand into the breadbasket at Texas Roadhouse. The rolls are fresh out of the oven and they hit the table when you do, so there’s no waiting to tear into a magnificently gooey sweet roll topped with soft cinnamon butter. The first bite you take will make you think of a fresh cinnamon roll, and then you can’t stop eating it. And when the first roll’s gone, you are powerless to resist grabbing for just one more. But it’s never just one more. It’s two or three more, plus a few extra to take home for tomorrow.

Discovering the secret to making rolls at home that taste as good as the real ones involved making numerous batches of dough, each one sweeter than the last (sweetened with sugar, not honey—I checked), until a very sticky batch, proofed for 2 hours, produced exactly what I was looking for. You can make the dough with a stand mixer or a handheld one, the only difference being that you must knead the dough by hand without a stand mixer. When working with the dough add a little bit of flour at a time to keep it from sticking, and just know that the dough will be less sticky and more workable after the first rise.

Roll the dough out and measure it as specified here, and after a final proofing and a quick bake—plus a generous brushing of butter on the tops—you will produce dinner rolls that look and taste just like the best rolls I’ve had at any famous American dinner chain.

Getting a table at the 123-year-old original Rao’s restaurant in New York City is next to impossible. The tables are “owned” by regulars who schedule their meals months in advance, so every table is full every night, and that’s the way it’s been for the last 38 years. The only way an outsider would get to taste the restaurant’s fresh marinara sauce is to be invited by a regular.

If that isn’t in the stars for you, you could buy a bottle of the sauce at your local market (if they even have it). It won't be fresh, and it's likely to be the most expensive sauce in the store, but it still has that great Rao's taste. An even better solution is to copy the sauce for yourself using this new and very easy hack.

The current co-owner of Rao’s, Frank Pellegrino Jr., told Bon Appetit in 2015 that the famous marinara sauce was created by his grandmother many years ago, and the sauce you buy in stores is the same recipe served in his restaurants. The ingredients are common, but correctly choosing the main ingredient—tomatoes—is important. Try to find San Marzano-style whole canned tomatoes, preferably from Italy. They are a little more expensive than typical canned tomatoes, but they will give you some great sauce.

After 30 minutes of cooking, you’ll end up with about the same amount of sauce as in a large jar of the real thing. Your version will likely be just a little bit brighter and better than the bottled stuff, thanks to the fresh ingredients. But now you can eat it anytime you want, with no reservations, at a table you own.

You might also like my #1 recipe of 2019, Texas Roadhouse Rolls.

To get their Extra Crispy Chicken so crispy KFC breads the chicken two times. This double breading gives the chicken its ultra craggy exterior and extra crunch, which is a different texture than the less crispy Original Recipe Chicken that’s breaded just once and pressure fried.

As with my KFC Original Recipe hack, we must first brine the chicken to give it flavor and moisture all the way through, like the real thing, then the chicken is double breaded and deep fried until golden brown. KFC uses small chickens which cook faster, but small chickens can be hard to find. If your chicken parts are on the large side, they may not cook all the way through in the 12 to 15 minutes of frying I’m specifying here. To be sure your chicken is cooked, start frying with the thickest pieces, like the breasts, then park them in a 300-degree oven while you finish with the smaller pieces. This will keep the chicken warm and crispy, and more importantly, ensure that they are cooked perfectly all the way through.

On my CMT show Top Secret Recipe I chatted with Winston Shelton, a long-time friend of KFC founder Harland Sanders. Winston saw the Colonel's handwritten secret recipe for the Original Recipe chicken, and he told me one of the secret ingredients is Tellicherry black pepper. It's a more expensive, better-tasting black pepper that comes from the Malabar coast in India, and you should use it here if you can find it. Winston pulled me aside and whispered this secret to me when he thought we were off-camera, but our microphones and very alert cameramen caught the whole thing, and we aired it.

I first published this hack in Even More Top Secret Recipes, but recently applied some newly acquired secrets and tips to make this much-improved version of one of the most familiar fried chicken recipes in the world.

This recipe was our #2 most popular in 2019. Check out the other four most unlocked recipes of the year: Texas Roadhouse Rolls (#1), Olive Garden Braised Beef Bolognese (#3), Pizzeria Uno Chicago Deep Dish Pizza (#4), Bush's Country Style Baked Beans (#5).

This 220-unit downscaled version of P.F. Chang’s China Bistro targets the lunch crowd with a smaller menu that features bento boxes, bowls, and small plates. The bestseller on the menu is this orange chicken, which I have to say is pretty damn good orange chicken. Obviously, a clone is needed for this one, stat.

The name “Wei Better Orange Chicken” is a competitive callout to Panda Express's signature orange chicken, which is made with pre-breaded and frozen chicken. Pei Wei claims its orange chicken is prepared each day from scratch with chicken that is never frozen, so we’ll craft our clone the same way. But rather than assemble the dish in a wok over a high-flame fast stove like they do at the restaurant, we’ll prepare the sauce and chicken separately, then toss them with fresh orange wedges just before serving.

By the way, this dish goes very well with white or brown rice, so don’t forget to make some.

Popeyes Famous Fried Chicken and Biscuits has become the third-largest quick-service chicken chain in the world in the twenty-two years since its first store opened in New Orleans in 1972. (KFC has the number-one slot, followed by Church's Chicken). Since then, the chain has grown to 813 units, with many of them overseas in Germany, Japan, Jamaica, Honduras, Guam, and Korea.

Cayenne pepper and white pepper bring the heat to this crispy fried chicken hack.

Did you like this recipe? Get your hands on my secret recipe for Popeyes Chicken Sandwich and other Popeyes dishes here.

Crafting a clone of Olive Garden’s signature Lasagna Classico became the perfect opportunity to create a beautiful multi-layered lasagna hack recipe that uses up the whole box of lasagna noodles and fills the baking pan all the way to the top. This Top Secret Recipe makes a lasagna that tips the scale at nearly 10 pounds and will feed hungry mouths for days, with every delicious layer copied directly from the carefully dissected Olive Garden original.

I found a few credible bits of intel in a video of an Olive Garden chef demonstrating what he claims is the real formula on a midday news show, but the recipe was abbreviated for TV and the chef left out some crucial information. One ingredient he conspicuously left out of the recipe is the secret layer of Cheddar cheese located near the middle of the stack. I wasn’t expecting to find Cheddar in lasagna, but when I carefully separated the layers from several servings of the original dish, there was the golden melted cheesy goodness in every slice.

This clone recipe will make enough for 8 big portions, but if you make slightly smaller slices this is easily enough food to fill twelve lasagna-loving bellies. If you like lasagna, you're going to love this version.

Browse my other Olive Garden clone recipes here.

Anyone who loves Olive Garden is probably also a big fan of the bottomless basket of warm, garlicky breadsticks served before each meal at the huge Italian casual chain. My guess is that the breadsticks are proofed, and then sent to each restaurant where they are baked until golden brown, brushed with butter and sprinkled with garlic salt. Getting the bread just right for a good Olive Garden breadstick recipe was tricky—I tried several different amounts of yeast in all-purpose flour, but then settled on bread flour to give these breadsticks the same chewy bite as the originals. The two-stage rising process is also a crucial step in this much requested homemade Olive Garden breadstick recipe. Also check out our Olive Garden Italian salad dressing recipe.

A recipe for Portuguese sweet bread inspired the soft rolls that became a big hit at Robert Tiara's Bakery & Restaurant in Honolulu, Hawaii in the 1950s. It wasn’t long before Robert changed the name of his thriving business to King’s Hawaiian, and in 1977 the company opened its first bakery on the mainland, in Torrance, California, to make the now-famous island sweet rolls sold in stores across the U.S.

King’s Hawaiian Rolls are similar to Texas Roadhouse Rolls in that they are both pillowy, sweet white rolls, so it made sense to dig out my Texas Roadhouse Rolls clone recipe and use it as a starting point. These new rolls had to be slightly softer and sweeter, so I made some adjustments and added a little egg for color. And by baking the dough in a high-rimmed baking pan with 24 dough balls placed snugly together, I ended up with beautiful rolls that rose nicely to the occasion, forming a tear-apart loaf just like the original, but with clean ingredients, and without the dough conditioners found in the packaged rolls.

Use these fluffy sweet rolls for sandwiches, sliders, or simply warmed up and slathered with soft European butter.

This recipe was our #3 most popular in 2020. Check out the other four most unlocked recipes for the year: Rao's Homemade Marinara Sauce (#1), Olive Garden Lasagna Classico (#2), Pei Wei Better Orange Chicken (#4), Chipotle Mexican Grill Carnitas (#5).

Samuel Bath Thomas immigrated from England to New York City and opened his first bakery there in 1880. That is where Thomas created skillet bread that would one day become the famous muffins known for their craggy texture when split in half. This hack for Thomas’ English Muffins uses a special kneading process to give the muffins the "nooks and crannies" they are famous for, making craters in the finished bread to better hold on to melted butter and jam.

I have seen several recipes that claim to re-create these muffins, but none produce the large air pockets that a proper clone requires, in addition to great flavor and a perfectly cooked interior. To ensure proper nooks and crannies and muffins that are cooked all the way through, I've included some important steps.

The dough you'll make here is like a ciabatta dough in that it is very wet. So rather than kneading the dough, you stretch and fold it over several times on a well-oiled surface. Then, when the portioned-out dough has proofed on baking sheets for another 1½ to 2 hours, you par-bake the muffins.

After baking, the muffins are cooked on a griddle or in a pan until dark brown on both sides, then they must cool. This is the hardest part. The muffins will be too soft to open for at least four hours, and now you have to fight off the temptation to eat one. It’s hard, I know. The muffins smell great and you’ve waited all this time, but resist for now and your patience will be rewarded.

When the muffins have had their rest, split them with a fork and toast them as you would any English muffin.

Check out all my top secret recipes for famous bread here.

Menu Description: "Here they are in all their lip-smacking, award-winning glory: Buffalo, New York-style chicken wings spun in your favorite signature sauce."

Since Buffalo, New York was too far away, Jim Disbrow and Scott Lowery satisfied their overwhelming craving in 1981 by opening a spicy chicken wing restaurant close to home in Kent, Ohio. With signature sauces and a festive atmosphere, the chain has now evolved from a college campus sports bar with wings to a family restaurant with over 300 units. While frying chicken wings is no real secret—simply drop them in hot shortening for about 10 minutes—the delicious spicy sauces make the wings special. There are 12 varieties of sauce available to coat your crispy chicken parts at the chain, and I'm presenting clones for the more traditional flavors. These sauces are very thick, almost like dressing or dip, so we'll use an emulsifying technique that will ensure a creamy final product where the oil won't separate from the other ingredients. Here is the chicken wing cooking and coating technique, followed by clones for the most popular sauces: Spicy Garlic, Medium and Hot. The sauce recipes might look the same at first, but each has slight variations make your sauce hotter or milder by adjusting the level of cayenne pepper. You can find Frank's pepper sauce by the other hot sauces in your market. If you can't find that brand, you can also use Crystal Louisiana hot sauce.

