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Because seriously, who says cheese and seafood don’t mix?
Virtually every country you can name has at least one Subway. In fact, there are currently 42,859 Subway restaurants in 108 countries around the world, and boy, do these Subways offer some truly fascinating sandwich options.
But you won’t find the typical Footlong from country to country. Whether it’s McDonald’s, Subway, KFC, or any other American fast food chain, the menu starts to look pretty different as soon as you leave our borders.
Head to a subway in Japan, and you’ll have the option to tuck into a shrimp melt. That’s right — not a tuna melt, but a shrimp melt.
Because seriously, who says cheese and seafood don’t mix? Not Japanese Subway. In the Land of the Rising Sun, you can get shrimp and vegetables smothered in cheese on a classic Subway bun. Sounds weirdly delicious.
10 Most Famous American Fast Foods
It's a fast paced world we live in. Thanks to the Internet, information is available in an instant, stocks can be traded in real time with the click of a button and you can buy just about anything you can think of on the spot (with overnight delivery). Digital cameras render crystal clear photographs ready for viewing in a single second. Cell phones put us in touch with anyone we want nearly instantly. Americans simply don't like to wait. The same can be said for how we eat. Since the first fast-food chain, White Castle, opened in 1921, Americans have grown accustomed to getting the food we want in short order.
Fast-food has since spread, with more than 30,000 McDonald's restaurants alone located around the world. McDonald's is the undisputed king of fast-food, serving 52 million people a day in more than 100 countries [source: McDonald's]. That's a lot of Chicken McNuggets. In an article in Rolling Stone magazine in 1998, a survey of American schoolchildren revealed that 96 percent of them could identify Ronald McDonald -- only Santa Claus ranked higher at the time. The same article claimed that McDonald's famous "Golden Arches" had become more widely recognized around the world than the Christian cross [source: Schlosser].
Of course, all this fast-food has led to a problem -- obesity. In 2004, the National Center for Health published a study on obesity in the United States. Between 1962 and 2000, the percentage of obese Americans swelled from 13 percent to 31 percent [source: CDC]. It's probably no coincidence that fast-food restaurants saw tremendous growth as well. The National Bureau for Economic Research published a report in November 2008 that stated that childhood obesity could be cut by as much as 18 percent if fast-food ads were banned [source: Reuter's].
Obese or not, people love their fast-food favorites. That's why we're going to take a look at 10 of the biggest selling fast-food menu items in America on the following pages.
It may feel like a newer franchise, but Subway actually started out in 1965 as a means for co-founder Fred DeLuca to help pay for college. Since then, DeLuca has been able to pay for a lot more than tuition fees. In 2006, he was named by Forbes Magazine as number 242 on the list of richest Americans, with a net worth of about $1.5 billion [source: Forbes]. In 2008, Subway celebrated being in business for 43 years. The sandwich chain has grown from a single shop to more than 30,000 franchises in 88 countries around the world [source: Subway].
Subway stands alone as the largest sandwich chain in the world and operates more stores in the United States, Canada and Australia than McDonald's does. How does this kind of growth translate into sub sales? In the United States alone, Subway sells almost 2,800 sandwiches and salads every minute. The company's Web site also touts another interesting fact -- if all the sandwiches made by every Subway store in a year were placed end-to-end, they would wrap around the Earth at least six times. No word on how many millions of gallons of mayonnaise that means.
9: Chick-fil-A Chicken Sandwich
Chick-fil-A founder Truett Cathy is probably best known for two things: He's credited with inventing the boneless chicken sandwich and his restaurant chain is closed on Sunday. It's unthinkable today to imagine a life without the chicken sandwich, but in 1946 it was all about the hamburger. It's also hard to believe that a corporation that has annual sales of more than $2 billion each year would close down one day a week. Cathy's dedication to his Christian faith has kept the Sabbath wide open for his employees since day one.
Originally a shopping-mall-only restaurant, Chick-fil-A expanded to freestanding stores in 1986 and now operates more than 1,300 franchises in 37 states. The menu has branched out somewhat over the years, adding salads, nuggets and wraps, but the restaurant's bread and butter (literally) is still the original chicken sandwich. Its beauty is in its simplicity -- a pressure-fried chicken breast with pickle slices on top, served between a buttered bun [source: Chick-fil-A].
Pizza may be Italian in origin, but it has become a truly American food because of how popular it is in the United States. In 2007, the total pizza sales in America nearly hit $37 billion and as of July 2008, there were more than 75,000 pizza stores sliding pies into the oven. Independently operated pizzerias make up a slim majority of these totals. The chain Pizza Hut stands as the largest and most successful franchise with almost 14 percent of the total chain sales at a total of $5.1 billion in 2007 [source: Pmq.com].
The original Pizza Hut was opened on campus at Wichita State University in 1958, but didn't become a franchise until the following year. The company now operates almost 15,000 units in the United States alone. The chain is known for its all-you-can-eat pizza and salad buffet and for putting some unusual spins on the classic pie -- crusts stuffed with cheese that you're supposed to eat backwards, "The Insider," which is kind of like a pizza sandwich and another concoction called "The P'Zone." Pizza Hut is the number one seller of pizzas in the United States.
Fried chicken is known as a staple food of the Southern United States, but its appeal is clear all over the world. In 1930, in the throws of the Great Depression, a man named Harland Sanders opened a fried chicken restaurant in the front room of a gas station in Corbin, Ky. The Sanders' Court & Café would grow and expand as the Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) franchise and become the most popular chicken restaurant on Earth.
As of 2008, KFC operates more than 11,000 restaurants in more than 80 countries. Founder Colonel (honorary) Harlan Sanders first began selling his famous "Original Recipe" chicken with its 11 herbs and spices in 1940, and the iconic bucket came along about 17 years later. In 1969, KFC became a publicly traded company, and in 2006, the company sold more than one billion chicken dinners [source: KFC]. Even though KFC was doing well on its own, it joined YUM! Brands, Inc., in 2002 to become part of the largest restaurant group in the world. KFC's partner chains include Pizza Hut and Taco Bell, both listed on this top 10.
If small, square hamburgers are your thing, then you're probably a fan of either Krystal or White Castle. Both fast-food chains are known for the small hamburgers that customers gobble down several at a time. Since White Castle is the original, we'll give them the nod in this case. Walter Anderson and Billy Ingram partnered up in 1921 to create the first fast-food hamburger restaurant, selling their signature "Slyders" for five cents each. The restaurant's name matches the look -- each White Castle restaurant looks like a white castle.
In 1949, White Castle made a change that would end up being its legacy. It made five holes in each square patty and cooked the meat on top of a bed of diced onions. The burger never makes contact with the griddle and is cooked by the steaming onion. The holes allow for a faster, more even cook. The buns are placed on top of the meat to soak up extra flavor as well. Add a slice of dill pickle and you have an American institution -- the Slyder.
Even though White Castle only has 382 stores as of 2009, it sells 500,000,000 Slyders a year and has served 16 billion since 1949