In early 1985, restaurateur Rich Komen felt there was a specialty niche in convenience-food service just waiting to be filled. His idea was to create an efficient outlet that could serve freshly made cinnamon rolls in shopping malls throughout the country. It took nine months for Komen and his staff to develop a cinnamon roll recipe he knew customers would consider the "freshest, gooiest, and most mouthwatering cinnamon roll ever tasted." The concept was tested for the first time in Seattle's Sea-Tac mall later that year, with workers mixing, proofing, rolling, and baking the rolls in full view of customers. Now, more than 626 outlets later, Cinnabon has become the fastest-growing cinnamon roll bakery in the world.

A popular staple of any Chinese chain is the fried rice so it better be good, and the version served at Panda Express most certainly is. Here's an easy hack when you need a stress-free, low-cost side for your entrées. But I do suggest that you cook the white rice several hours or even a day or two before you plan to make the finished dish. I found that the cooked rice called for in this recipe works best when it's cold.

As for a shortcut, bagged frozen peas and carrots will save you from the hassle of petite-dicing carrots since the carrots in those bags are the perfect size to produce an identical clone. And they're already cooked.

Now, how about some Honey Walnut Shrimp, or Beijing Beef to go with that rice? Find all my Panda Express copycat recipes here.

Braised and shredded pork shoulder is a staple of Mexican cuisine that Chipotle prepares with a simple blend of flavors, and a surprising ingredient you may not have expected: juniper berries. Once you track those down (they’re easy to find online), the berries are combined with thyme and bay leaves in a braising liquid that will transform your own pork roast into an easily shreddable thing of beauty in under 3 hours. Then you can use your freshly cloned carnitas on tacos, in burritos, or in a bowl over rice and beans just like they do in the restaurant.

When picking your pork roast, try to find one without too much fat. If your roast has a thick cap of fat on it, trim off the excess. You want some fat in your braising liquid, but if the cap of fat is too thick, it may not fully render down and you’ll get chunks of fat in the shred.

It’s often assumed that the pork butt is from the rear end of the pig, even though cuts from the back region already have a name: ham. The pork butt, also known as a Boston butt, is cut from the other end, the upper shoulder of the pig. It’s called a “butt” because in pre-Revolutionary War New England the roasts were stored and transported in barrels called “butts”, and the confusing name stuck.

A requirement of any visit to Chicago is eating at least one slice of deep dish pizza in the city that perfected it. Deep dish pizza quickly became a Chicago staple after Ike Sewell and Ric Riccardo opened the first Pizzeria Uno in 1943 and served a hearty new style of pizza constructed in a high-rimmed cake pan. The yeast crust was tender and flakey, like a pastry, and the cheese was layered under the sauce so that it wouldn’t burn in a hot oven for the long cooking time.

While researching a home hack of this now-iconic recipe, I discovered an unexpected technique that I hadn’t seen in other deep dish recipes. Employees told me the pizza crusts are partially cooked each morning to cut down on the wait time for customers. Before the restaurant opens each day, cooks press the dough into a pan and then sprinkle it with a little shredded cheese. The shells are then partially baked and set aside. Later, when an order comes in, the pizza is built into one of the par-baked crusts and finished off. This way customers get their food faster, and the tables turn over quicker.

Copying that delicious, flakey crust was the task that took me the longest. After two weeks of baking, I finally settled on a formula that was a mash-up of yeast dough and pie crust and made a perfectly tender deep dish crust, with great flavor that exactly mimicked the original. If you like Uno, you will love this.

Regarding the cheese: be sure your cheese is at room temperature, not cold, or it may not melt all the way through. Also, it’s best if you buy cheese by the block and shred it yourself. Pre-shredded cheese is dusted with cornstarch so that the shreds don’t stick together in the bag, and it won’t melt as smoothly as cheese you shred by hand.

This recipe will make enough sauce for two pizzas. I just thought you should know that in case you get the urge to make another deep dish after this one disappears.

This recipe was our #4 most popular in 2019. Check out the other four most unlocked recipes of the year: Texas Roadhouse Rolls (#1) KFC Extra Crispy Fried Chicken (#2), Olive Garden Braised Beef Bolognese (#3), Bush's Country Style Baked Beans (#5).

The first Auntie Anne's pretzel store opened in 1988 in the heart of pretzel country—a Pennsylvanian Amish farmers' market. Over 500 stores later, Auntie Anne's is one of the most requested secret clone recipes around, especially on the internet. Many of the copycat Auntie Anne's soft pretzel recipes passed around the Web require bread flour, and some use honey as a sweetener. But by studying the Auntie Anne's home pretzel-making kit in the secret underground laboratory, I've discovered a better solution for re-creating the delicious mall treats than any clone recipe out there. For the best quality dough, you just need all-purpose flour. And powdered sugar works great to perfectly sweeten the dough. Now you just have to decide if you want to make the more traditional salted pretzels, or the sweet cinnamon sugar-coated kind. Decisions, decisions.

For many years this entree has been a top menu choice at Maggiano's, the 54-unit Italian chain from Brinker, the same company that operates Chili’s Grill & Bar. The $30 restaurant dish consists of three 2½-ounce tenderloin steaks, swimming in a fantastic balsamic cream sauce with sliced portobello mushrooms—but a home version of the signature dish is only seven easy steps away, and it won't hit you in the wallet as hard as the pricey original.

Cracking this dish required a perfect hack of the sauce, and that came quickly after obtaining some very reliable information from my incredibly helpful server/informant at a Las Vegas Maggiano’s. Let’s call him Skippy.

According to Skippy, the balsamic cream sauce is as simple as mixing a sweet balsamic glaze with the chain’s creamy alfredo sauce. So, I first got a sample of Maggiano’s alfredo sauce and figured out how to replicate it. Once that was done, I measured increments of balsamic glaze into the alfredo sauce until the color and flavor matched the original. The rest of the recipe was easy.

This recipe will make two servings of the dish and includes preparation for the tenderloins and sauce. If you’d like to complete the dish the way it’s served at the restaurant (as in the photo), add some garlic mashed potatoes on the side, using my hack for Olive Garden Garlic Mashed Potatoes.

Menu Description: “Two lightly fried parmesan-breaded chicken breasts are smothered with Olive Garden’s homemade marinara sauce and melted Italian cheeses. We serve our Chicken Parmigiana with a side of spaghetti for dinner.”

Chicken parmigiana is a forever favorite, and it’s not a difficult dish to whip up at home. But for it to taste like the Olive Garden signature entree, we’ll need to take some very specific steps.

Olive Garden’s chicken is salty and moist all the way through, so we must first start by brining the chicken. Give yourself an extra hour for this important marinating step. The marinara sauce used on the chicken is an Olive Garden specialty and no bottled sauce compares, so we’ll make our own from scratch using canned crushed tomatoes and the formula below.

While the sauce cooks, filling your house with its intoxicating aroma, the chicken is breaded and browned. When the marinara is done, top the chicken with the sauce and mozzarella and stick it under your hot broiler until bubbling.

Hopefully, everyone at your house is hungry, because the Olive Garden dinner portion is two chicken fillets, and this recipe will yield a total of four 2-piece servings. Add a small serving of spaghetti on the side, topped with more of the delicious sauce, and you'll have a perfect match to the restaurant plate.

Can't get enough Olive Garden? Click here for more of my copycat recipes.

I’m not sure why Einstein Bros. claims there are just four cheeses in the new Twice-Baked Hash Brown when the ingredients clearly list six kinds of cheese, plus cream cheese. Regardless, the shredded Asiago, Romano, Parmesan, provolone, and mozzarella listed there can be found combined in an “Italian Blend” at many supermarkets, making for an easy start to our home clone. And don’t just be thinking about breakfast for these cheesy potatoes. They work great as a side for any meal.

In the detailed description of the new item, Einstein Bros. claims the hash browns contain two kinds of schmears, which is true, but a little misleading because one of them is just plain cream cheese. The other is onion-and-chive cream cheese, which we can make from scratch. We’ll combine those two shmears into one blend by doubling the cream cheese added to our onion-and-chive schmear formula.

Mix everything together and load the ingredients into a standard 12-cup muffin pan with circles of parchment paper cut out to fit into the bottom of the 12 cups. Without these parchment circles, the hash browns may stick and break when they’re released. You can also use paper muffin cups, if you don’t mind the less crispy, ridged sides.

Bake them the first time for 30 minutes, then cool and store. Now you have a dozen servings of cheesy hash brown potatoes that are easy to finish off by baking them a second time until crispy. They are great served with breakfast, or for dinner as your starchy side alongside beef, chicken, lamb, and many other savory entrees.

You can also make homemade Einstein Bros bagels, sandwiches, and shmears. See if I hacked your favorites here.

Here's a dish from a rapidly growing Chinese food chain that should satisfy anyone who loves the famous marinated bourbon chicken found in food courts across America. The sauce is the whole thing here, and it's quick to make right on your own stove-top. Just fire up the barbecue or indoor grill for the chicken and whip up a little white rice to serve on the side. Panda Express - now 370 restaurants strong - is the fastest-growing Asian food chain in the world. You'll find these tasty little quick-service food outlets in supermarkets, casinos, sports arenas, college campuses, and malls across the country passing out free samples for the asking.

“Don’t call them fries,” says KFC about its popular side made with sliced, skin-on russet potatoes. What sets these potatoes apart from all the others is the secret breading made with a similar seasoning blend to the one used for Colonel's Original Recipe Fried Chicken. To achieve the proper crispiness, the potatoes are par-fried, frozen, then fried again until golden brown.

One important ingredient that completes the flavor is MSG. Monosodium glutamate is a food additive derived from glutamic acid, which is an important amino acid found in abundance in nature, food, and in you right now. Over the last 60 years of study and use, MSG has not only been found harmless in normal amounts, but tests have shown glutamate to be a chemical messenger that benefits gut health, immunity, and brain functions such as memory and learning. In addition to all of that, it imparts a unique savoriness that enhances flavors in other ingredients and makes your food taste amazing. Using MSG in your food is, literally, smart cooking.

Another important ingredient is ground Tellicherry black pepper, a select black pepper from India. Winston Shelton, a friend of Harland Sanders who invented the first high-volume pressure fryers for KFC, confirmed this. Shelton recalled seeing the ingredient when Sanders showed him the secret formula for the fried chicken seasoning he had scribbled on a piece of paper.

While we were shooting the first episode of my TV Show, Top Secret Recipe, Winston pulled me aside and whispered to me that Tellicherry pepper is crucial to creating the unique KFC aftertaste. It was a great tip, and fortunately, we caught that moment on camera and you can see it in the show. Later, I conducted a side-by-side taste test with common black pepper and Tellicherry black pepper and discovered Winston was right. If you want the best taste for your clone you'll need Tellicherry pepper, which you can find online and in some food stores. Be sure to grind it fine before using it.

For this recipe, just two russet potatoes are all it takes to make the equivalent of a large serving of fried potato wedges, which will be enough for at least four people.

Braised Beef Pasta Menu Description: “Slow-simmered meat sauce with tender braised beef and Italian sausage, tossed with ruffled pappardelle pasta and a touch of alfredo sauce—just like Nonna’s recipe.”

It’s a mistake to assume that a recipe posted to a restaurant chain’s website is the real recipe for the food served there. I’ve found this to be the case with many Olive Garden recipes, and this one is no exception. A widely circulated recipe that claims to duplicate the chain’s classic Bolognese actually originated on Olive Garden’s own website, and if you make that recipe you’ll be disappointed when the final product doesn’t even come close to the real deal. I won’t get into all the specifics of the things wrong with that recipe (too much wine, save some of that for drinking!), but at first glance it’s easy to see that a few important ingredients found in traditional Bolognese sauces are conspicuously missing, including milk, basil, lemon, and nutmeg.

I incorporated all those missing ingredients into this new hack recipe, tweaked a few other things, and then tested several methods of braising the beef so that it comes out perfectly tender: covered, uncovered, and a combo. The technique I settled on was cooking the sauce covered for 2 hours, then uncovered for 1 additional hour so that the sauce reduces and the beef transforms into a fork-flakeable flavor bomb. Yes, it comes from Olive Garden, but this Bolognese is better than any I’ve had at restaurants that charge twice as much, like Rao’s where the meat is ground, not braised, and they hit you up for $30.

As a side note, Olive Garden’s menu says the dish comes with ruffled pappardelle pasta, but it’s actually mafaldine, a narrower noodle with curly edges (shown in the top right corner of the photo). Pappardelle, which is the traditional pasta to serve with Bolognese, is a very wide noodle with straight edges, and it’s more familiar than mafaldine, so perhaps that’s why the menu fudges this fact. In the end, it doesn’t really matter which pasta you choose. Just know that a wide noodle works best. Even fettuccine is good here.

For the little bit of alfredo sauce spooned into the middle of the dish I went with a premade bottled sauce to save time. You can also make this from scratch if you like (I’ve got a great hack for Olive Garden’s Alfredo Sauce), but it’s such a small amount that premade sauce in either a chilled tub from the deli section or in a bottle off the shelf works great here.

This recipe was our #3 most popular in 2019. Check out the other four most unlocked recipes of the year: Texas Roadhouse Rolls (#1) KFC Extra Crispy Fried Chicken (#2), Pizzeria Uno Chicago Deep Dish Pizza (#4), Bush's Country Style Baked Beans (#5).

And browse my other Olive Garden clone recipes here.

There are many acceptable ways to formulate good queso, but to make this specific queso the ingredients must be correct, and most copycat recipes seem to get it wrong. A few recipes get one of the peppers and two of the cheeses right, but pretty much every recipe out there is a bit of a mess that I will now save you from.

Quesos can be made with a variety of cheeses that include queso fresco, asadero, and Muenster, but this particular queso includes a cheese you probably didn’t expect: Swiss. That cheese is slow to melt, so we’ll shred it first, along with the Jack. And you won't need to gum up the queso with flour or cornstarch by making a roux because the white American cheese in the mix contains sodium citrate or sodium phosphate—additives that help the cheese melt smoothly and stay that way.

Authors of recipes that call for tomatoes in this dish haven’t looked closely. Those are red bell peppers and they are roasted, peeled, and seeded along with the poblano and jalapenos before they are diced and added to the cheese sauce. The sauce cooks on low heat, never bubbling, so that it stays smooth and creamy.

When done, the queso might seem thin in the pan, but it will thicken as it cools to a perfect consistency for dipping tortilla chips, or as a topping for tacos and burrito bowls.

One of two pasta dishes currently on the pizza giant’s menu, the Meaty Marinara Pasta was first introduced in a 2008 April Fool’s publicity stunt when Pizza Hut claimed it was changing its name to “Pasta Hut.” No one fell for the prank but they did fall for the pasta, and that's why the Tuscani Creamy Chicken Alfredo Pasta and Meaty Marinara Pasta have been on the menu ever since. The sauce is the big secret here it's simple and classic, but customized to produce a marinara with that distinct Pizza Hut taste. And the recipe will make more than enough pasta to go around.

The hack is an easy one. After browning the seasoned beef you add it to the sauce, simmer the sauce until thick, then spread it over one pound of rotini pasta in a baking dish in two layers so that every bite is filled with flavor. Sprinkle shredded mozzarella over the top and melt it until golden brown under your broiler. Boom! No one can resist. You rule.

This simple and inexpensive meal will feed eight, and leftovers keep well in the fridge for a couple of days.

Also check out my clone recipe for Pizza Hut Tuscani Creamy Chicken Alfredo Pasta.

By sneaking around to the back of a HoneyBaked Ham store I witnessed the glazing process through an open door. The hams are delivered to each of the 300 HoneyBaked outlets already smoked, but without the glaze. It is only when the ham gets to your local HoneyBaked store that a special machine thin-slices the tender meat in a spiral fashion around the bone. Then, one at a time, each ham is then coated with the glaze—a blend that is similar to what might be used to make pumpkin pie. This sweet coating is then caramelized with a blowtorch by hand until the glaze bubbles and melts, turning golden brown. If needed, more of the coating is added, and the blowtorch is fired up until the glaze is just right. It's this careful process that turns the same size ham that costs 20 dollars in a supermarket into one that customers gladly shell out 3 to 4 times as much to share during the holiday season.

For this HoneyBaked Ham glaze copycat recipe, we will re-create the glaze that you can apply to a smoked/cooked bone-in ham of your choice. Look for a ham that is pre-sliced. Otherwise you'll have to slice it yourself with a sharp knife, then the glaze will be applied. To get the coating just right you must use a blowtorch. Get the kind that is used for creme brulee from almost any kitchen supply store. They're usually pretty cheap. And don't worry—I didn't leave out an ingredient. No honey is necessary to re-create this flavorful glaze.

The Southern-themed chain famous for its gift shops filled with made-in-America products and delicious homestyle food is also known to have a particularly good meatloaf. This dish ranks high in popularity, right up there with the Chicken ‘n Dumplins and the Hash Brown Casserole, so a good hack is long overdue.

Making meatloaf is easy. What’s hard is making it taste like the meatloaf at Cracker Barrel which is tender and juicy, and flavored with onion, green pepper, and tomato. I sought to turn out a moist and tender loaf of meat, and one that’s not dry and tough, but my first attempts were much too dense. I wasn’t happy about that, but my dog was thrilled.

After playing around with the eggs-to-breadcrumbs-to-milk ratios and being careful to use gentle hands when combining everything and pressing it into the loaf pan, the final batch was a winner and I get to pass it along to you.

It's best to use a meatloaf pan here which has an insert that lets the fat drip to the bottom, away from the meat. A regular loaf pan will still work, but you’ll want to pour off the fat in the pan before slicing.

Satisfy your Cracker Barrel cravings with more of my copycat recipes here.

The talented chefs at Benihana cook food on hibachi grills with flair and charisma, treating the preparation like a tiny stage show. They juggle salt and pepper shakers, trim food with lightning speed, and flip the shrimp and mushrooms perfectly onto serving plates or into their tall chef's hat.

One of the side dishes that everyone seems to love is the fried rice. At Benihana this dish is prepared by chefs with precooked rice on open hibachi grills, and is ordered a la cart to complement any Benihana entree, including Hibachi Steak and Chicken. I like when the rice is thrown onto the hot hibachi grill and seems to come alive as it sizzles and dances around like a bunch of little jumping beans. Okay, so I'm easily amused.

This Benihana Japanese fried rice recipe will go well with just about any Japanese entree and can be partially prepared ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator until the rest of the meal is close to done.

This delicious crispy chicken in a citrusy sweet-and-sour chicken is the most popular dish at the huge Chinese take-out chain. Panda Express cooks all of its food in woks. If you don't have one of those, you can use a heavy skillet or a large saute pan.

One of the most protected, discussed, and sought-after secret recipes in the food world is KFC's Original Recipe Fried Chicken. Long ago I published my first hack of the famous formula, but the recipe, which was based on research from "Big Secrets" author William Poundstone, includes only salt, pepper, MSG, and flour in the breading, and not the blend of eleven herbs and spices we have all heard about. The fried chicken made with my first recipe is good in a pinch, but it really needs several more ingredients to be a true clone. That is why, over twenty years later, I was happy to get another crack at the secret when we shot the pilot episode for my CMT TV series Top Secret Recipe. In the show, I visited KFC headquarters, talked to friends of Harlan Sanders who had seen the actual recipe, and even checked out the Corbin, Kentucky, kitchen where Harland Sanders first developed his chicken recipe. During that four-day shoot I was able to gather enough clues about the secret eleven herbs and spices to craft this new recipe—one that I believe is the closest match to the Colonel's secret fried chicken that anyone has ever revealed.

Menu Description: "Our award-winning Baby Back Ribs are slow-roasted, then basted with Jim Beam Bourbon BBQ Sauce and finished on our Mesquite grill."

When your crew bites into these baby backs they'll savor meat so tender and juicy that it slides right off the bone. The slow braising cooks the ribs to perfection, while the quick grilling adds the finishing char and smoky flavor. But the most important component to any decent rack of ribs is a sauce that's filled with flavor, and this version of Roadhouse Grill's award-wining sauce is good stuff. I ordered the ribs naked (without sauce) so that I could see if there was any detectable rub added before cooking and I didn't find anything other than salt and a lot of coarse black pepper. So that's the way I designed the recipe, and it works.

Now, how about a copycat Roadhouse Grill Roadhouse Rita to wash down those ribs.

El Pollo Loco, or "The Crazy Chicken," has been growing like mad since it crossed over the border into the United States from Mexico. Francisco Ochoa unknowingly started a food phenomenon internacional in 1975 when he took a family recipe for chicken marinade and opened a small roadside restaurante in Gusave, Mexico. He soon had 90 stores in 20 cities throughout Mexico. The first El Pollo Loco in the United States opened in Los Angeles in December 1980 and was an immediate success. It was only three years later that Ochoa got the attention of bigwigs at Dennys, Inc., who offered him $11.3 million for his U.S. operations. Ochoa took the deal, and El Pollo Loco grew from 17 to more than 200 outlets over the following decade.

Re-create the whole El Pollo Loco experience at home with my copycat recipes for avocado salsa, pinto beans, Spanish rice, and bbq black beans.

If you didn’t know this salad came from Chick-fil-A you could easily be fooled into thinking it was a much more expensive salad from a casual chain like T.G.I. Friday’s or Chili’s. The bed of greens is built with crisp romaine, green leaf, and red leaf lettuce, and without a speck of tasteless iceberg in sight. On top of that are ingredients you don’t associate with fast food, like grilled corn, black beans, roasted peppers, spicy chili lime pepitas, and crunchy tortilla chips. Everything works great together, and now I can show you how to make all of it for a spot-on home hack.

Chick-fil-A knows chicken, so of course the spicy chicken served on top of the salad is delicious. We can easily clone it by marinating chicken fillets in a special spicy brine for a few hours to infuse it with flavor and juiciness, then grilling it, chilling it, and slicing it thin.

The biggest star of the salad is the secret recipe that kitchen cloners have requested most: the creamy salsa dressing. To make your own version roast some peppers, mix those with the other ingredients in a blender until the dressing is smooth and creamy, and you’ll get a bright, spicy dressing that’s perfect for this salad, or any other home-crafted salads in your future.

Hungry for more Chick-Fil-A? Find my clones for their famous chicken sandwich, mac & cheese, and more here.

In the early 90's Boston Chicken was rockin' it. The home meal replacement chain's stock was soaring and the lines were filled with hungry customers waiting to sink their teeth into a serving of the chain's delicious rotisserie chicken. So successful was the chain with chicken, that the company quickly decided it was time to introduce other entree selections, the first of which was a delicious barbecue sauce-covered ground sirloin meatloaf. But offering the other entrees presented the company with a dilemma: what to do about the name. The bigwigs decided it was time to change the name to Boston Market, to reflect a wider menu. That meant replacing signs on hundreds of units and retooling the marketing campaigns. That name change, plus rapid expansion of the chain and growth of other similar home-style meal concepts sent the company into a tailspin. By 1988, Boston Market's goose was cooked, and the company filed for bankruptcy. Soon McDonald's stepped in to purchase the company, with the idea of closing many of the stores for good, and slapping Golden Arches on the rest. But that plan was scrapped when, after selling many of the under-performing Boston Markets, the chain began to fly once again. Within a year of the acquisition Boston Market was profitable, and those meals with the home-cooked taste are still being served at over 700 Boston Market restaurants across the country.

How about some of those famous Boston Market side-dishes to go with your copycat meatloaf recipe? I've cloned all the best ones here.

Menu Description: "Quickly-cooked steak with scallions and garlic."

Beef lovers go crazy over this one at the restaurant. Flank steak is cut into bite-sized chunks against the grain, then it's lightly dusted with potato starch (in our case we'll use cornstarch), flash-fried in oil, and doused with an amazing sweet soy garlic sauce. The beef comes out tender as can be, and the simple sauce sings to your taste buds. I designed this recipe to use a wok, but if you don't have one a saute pan will suffice (you may need to add more oil to the pan to cover the beef in the flash-frying step). P. F. Chang's secret sauce is what makes this dish so good, and it's versatile. If you don't dig beef, you can substitute with chicken. Or you can brush it on grilled salmon.

I've cloned a lot of the best dishes from P.F. Chang's. Click here to see if I coped your favorite.

Over a century ago, Detroit, Michigan became the Coney Island chili dog capital of the world, even though Coney Island is nowhere near there. Greek immigrants who entered the U.S. through Ellis Island adapted a recipe for the hot dogs they ate while visiting Coney Island, New York, on their way to the Midwest. When they settled in southern Michigan, many opened restaurants to sell their clones of the food they ate when they first got to America, turning New York-style Coney Dogs into a Midwest phenomenon.

Two of the most famous Coney Island restaurants in Detroit are Lafayette Coney Island and its next-door neighbor, American Coney Island. The two buildings were originally one building with a single restaurant inside, built by brothers Gus and Bill Keros in 1915. But somewhere along the way the brothers had a falling out and split the restaurant in half, right down the middle, and it stayed that way. Today, the two Coney Island restaurants are under different ownership, but they still remain next-door rivals.

I decided the best Coney dog to hack is from American Coney Island, not only because of the restaurant’s deep history, but also because I was able to order the chili dogs shipped to my house in a kit. That’s always good news, since shipped foods must list ingredients, and I get to see exactly what’s in the chili. Built the traditional way, a typical Detroit Coney Island chili dog features a natural-casing hot dog in a soft white bun, smothered in chili sauce, drizzled with mustard, and topped with a pile of diced sweet onion. The kit came with everything I needed, including the tub of chili with clearly-labeled ingredients that I was counting on.

With the help of that information, I was able to create a thick, flavorful chili sauce that you can use on your favorite hot dogs to make a delicious clone. Crushed soda crackers thicken the chili, and extra beef fat adds a smooth quality that mimics the famous 100-year-old recipe.

The chili must simmer for four hours to properly tenderize the meat, so plan your Coney dog cloning adventure accordingly.

And now if you're craving French fries, try my Mcdonald's Fries copycat recipe here.

As you can probably guess, KFC's Extra Crispy Tenders are chicken tenderloins coated with the same delicious breading as KFC’s Extra Crispy Chicken. These tenders come in servings of two, three, six, or twelve, with your choice of dipping sauces on the side including buffalo, barbecue, and the new Finger Lickin' Good Sauce.

To duplicate these chicken fingers at home we’ll resort to a similar prep technique to the one used for the Extra Crispy Chicken: the chicken is brined for 2 hours to give it more flavor and juiciness, then the tenders are double-breaded for an extra-crunchy coating.

An important secret revealed in this breading recipe is the use of a specific type of ground black pepper. For the best clone you want to use Tellicherry black pepper, which is premium black pepper ground from mature peppercorns that have had time to develop more flavor. The unique aftertaste of KFC chicken is attributed to this special spice, so it’s worth the time to track it down.

Tellicherry black pepper costs a little more than the younger, more common black pepper, but if you want a good clone of the famous crispy fried chicken, it’s an essential ingredient. Be sure to grind the pepper fine before adding it.

You've got a hankerin' for pancakes or biscuits, but the recipe calls for Bisquick, and you're plum out. Not to worry. Now you can make a clone of the popular baking mix at home with just four simple ingredients. Store-bought Bisquick includes shortening, salt, flour, and leavening, so that's exactly what we need to duplicate it perfectly at home. This recipe makes about 6 cups of the stuff, which, just like the real thing, you can keep sealed up in a container in your pantry until it's flapjack time. When that time comes, just add milk and eggs for pancakes or waffles, or only milk if it's biscuits you want. You'll find all those recipes below in the "Tidbits."

Menu Description: “Creamy marsala wine sauce with mushrooms over grilled chicken breasts, stuffed with Italian cheeses and sundried tomatoes. Served with garlic mashed potatoes.”

This recipe includes a marsala sauce that even marsala sauce haters will like. My wife is one of those haters, but when she tried this sauce, her eyes lit up and she begged for more. That’s great, now I won’t have to eat alone.

Not only is Olive Garden's delicious marsala sauce hacked here (and it’s easy to make), you’ll also get the copycat hack for the chain's awesome Italian cheese stuffing that goes between the two pan-cooked chicken fillets. Build it, sauce it, serve it. The presentation is awesome, and the flavor will soothe your soul.

Try this dish paired with my recent clone of Olive Garden’s Garlic Mashed Potatoes for the complete O.G. Stuffed Chicken Marsala experience.

KFC's Chicken Pot Pie is a classic. It's packed with lots of shredded white and dark meat chicken, potatoes, peas, and carrots all of it swimming in a delicious creamy gravy and topped with a tantalizing flakey crust. It seems more like homemade food than fast food. And now it can be made at home better than ever before with this improved hack of my original recipe. The crust now has a better flavor (more butter!), and the gravy tastes closer to the original with the addition of more spices.

You can make these in ramekins or small oven-safe baking dishes, or get some recyclable aluminum pot pie pans you can find in many supermarkets. Those pans are the perfect size for four single servings, and they make cleanup easy after the feast.

Find more of my KFC copycat recipes here.

Jerrico, Inc., the parent company for Long John Silver's Seafood Shoppes, got its start in 1929 as a six-stool hamburger stand called the White Tavern Shoppe. Jerrico was started by a man named Jerome Lederer, who watched Long John Silver's thirteen units dwindle in the shadow of World War II to just three units. Then, with determination, he began rebuilding. In 1946 Jerome launched a new restaurant called Jerry's and it was a booming success, with growth across the country. Then he took a chance on what would be his most successful venture in 1969, with the opening of the first Long John Silver's Fish 'n' Chips. The name was inspired by Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island. In 1991 there were 1,450 Long John Silver Seafood Shoppes in thirty-seven states, Canada, and Singapore, with annual sales of more than $781 million. That means the company holds about 65 percent of the $1.2 billion quick-service seafood business.

Since Panera Bread makes all its ingredients known, it's not hard to find out that there’s no chicken broth in the original recipe, yet every copycat recipe I located online calls for chicken broth, as well as other ingredients clearly not found in Panera's version. Unlike those other recipes, this hack uses the same or similar ingredients to those listed on the company’s website.

One of the ingredients in the soup, according to the posted list, is yeast extract. This tasty ingredient adds an MSG-like savoriness to Panera’s soup, and we can duplicate it by using nutritional yeast—often called "nooch"—now found in many stores, including Whole Foods. A little bit of nooch will provide the umami deliciousness that replaces chicken broth or bouillon.

Panera keeps its soup gluten-free by thickening it with a combination of rice flour and cornstarch, rather than wheat flour. I’ve included those ingredients as well so that your clone is similarly gluten-free. Use the steps below and in about an hour you’ll have 8 servings of a soup that is a culinary doppelganger to Panera Bread's all-time favorite soup, and at a mere fraction of the cost.

The 729-unit chain did not start its life as Qdoba. When the Mexican food chain was first founded by Robert Miller and Anthony Hauser in Denver, Colorado in 1995, it was called Zuma Mexican Grill, named after a friend’s cat. As it turned out, a restaurant in Boston had that same name and threatened to sue, so the partners changed the name to Z-Teca. It wasn’t long before two different restaurants threatened to sue for that name—Z’Tejas in Arizona and Azteca in Washington—and the partners were forced to change the name yet again. This time they called their restaurant Qdoba, a completely made-up name that was unlikely to be used by anyone else.

A signature item and consistent top seller is this marinated adobo chicken, offered as a main ingredient in most of the chain’s selections. Make this chicken by marinating thigh meat for a couple of days in the secret adobo sauce (a worker there told me they let it soak for up to 8 days), then grill and chop. Use the flavorful chicken in burritos, tacos, bowls, on nachos, and in tortilla soup.

I bet your craving some Qdoba Fiery Habanero Salsa right about now. Get my recipe here.

Menu Description: “Creamy potato soup topped with melted cheese, bacon, and green onions.”

It’s not called baked potato soup because the potatoes in it are baked. It’s called baked potato soup because it’s topped with shredded cheese, bacon, and green onion, and it tastes like a baked potato. Other hacky hacks for this recipe miss that point and add over an hour to the preparation process by preheating an oven and baking the potatoes, all while hungry stomachs are growling on the sidelines. My version skips that part by adding the raw potatoes directly into the pot with the other ingredients, where they cook in 20 minutes, and the soup is ready to eat in less time than other recipes take just to get the potatoes done.

Also, other clones add way too much flour to thicken the soup—¾ cup! Sure, flour is good at thickening, but it doesn’t add any flavor, so I found a better way. I ended up using just a little flour to make the roux, then later thickening the soup mostly with dehydrated potato flakes, which are usually used to make quick mashed potatoes. The flakes not only do a great job of thickening the soup, but they also add more delicious potato flavor to the pot.

Top your finished soup with shredded cheese, crumbled bacon, and green onion, and every spoonful will taste like a fully loaded baked potato.

Finish off your meal with a famous entrée from Outback like Alice Springs Chicken, or Toowoomba Steak.

Along with your meal at this huge national steakhouse chain, comes a freshly baked loaf of dark, sweet bread, served on its own cutting board with soft whipped butter. One distinctive feature of the bread is its color. How does the bread get so dark? Even though this recipe includes molasses and cocoa, these ingredients alone will not give the bread its dark chocolate brown color. Commercially produced breads that are this dark—such as pumpernickel or dark bran muffins–often contain caramel color, an ingredient used to darken foods. Since your local supermarket will not likely have this mostly commercial ingredient, we'll create the brown coloring from a mixture of three easy-to-find food colorings—red, yellow and blue. If you decide to leave the color out, just add an additional 1 tablespoon of warm water to the recipe. If you have a bread machine, you can use it for kneading the bread (you'll find the order in which to add the ingredients to your machine in "Tidbits"). Then, to finish the bread, divide and roll the dough in cornmeal, and bake.

Check out more of my copycat Outback Steakhouse recipes here.

This is a clone for the stuff you buy in 1-ounce packets to create, as the package says, "a fun-filled Mexican fiesta in minutes." Ah, so true. In fact, thanks to Lawry's, my last Mexican fiesta was filled with so much fun that I had to take a siesta. And I promise you just as much fun with this TSR clone. Maybe even a tad more. Just mix the ingredients together in a small bowl, then add it to 1 pound of browned ground beef along with some water and let it simmer. Before you know it you'll be up to your nostrils in good old-fashioned, taco-making fun.

Source: Even More Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

Menu Description: "Made from scratch in our kitchens using fresh Grade A Fancy Russet potatoes, fresh chopped onion, natural Colby cheese and spices. Baked fresh all day long."

In the late sixties Dan Evins was a Shell Oil "jobber" looking for a new way to market gasoline. He wanted to create a special place that would arouse curiosity, and would pull travelers off the highways. In 1969 he opened the first Cracker Barrel just off Interstate 40 in Lebanon, Tennessee, offering gas, country-style food, and a selection of antiques for sale. Today there are over 529 stores in 41 states, with each restaurant still designed as a country rest stop and gift store. In fact, those stores which carry an average of 4,500 different items apiece have made Cracker Barrel the largest retailer of American-made finished crafts in the United States.

Those who know Cracker Barrel love the restaurant for its delicious home-style breakfasts. This casserole, made with hash brown-sliced potatoes, Colby cheese, milk, beef broth, and spices is served with many of the classic breakfast dishes at the restaurant. The recipe here is designed for a skillet that is also safe to put in the oven (so no plastic handles). If you don't have one of those, you can easily transfer the casserole to a baking dish after it is done cooking on the stove.


20 Best Places for Barbecue in Oklahoma City

Back Door BBQ

Photo Credit: Back Door BBQ

Address: 315 NW 23rd Street, Oklahoma City, OK 73103
Website:
backdoorbarbecue.com

Owned by Chef Kathryn Mathis, Back Door BBQ was started in 2014. Before Kathryn opened this joint, she had lived in the Texas Hill country for about 15 years. During that period, she worked in fine dining BBQ joints and run a catering company in Austin.

Therefore, if you want to enjoy some of the best Texas Hill country-style BBQ in Oklahoma, this is the place to be! They serve traditional barbecue meats and amazing new twists on classic BBQ.

In addition to serving up BBQ staples, this joint smoke up more exotic meats such as duck and lamb. Also, they have some of the best spare ribs in the entire state.

If you’ve any upcoming event, you’ll be glad to know that Back Door BBQ offers catering services. So, give them a call for a memorable party filled with mouthwatering sides and smoked meats. They have various catering options, allowing you to choose the ideal package for your wedding, party, meeting, or picnic!

Earl’s Rib Palace

Photo Credit: Earl’s Rib Palace

Address: 6816 N Western Avenue, Oklahoma City, OK 73116
Website:
earlsribpalace.com

With 6 different locations across Oklahoma City, Earl’s Rib Palace is often ranked among the best places for BBQ joints in Oklahoma. The original location in the heart of Oklahoma was started in 1996. Since then, this joint has played a significant role in the Oklahoma barbecue scene.

They serve up hickory-smoked barbecue specialties as well as baked potatoes and burgers. You can either enjoy your meal inside or on their pet-friendly outdoor patio. Their menu also offers gluten-free items. Moreover, they have a kids menu that includes one side, ice cream float, and a beverage. Other items offered by the kids' menu are cheeseburger, hamburger, grilled cheese, sandwich, chicken strips, and kid’s rib dinner.

So, regardless of what you are craving for, Earl’s Rib Palace will satisfy your appetite! Just check out any of their locations for some mouthwatering BBQ in Oklahoma. If you’re not in the mood to go out, you can make your order online, and they’ll deliver!

For special events, this joint offers catering services for a group of more than 10 people. These packages include hot & mild BBQ sauce, napkins, plasticware, plates, buns or bread, and relish tray.

Swadley’s BBQ

Photo Credit: Swadley’s BBQ

Address: 8317 S Western Avenue, Oklahoma City, OK 73139
Website:
swadleys.com

Established more than 80 years ago, Swadley’s BBQ is a family-run restaurant with multiple locations across Oklahoma. Just one bite, and you’ll see why this restaurant has maintained to be in the business for that long! Over the years, this joint has won many local awards, thanks to its juicy, tasty BBQ!

This joint specializes in serving up Southern BBQ meals. The best thing about their smoked meats is that they’re prepared from fresh meats every day.

While their recipes have undergone slight changes over the years, they’re still committed to one thing: Quality! And this keeps guests coming back to this joint over and over again.

Besides serving up barbecue, Swadley’s also offers catering services to various events. Whether it is a wedding, corporate retreat, or birthday, they’ve got the ideal dishes to suit your occasion. They’re even ranked among the largest caterers in the state as they can serve up to twenty thousand people!

Thus, if you are looking for a crowd-pleasing lunch, family dinner, or a quick meal in Oklahoma, check out Swadley’s BBQ. You can also make your order online!

Bedlam BBQ

Address: 610 NE 50th Street, Oklahoma City, OK 73105
Website:
bedlambarbq.com

Located in Northeast Oklahoma City, Bedlam BBQ was first opened in 2003. And the joint has been serving up mouthwatering smoked meats to the surrounding areas since then.

But, what makes their barbecue so special? That would be the way they prepare their smoked meats that involve the old-tradition of dry-rub and curing applications. Being a family run and operated business, this joint prepares their family recipes according to the original standards passed across generations.

As for the name, Bedlam is associated with the local university rivalry between OSU and OU. Thus ensuring that any visitor heading to this joint for the first time experiences the rich local culture. That, plus the local flavors will make sure that you get a memorable dining experience at this BBQ joint!

Another interesting thing about this restaurant is that it has an incredible outdoor patio that features a stone fireplace. You can either enjoy your tasty smoked meats and sides there or in their old West-themed dining rooms. They also offer catering as well as online ordering services.

Leo’s BBQ

Address: 3631 N Kelly Avenue, Oklahoma City, OK 73111
Website:
leosbbqokc.com

Smoked bologna is a local favorite in Oklahoma City. And if you’re for the best barbecue in Oklahoma, just head to Leo’s BBQ. This joint has been serving up authentic BBQ to locals and visitors alike since 1976. Besides, they offer other hickory-smoked meats as well as home-style side dishes.

Before Charles Smith opened this restaurant, the spot was an old gas station. Leo’s BBQ later formed a partnership with Schwab Meat. And they have served up tasty smoked meats to hungry masses in Oklahoma since then.

This joint has also gathered nationwide recognition after appearing on the Diners, Drive-ins & Dives program in the Food Network. Once you walk into this joint, you’ll be welcomed by their friendly and committed staff, ready to serve you up the joint’s mouthwatering BBQ.

So, make sure you stop by this restaurant for dine-in and enjoy some of the best BBQ in Oklahoma. That will leave you craving to taste some of the other popular options on their menu. If you can’t make it to dine-in at this joint, they offer delivery, takeout as well as catering services.

Jo-Bawb’s BBQ

Address: 7921 Northside Drive, Oklahoma City, OK 73132
Website:
jo-bawbsbbq.com

Jo-Bawb’s BBQ was started by Lon & JoAnne Mitchell in 2007 as a completion barbecue team. They took classes from some of the best pitmasters in the country and perfected the art in BBQ competitions.

Since 2009, this BBQ joint has participated in more than 120 BBQ competitions in more than 14 states. Because of their perfectly smoked meats, they’ve won various awards in those competitions. Some of these awards include Reserve Grand Champion and Grand Champion awards.

Besides, Jo-Bawb’s was ranked among the 20 best BBQ teams of the KC BBQ Society. This was a very significant achievement considering than more than 2,000 teams took part in that competition.

Apart from completion, this joint opened another location in Wyoming. This location has gathered nationwide recognition and it was even featured on MSN among the best 50 BBQ joints in the country.

Jo-Bawb’s also partnered with Dusti Martin and Quinn. They’re currently running a food trailer that’s serving up smoked meats to Oklahoma and neighboring areas. You’ll also love that this joint is pet-friendly since it has outdoor tables. Moreover, they offer catering services to parties and events.

Texas Roadhouse

Photo Credit: Texas Roadhouse

Address: 6200 SW 3rd Street, Oklahoma City, OK 73128
Website:
texasroadhouse.com

Started by Kent Taylor, Texas Roadhouse is a chain of BBQ restaurants with more than 180 locations in 34 states. The first Texas Roadhouse was opened in Clarkesville, Indiana in 1993. Their Oklahoma location at 6200 SW 3RD Street is ranked among the best BBQ spots on OKC. Moreover, there are 2 more other Texas Roadhouse locations in Oklahoma as well.

The restaurant features neon signs, hand-painted murals, jukeboxes as well as a southwestern décor. Unlike most popular BBQ restaurants in OKC, Texas Roadhouse is not family-owned. Instead, Kent Taylor sold some of the company shares to the public. However, Taylor still owns 60% of shares. In addition to being the founder, he is also the chairman in control of the company’s operations.

Their menu offers chicken, steak, sides as well as made-from-scratch rolls. Whenever you are in Oklahoma City feel free to check this joint for some exceptional BBQ dining experience and service. But if you can’t make it to the restaurant, you can easily order your favorite smoked meats online!

Bill Kamp’s Meat Market

Photo Credit: Bill Kamp’s Meat Market

Address: 7310 N Western Avenue, Oklahoma City, OK 73116
Website:
billkampsmeatmarket.com

Since its establishment in 1910, Bill Kamp’s Meat Market has been serving up the highest quality smoked meals to Oklahomans. One of the best food items is the baby back ribs which sell put pretty fast. But that’s not the only good smoked meats they offer.

This joint is a family-owned and run business. It’s currently being run by the 3rd generation of Kamp’s family. The original location of the joint was at 25th N Classen. They later moved to the current location at 7310 N Western Avenue.

Even though the location changed, the joint still serves some of the finest smoked meats in Oklahoma City. You can also enjoy their various homemade specialty dishes like ham & cheese spreads, soups, deli salads, and more. One unique thing about this joint is that you’ll not find any of these specialty dishes at any other spot. This is because they sell various products that are specifically made in Oklahoma.

So, if you want a good traditional butcher in Oklahoma City, be sure to check out Bill Kamp’s Meat Market.

George’s Happy Hog BBQ

Photo Credit: George’s Happy Hog BBQ

Address: 712 Culbertson Drive, Oklahoma City, OK 73105

Owned by Dee Bowlin and George Thompson, George’s Happy Hog BBQ was started in 2004. Since then, the joint has been serving up various juicy meats smoked over pecan wood. It’s located between NE 16 & NE 17, 2 blocks east of Lincoln.

The restaurant started as a small store that offered carry-out services only at Martin Luther King and NE 10. But in April 2004, the joint moved to its current location. This BBQ joint has won various awards including the Juneteenth Cookoff Award in 2005.

Regarding the décor, this casual dining joint features yellow, red & green plaid tablecloths. While the walls are decorated with pictures of cows, chicken, and pigs.

Another great thing about this joint is that their meals are very affordable. Not to mention that they accept checks, cash as well as major credit cards. They also serve various options that are ideal for a group or family including 2- and 3-meat combo.

Blu’s BBQ & Burgers

Photo Credit: Blu’s BBQ & Burgers

Address: 612 N Robinson Avenue, Oklahoma City, OK 73102
Website:
blusbbq.publishpath.com

If you’re looking for the best BBQ in Oklahoma that offers an ideal family dining experience in Oklahoma, Blu’s BBQ is the place to be. This joint has a family-friendly atmosphere that keeps customers coming back for more.

Blu’s BBQ was first opened in 2012 and it’s located in Downtown Oklahoma City, just across the OKC Bombing Memorial. This family-owned and run BBQ joint specializes in offering fast, high-quality services. Not to mention their mouthwatering smoked meats as well as charbroiled burgers made with quality beef.

Once you get to this joint, be ready to have some fun times and great food. Whether it’s a special occasion, business lunch, date night out, or even a pre-game meal, you’ll love this BBQ spot. Their atmosphere is just perfect for any occasion!

Even better, their smoked meats are prepared daily, while their other food items are prepared fresh to order. There is not you’ll hate this state once you taste the smoked meats served at Blu’s BBQ & Burgers! Moreover, if you an upcoming event, this joint will be glad to offer you their catering services.

Jack’s BBQ

Address: 4418 NW 39th Street, Oklahoma City, OK 73112
Website:
jacksbbqok.com

Jack’s BBQ was first opened in 1963, and they’ve been using the same recipe to cook their BBQ since then. This legendary BBQ joint is located on Route 66 and it has some of the best BBQ in OKC.

It’s even considered to serve up the ‘top three BBQ Ribs in Oklahoma City”. Not to mention that was even featured on the ‘Is This a Great State or What’ program. So, if you want some seriously tasty home-cooked barbecue in OKC, check out Jack’s BBQ!

This family-run and owned business smoke all their meats on-premises. Moreover, they’ve various home-made American cuisine including smoked turkey and BBQ chicken. These home-made BBQ dishes are very affordable. Even better, their daily specials cost less than $7.

Furthermore, if you’re planning an event in Oklahoma City, Jack’s BBQ will cater for you. They offer catering services to groups of 25 to 2,000 people. This joint is indeed the place to go to for some legendary barbecue!

Billy Sims BBQ

Photo Credit: Billy Sims BBQ

Address: 2224 NW 23rd Street, Oklahoma City, OK 73107
Website:
billysimsbbq.com

Owned by Billy Sims and Jeff Jackson, this BBQ joint was established in 2004. The original location was in Tulsa, Ok, in the Farm shipping center. Since then the restaurant has expanded and now has multiple locations including in Oklahoma City.

Billy is an accomplished athlete having various awards including winning the Heisman Trophy in 1978. Jackson, on the other hand, was working in sports marketing before he met Billy in 1999. And that’s when they launched the Billy Sims Barbecue brand.

Today, the Billy Sims franchise runs more than twenty locations in Oklahoma. There are more locations in other states like Missouri, and Michigan among others. In 2014, Billy Sims BBQ was ranked among the top restaurants in the country by the USA Today publication.

This joint is very family-friendly and it even has a kids' Items served on the kids menu include grilled cheese, mac n’ cheese, slide, and ribs. Thus, if you’ve kids, don’t leave them behind when you’re heading to Billy Sims BBQ for some smoked meats.

Since its establishment, Billy Sims BBQ has become a reputable joint for catering services. Hire them if you’ve got an upcoming birthday party, wedding, corporate luncheon, or even reunions. They’ll give you an ideal package for your occasion and budget. These catering packages start at fifteen people. However, they also have other options to suits a group of fewer than 15 people.


REVIEW: Johnny Rebs' Southern Roadhouse, Orange

Orange County is weird. It's got this reputation, thanks to television, as this completely suburban white-bread area, full of surfer dudes, platinum-blonde trophy wives and the idle rich. Chow-wise, a lot of Angelenos assume that as soon as you cross over onto the nice new freeways you've entered some kind of cosmic do-not-chow zone, populated only by Olive Gardens and Chili's and Johnny Carino's.

There's at least some truth to that -- there are definitely parts of OC (not "the OC", please) that fit that bill, yet some of the finest ethnic food in the greater LA area is found "beyond the Orange Curtain", and there are certain things that are rare or unique to our area. Chicago deep-dish pizza? The first five answers on any post contain the words "Tony's" and "Placentia". German food? What are there, four German restaurants left in the area, two of which are in Anaheim?

Well, one of the rarer items is actual good Southern food. I'm not talking just about barbecue, but about Southern food in general, the kind of food your mama cooked if you were lucky enough to live in, say, Georgia. Catfish and okra and green tomatoes and real fried chicken, washed down not with alcohol but with quarts of good, tooth-achingly sweet tea.

Johnny Rebs' is kind of a licorice-all-sorts of Southern cuisine. They do have barbecue, yes -- and it's quite tasty, easily as good as any of the other barbecue places in Orange County -- but they also have fried catfish, and fried okra, green tomatoes and hush puppies, Brunswick stew and sometimes Kentucky burgoo (only as a special). The drinks come in Mason jars (despite the fact that in half the barbecue shacks I've been in in the South, they don't anymore), the service is friendly, and the portions are enormous, even at lunch.

They don't try to be what they're not -- the waitstaff don't try to affect Southern accents they didn't grow up with (which always makes me chuckle, because most Southern accents don't sound remotely like actors trying to affect Southern accents), there's not country music playing on the jukebox, and there's a minimum of cutesy "haut roadhouse" décor. The menu is only slightly self-consciously Southern ("fixins" rather than "sides"), and though you toss your peanut shells on the floor, they're swept up regularly.

The food is very good -- barbecue comes with either "smokehouse" BBQ sauce, which is sweet with a bit more heat than you might expect, or with "North Carolina" BBQ sauce, which is watery and vinegary (but no mustard -- apparently it's not East Carolina). Things that are fried are coated in the right kind of cornmeal. The sides are well-done and you can get a refill if you haven't had enough in the cup-and-a-half-sized bowls they give you. Coleslaw is mayonnaisey and crisp, mac and cheese is tasty with some extra cheese melted on top (but "too floury" according to Mrs Ubergeek -- I don't agree), and collard greens are well-cooked with definite meat bits in there to let you know they cooked it right. There's pepper sauce on the table [for those of you who don't know Southern cooking, pepper sauce isn't Texas Pete's or red Tabasco sauce, it's little yellow Tabasco peppers and salt swimming in white vinegar] and if you ask nicely they'll bring you some of the pot likker for your cornbread. Biscuits are large and fluffy -- they must import White Rose flour, which I've never been able to find here for under $8 a bag and there's honey on the table for them.

I suggest going for lunch. The portions are larger at dinner but even for a big guy like me, lunch portions are fine, especially since you can have a second helping of your side dishes for free if you want. The price difference is significant -- today's bill, which was $24 and tip for a two-item BBQ combo, a [huge] beef sandwich and tea, would have been $31 at dinner. Given the price of some of the other barbecue places I've been to recently, $10.75 for a huge plate of food sounds reasonable (I had the two-item combo, natch). They have country-style breakfast until 11 AM (until 1 PM on Sunday) and, unusually for places in California, will actually make dippy eggs for you. [Translation for Yankees: eggs over easy, where you dip your toast or biscuit in the yolk until it's gone, then eat the whites.]

There are four locations, only one of which is in OC. The Long Beach location is under remodel after a deep-fryer fire, but the Bellflower, Orange and Victorville locations are open. (Yes, mods, I know that Victorville goes on the California board, but I'm reviewing the Orange location here.)

It's a nice place to go, it's pretty authentically Southern without being precious about it, it's cheap as Southern places in LA go, and the food is very, very good.

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Johnny Rebs' Southern Roadhouse
16639 Bellflower Blvd, Bellflower, CA 90706

Johnny Rebs' Southern Roadhouse
4663 Long Beach Blvd, Long Beach, CA 90805

Johnny Rebs' Southern Roadhouse
2940 E Chapman Ave, Orange, CA 92869


Now you can share the flavors of Texas Roadhouse with friends and family. You can purchase their famous steak sauce & seasoning or their rib seasoning. Be the star of the cookout, and don’t tell anyone where you got the rib seasoning.

Kent Taylor’s dream was to open a different type of restaurant. A place where guests could go and have a wonderful meal and a good time. No doubt, the food had to be top quality as well. On February 17, 1993, Kent did just that and by the late 1990s, the restaurant expanded rapidly. Today, Texas Roadhouse is the place to go for good food and fun. From buckets of free peanuts, jukeboxes and line dancing servers, there is never a dull moment at the Texas Roadhouse.

Texas Roadhouse is a publicly-traded company headquartered in Louisville, KY and boasts over 460 locations in the U.S. and parts of the world. Keeping up to date on all things Texas Roadhouse is easy. You can follow or connect with Texas Roadhouse through various social media platforms.

Interested in reading more about Texas Roadhouse? Visit their official website.


Recipes

Here is an assortment of recipes for popular foods from famous restaurants of the past. Please note that I have not tested them. Temperatures are Fahrenheit. At times the recipes can be maddeningly vague, incomplete, or just plain strange. Please let me know of other restaurant recipes or — for any daring cooks and bakers — how you fare with these.

Maxim’s (Chicago) Poires Helene

With the woodwork, lamps, china, and all the other furnishings from France needed to recreate Paris’s “La Belle Epoque” in Chicago, came eight chefs trained by Maxim’s in Paris to produce elegant dishes such as Entrecotes Bercy and Flan de Carottes. One of their fanciest deserts was Poires Helene, stuffed pears covered in chocolate. This recipe was printed in the Milwaukee Sentinel in 1963. Do you know how to powder almonds?
6 large ripe pears
1/4 cup butter
½ cup powdered almonds
1 cup granulated sugar
4 oz cooking chocolate
1 pint vanilla ice cream
drop of vanilla
1 tsp lemon juice
6 leaves of marzipan
Peel and core pears. Poach them for about 10 minutes in one-half cup sugar and one cup water with the lemon juice and a drop of vanilla until they are tender but still firm. Let cool in the syrup. Make chocolate sauce by melting the chocolate in four cups of water and two tablespoons of sugar. Bring to a boil and remove from fire. Mix the butter with the powered almonds and one-quarter cup of sugar to make a butter cream. Fill the pears with this mixture. Line a crystal bowl with the ice cream, standing the pears upright on the ice cream. Pour the chocolate sauce over it and top each pear with a marzipan leaf.

Maxwell Plum’s Chili con Carne

James Beard was fond of Maxwell’s Plum. He thought the restaurant was unique in being enormous yet having “really first-class food and service.” Beard denied being a food snob and said he liked the Plum’s chili just as much as most of their fancy dishes. Here is the recipe he published in his syndicated column in 1973. It starts with dried beans – I’d be strongly tempted to substitute canned. Serves 10 to 12.
2 lb dried red kidney beans
4 large onions
2 cloves
2 green peppers
3 tbsp butter
3 tbsp oil
4 or 5 cloves garlic
5 lb ground beef
1 lb ground pork
4 tbsp chili power
35-oz can Italian plum tomatoes
2 7-oz cans tomato paste
1 tbsp salt
1½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp oregano
2 tsp ground cumin
2 bay leaves
½ tsp tabasco
½ cup chopped parsley
3 to 4 cups beef stock
Cover red kidney beans with boiling water and soak overnight. The next day cook beans in the liquid with 1 large onion stuck with cloves. Drain, reserving liquid. Saute remaining onions, chopped, and green peppers, seeded and chopped, in butter and oil until just golden. Add garlic cloves and cook 2 minutes, then add ground beef and pork and cook until browned, breaking up meat with wooden spoon. Stir in chili power and cook 5 minutes. Add plum tomatoes, tomato paste, salt and pepper, oregano, cumin, bay leaves, tabasco, parsley, and enough beef stock to just cover the meat. Simmer for 2½ hours, taste and correct seasoning, then mix in the beans and bring to a boil. If the chili is too thick, add a little of the bean liquid.

Brown Hotel’s Hot Brown Sandwich

It is said that the open-face sandwich was invented by a chef at the Louisville hotel in the 1920s, though I’ve searched and can find no mention of it anywhere until 1965. Usually the recipe appeared in newspapers during Derby week or as an solution to turkey leftovers. I used to go with friends to a St. Louis hotel once a year when we all ordered the dish, which I loved. The recipe below, coming from a latter-day chef at Brown Hotel, is said to be the original. There are many variations, some with cheddar cheese, some with tomato, mushrooms, ham, and so on. In fact I saw one using canned mushroom soup. Don’t do that. Makes four servings.
6 tbsp butter
6 tbsp flour
3 cups milk
½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 egg, beaten
S & P to taste
½ cup unsweetened whipped cream
8 slices crustless white toast
1 lb sliced turkey breast
grated parmesan for topping
8 crisp bacon slices
Fry bacon and drain, and toast bread set aside. Over medium heat, melt butter gradually add flour, stirring constantly until smooth. Gradually stir in milk until sauce comes to a gentle boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, add parmesan cheese and stir until melted. In a small bowl beat egg gradually add one cup of hot sauce, 1/3 cup at a time, stirring constantly. Gradually add egg mixture to remaining sauce, stirring until well blended. Add S & P and fold in whipped cream. On each fireproof dish place two slices toast, top with turkey, and pour sauce over generously. Place dishes under broiler until sauce bubbles and begins to brown. Place two slices of bacon over each serving.

Longchamps’ Petite Marmite, Henry IV

In the 1954 Longchamps Cookbook by Max Winkler, president of the chain since 1948 but an executive since 1926, says that this dish was on the menu every day. He stresses the importance of using quality ingredients and making soup stocks from scratch. Undoubtedly many medium-priced restaurants would take shortcuts if they made this dish today.
2 carrots, diced
2 white turnips, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
2 leeks, diced
½ head green cabbage, cut into small cubes
1 cup shelled green peas
2 quarts clear consommé (Longchamps made theirs from chicken or beef stock, lean beef, chicken bones, onions, celery, leeks, carrot, tomatoes, garlic, egg whites, and seasonings)
½ lb lean beef, cubed
1/4 lb cooked white meat of chicken, cubed
2 bunches chives, chopped
Marrow from beef bone
Dash Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper
Parmesan cheese, grated
Parboil carrots, turnips, celery, leeks, cabbage, and peas for 5 minutes. Rinse in cold water. Add clear consommé, beef, and chicken. Simmer for 1½ hours. Add chives, marrow, and Worcestershire. Season to taste. Serve boiling hot, with Parmesan cheese. Makes 6 cups.

Wolfie’s Cheesecake

In 1959 the head chef of Wolfie’s shared the restaurants’ cheesecake recipe with the public. It was especially popular with late-night guests – both Wolfie’s on Collins Avenue in Miami Beach were open all night. Wolfie’s also supplied whole cheesecakes (3 inches high) from its bakery in plain, pineapple, cherry, strawberry, and chocolate varieties. You may find this recipe disconcertingly vague at the end.
1½ lb cream cheese
5 oz sugar (just under 3/4 cup)
1 oz cornstarch (= 3 tbsp plus ½ tsp)
3 eggs
Work cream cheese with fork until soft. Add sugar and cornstarch and blend until smooth. Add eggs one at a time. Pour into round baking pan set in a large pan of water. Bake in pre-heated oven at 450° until brown on top. Then turn down oven to 350°. Test with fork for doneness.

Marshall Field’s Potato Flour Muffins

During the First World War, caterers were strongly urged to reduce the use of wheat in their recipes. In Chicago, the Marshall Field department store began serving muffins made from potato flour in its restaurants. The wheatless muffins, rather than being seen as a hardship, became a much-loved staple still on the menu in the 1940s, maybe longer.
5 egg whites
2½ tsp sugar
½ tsp salt
2½ tbsp ice water
3 egg yolks, slightly beaten
1 cup potato flour
2 tsp baking powder
Beat sugar and salt into egg whites until stiff but not dry. Gradually add ice water. Add egg yolks. Sift flour and baking powder and add to mixture. Mix thoroughly and place in greased muffin tins. Bake in 400° oven for 20 minutes. Makes 8 muffins.

Miss Hulling’s Sour Cream Noodle Bake

This was a Monday special at the Miss Hulling’s Cafeterias in St. Louis. The recipe was adapted for home use by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. It doesn’t sound that good to me, but I’ve heard otherwise from a reader who used to patronize Miss Hulling’s.

8 oz package egg noodles
1 lb lean ground beef
1 tbsp butter
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp garlic salt
8 oz can tomato sauce
1 cup cream-style cottage cheese
1 cup dairy sour cream
1 cup chopped green onions
1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
Cook noodles, rinse, and drain. Brown beef in butter and drain grease. Add salt, pepper, garlic salt, and tomato sauce. Simmer for 5 minutes. Combine cottage cheese, sour cream, chopped green onions, and cooked noodles. In a greased 2-quart casserole dish, alternate layers of noodle mixture and meat mixture, ending with meat. Top with shredded cheese and bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until cheese is browned. Makes 8 servings.

Miss Hulling’s German Chocolate Cake with Coconut Pecan Frosting

The following Miss Hulling’s recipe is for German Chocolate Cake with Coconut Pecan Frosting. It was included in the 1969 cookbook Come Home to Miss Hulling’s.
Cake
4 oz. sweet cooking chocolate
½ cup boiling water
1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
4 eggs, separated
1 tsp vanilla
2½ cups cake flour
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk
Frosting
½ cup evaporated milk
1 cup sugar
3 egg yolks
1 cup butter
1 cup shredded or flake coconut
1 cup chopped pecans
1 tsp vanilla
Melt chocolate in boiling water. Cool. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating after each addition. Add vanilla and chocolate mixture and mix until blended. Sift flour, soda and salt. Add alternately with the buttermilk, mixing after each addition until batter is smooth. Fold in stiffly beaten egg whites. Pour into three 9-inch round, greased and floured pans. Bake at 350° for 35 to 40 minutes, or until done. Cool on a wire rack. For frosting, blend milk, sugar, egg yolks and butter in a saucepan and cook over low heat, starring constantly until mixture thickens, about ten minutes. Remove from heat, add coconut, pecans, and vanilla, and beat until cool and of spreading consistency. This amount will cover tops of three 9-inch layers. Do not frost sides of cake.

London Chop House Roqueburger

Chef Pancho gave this recipe to Poppy Cannon in 1963 and she included it in her column The Fast Gourmet. According to Poppy these cheeseburgers were the “topic of much conversation, comment and curiosity” and were among the favorite menu items at both the Chop House and the Caucus Club. Make sure your cardiologist is on standby.
2½ lb ground beef (the Chop House ground their own prime aged beef trimmings)
2 eggs
2 tbsp finely chopped onion
1 tbsp finely chopped parsley
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 lb Roquefort or blue cheese
4 tbsp butter
1 tbsp cognac
Combine ground beef, eggs, onion, parsley, salt and pepper and form into 12 patties, each ½ inch thick. For the filling, blend the cheese, butter, and cognac until smooth and form into 6 balls. Place each ball between 2 patties, pressing edges together firmly. Broil 3 to 5 minutes on each side or until the desired doneness is reached. Makes 6 burgers.

Salmon Mousse from Alice’s Restaurant

This recipe was used at the second Alice’s Restaurant on Route 183 in Stockbridge. Hard to believe that this was a take-out item. Fat content and canned salmon aside, let’s all bow our heads to those 1970s hippie cooks!
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
3 tbsp chopped raw onion
1 envelope gelatin
½ cup of boiling water
Put all of the above into a blender and mix on high speed for one minute, adding:
½ cup mayonnaise
½ tbsp paprika
1 tbsp chopped dill seed
1 lb can salmon, drained
Dash Tabasco
Blend on high speed for one minute, adding 1 cup of heavy cream. Blend again for a few seconds. Refrigerate 3 or 4 hours. Put in mold or use as dip. Makes one quart.

The Automat’s Creamed Spinach

Despite its hard surfaces and seemingly dehumanized method of delivering food, the Automat was regarded by its patrons as a comforting place to enjoy homelike food. Included in the wonderfully illustrated book The Automat, by Lorraine B. Diehl and Marianne Hardart, are recipes for familiar favorites such as baked beans, chicken potpie, and mashed potatoes.
1 lb spinach, washed and drained but not dried
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1½ tbsp flour
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp white pepper
Add washed spinach to large pan over medium heat and cook covered about 5 minutes until thoroughly wilted. Remove from heat, cool, and chop. Set aside. Meanwhile, melt butter in medium saucepan over low heat add flour gradually, whisking continuously and cook 1 to 2 minutes until smooth mixture forms. Continue to whisk while adding milk and cook 3 to 5 minutes until thickened. Add cooked spinach and salt and pepper, blending well. Serves 4.

Filene’s Thousand Island Dressing

In the early 1920s Filene’s department store in Boston issued a 38-page booklet called “A Few Favorite Dishes from The Filene Restaurant.” This salad dressing was included, as were chop suey, chicken a la king, and maple layer pie. Be prepared to mince.
1 tbsp minced onion
1 tbsp minced dill pickle
1 tbsp minced beet
1 hardboiled egg, minced
Sprinkle of minced chives
1 cup mayonnaise
2 tbsp chili sauce 1½ tsp Worcestershire sauce

Schrafft’s Hot Butterscotch Sauce

Being a candy store as well as a restaurant, Schrafft’s made its own ice cream sauces. This recipe is one of 45 included in When Everybody Ate at Schrafft’s, by Joan Kanel Slomanson.
1 stick butter
1 cup brown sugar
½ cup light corn syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup heavy cream
Combine butter, sugar, and corn syrup in medium saucepan. Cook, stirring, just until the mixture gets thick and smooth. Remove from heat, stir in heavy cream and vanilla, and serve over ice cream. (I’d guess this makes a little more than a cup.)

Tarello’s Spaghetti a la Rustica

A simple 1950s recipe from Philadelphia’s Tarello’s, once located at 1623 Chestnut, illustrated by a charming painting by Jerome Kaplan.

Crème Vichyssoise à la Maramor

At The Maramor in Columbus OH Mary McGuckin perfected a vichyssoise without its characteristic ingredients, potatoes and leeks. And yet fans said it was better than the Waldorf’s.
5½ cups carrots, thinly sliced
4 cups chicken broth
3 tbsp raw rice
1 pint whole milk
1 pint light cream
1 tsp onion juice
3/8 tsp mace
2 bay leaves
3 drops tabasco
1/4 tsp Worcestershire
Salt to taste
1½ tsp minced chives, as garnish
Place carrots in a stew pan with chicken broth and rice cook at slow boil 25 to 30 minutes, stirring now and then until done. Cool, press through coarse sieve to make 1 quart of puree, adding water if necessary. Set aside to cool. Combine milk, cream, seasonings and heat to just under boiling. Cool. Remove bay leaves combine with carrot-chicken base. Pour into an earthen crock or large bowl chill in the refrigerator. Serve in chilled cups, topping each with sprinkling of chives. Serves 6.

The Trident’s Cappuccino Sausalito

What better way was there to finish off one of the Trident’s shredded steak omelettes with brown rice on the side than with a cappuccino? To bring back memories, while gazing at San Francisco Bay try sipping this and imagining you are listening to the Kingston Trio live. Take a taxi back home.
1 cup brewed espresso or extra-strong coffee
1 qt half & half
1 tbsp vanilla
4 tbsp honey
1 tbsp cocoa
6 oz brandy
4 oz rum
5 oz Kahlua or dark Creme de Cocao
½ oz Galliano
Whipped cream and chocolate shavings
Combine espresso, half & half, vanilla, honey, and cocoa. Heat until almost boiling. Set aside and keep warm. Mix together the brandy, rum, Kahlua and Galliano. In a 6½ oz glass pour 4 oz cappuccino mixture and 1 oz liquor mixture. Top with whipped cream and sprinkle with chocolate shavings. Makes about 11 servings.

Pig’n Whistle Cheese Cake

Pig’n Whistle was a chain of California candy store restaurants which began in San Francisco in 1910. Like coffee shops, Pig’n Whistles were open from early in the morning until midnight. In the 1930s, the decade this recipe dates from, the chain did all its own baking.
1 lb dry, fine cottage cheese
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
½ tsp vanilla
Pinch salt
2 lemons, grated and juiced
½ pt whipping cream
6 egg yolks
6 egg whites
Zweiback or plain cookies, and butter for crust
Mix cheese, flour and salt thoroughly, add grated lemon and juice and half the sugar. Add egg yolks gradually and finally the vanilla. Beat the cream stiff and fold into mixture. Then whip the six whites solid. First add the remainder of the sugar and then fold the whites into the rest of the batter. For crust, grate zweibach or cookies, dampen with melted butter and add a little cinnamon line heavily buttered mold with mixture. Fill mold nearly to top and sprinkle with zweiback crumbs which have been flavored with cinnamon. Bake in 350° oven for 30 minutes.

L. S. Ayres’ Chicken Velvet Soup

This well-loved soup was featured in the Indianapolis department store’s tea room. The recipe came from the 1975 Better Homes and Gardens “Recipes from Famous Places.”
6 tbsp butter
6 tbsp all-purpose flour
½ cup milk
½ cup light cream
3 cups chicken broth
1 cup finely chopped cooked chicken
Dash pepper
Melt butter in saucepan. Blend in flour, then stir in milk, light cream, and chicken broth. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture thickens and comes to a boil. Reduce heat. Stir in finely chopped chicken and dash of pepper. Return soup to boiling and serve immediately. Makes about 5 cups.

Miss Dutton’s Baked Swordfish with Herb Butter

In 1952, on the 40th anniversary of her popular Green Room Restaurant and Coffee Shop in Providence RI, Flora Dutton issued a leaflet with 10 recipes often requested by her guests.
3/4 lb swordfish steak, 3 inches thick
½ tsp mustard
For sauce, combine:
½ cup finely chopped parsley
1 tbsp chopped dill or chives
2 tbsp lemon juice
½ cup melted butter
Rub mustard on top and bottom of steak salt and pepper. Brown in bacon fat or butter and then bake in frying pan or casserole at 400° for about 9 minutes, basting frequently with butter or drippings. Serve with sauce.

Trader Vic’s “Scorpion”

Around 1961 when a Vic’s opened in Washington’s Statler Hotel, this was considered quite an exotic drink. Serves 12.
1½ bottles Puerto Rican rum
2 oz gin
2 oz brandy
16 oz lemon juice
8 oz orange juice
8 oz orgeat (almond flavoring)
2 sprigs mint
½ bottle white wine
Mix thoroughly, pour over cracked ice and let stand 2 hours, adding more ice. Serve in brandy snifter or bowl with gardenias floating in it. Give your guests extra-long straws. (Ok, I admit it, the vessel pictured here is from The Kahiki.)

Ruby Chow’s Melon Soup

Ruby Chow’s Chinese Dinner Club was located on Broadway and Jefferson Streets in Seattle in the 1940s. I don’t know much about the restaurant’s history but was intrigued by this recipe.
1 lb Chinese melon, cut into bite size pieces
1 qt chicken stock
1/4 lb raw pork, diced
3 water chestnuts, peeled
1 egg
Bring stock to rapid boil in 2-quart saucepan. Add pork and sliced water chestnuts, cooking until pork is done. Add salt and melon. Boil 10 minutes, uncovered. Break egg into soup. Do not stir, leaving egg whole. Serve immediately.

Don the Beachcomber’s Cantonese Spareribs

This recipe is from the Hollywood Beachcomber at 1727 North McCadden Place ca. 1950. Better invite the whole clan because it sounds like it makes a lot.
2 sides pork spareribs
2 cups soy sauce
1 cup sugar
2 tbsp salt
2 tbsp catsup
Trim ribs and marinate for an hour in mixture of soy sauce, sugar, salt, and catsup. Roast in 400° oven for about 30 minutes. Baste at least 3 times. Roasting time will vary depending on how thick the ribs are. Serve with barbecue sauce.

Brown Derby’s Hamburger de Luxe

A recipe from Derby owner Bob Cobb at the 1628 North Vine Street location in Hollywood ca. 1950.
2 lbs ground sirloin
1 raw egg
2 cups chicken broth
½ tsp English mustard
1 tbsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp chicken fat
de Luxe Sauce:
2 cups brown sauce (canned or from beef roast)
1 tbsp English mustard
2 tsp Sauce Diable or A-1
1 tbsp Worcestershire
½ cup catsup
2 pats butter
Chopped parsley
Mix meat, egg, and broth, then add the other ingredients. Use one full coffee cup of the mixture for each burger. Boil sauce ingredients together, adding parsley. Pour sauce over hamburgers.

Higbee Muffins

Located on the 10th floor of Higbee’s department store in Cleveland, the Silver Grille hosted daily fashion shows and won accolades from Clevelanders and guidebook writer Duncan Hines. This recipe comes from The Higbee Company and the Silver Grille (Cleveland Landmark Press, 2001), which is out of print. However, Clevelanders may also be interested in another book published by the Landmark Press, Euclid Avenue: Cleveland’s Sophisticated Lady, 1920-1970, which contains 22 recipes from Halle’s and Stouffer’s.
3/4 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
3 egg yolks
1 tsp salt
4 cups flour
2 tbsp baking powder
2 cups milk
3 egg whites, beaten
Cream shortening add sugar and egg yolks, and cream well. Combine flour, salt, and baking powder, and add to mixture, alternating mixture with milk, only to moisten the batter. Gently fold in beaten eggs whites. Divide the batter into well-greased muffin tins and bake in 400° oven for 20 minutes. Makes 24 muffins.

Patricia Murphy’s Popovers

There were several Patricia Murphy locations: one at 60th Street, a huge place in Westchester, and another in Fort Lauderdale. In her 1961 autobiography Glow of Candlelight, Murphy gives the recipe for her famous popovers.
1/3 tsp butter
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup sifted flour
1 cup milk
2 eggs
1 tbsp butter, melted
Put 1/3 tsp butter in each muffin pan or custard cup and heat in oven for 5 minutes while mixing batter. Sift flour and salt into bowl. Beat eggs with rotary beater, add milk and butter, beating only enough to make a smooth batter. Fill hot muffin pans or custard cups one-third full and bake in 450° oven for 30 minutes, then at 350° for 15 minutes or until firm, brown, and popped. Keep oven door closed while baking. Makes 6 large popovers or 9 small ones.

The Kahiki’s Beef Ka Tiki

The Kahiki opened in 1960 in Columbus, Ohio, and was an immediate success. This recipe was published in a professional restaurant journal in 1963. Personally, I wouldn’t be too enthusiastic about the idea of boiling beef – or the catsup – or the sugar – or the cornstarch …

1½ lb lean beef, cut crossgrain and sliced
1½ lb chopped tomatoes
1 lb precooked green pepper, chopped
1 stalk of celery, chopped
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 cup tomato catsup
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
½ tsp seasoning powder
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp cornstarch, dissolved in ½ cup water
Saute onion, garlic, meat in skillet. Add green pepper, tomato, celery, cornstarch mixture, catsup, soy sauce, salt, sugar, and seasoning. Bring to boil. Simmer until the water has been absorbed and the mixture thickened. Makes 4 servings.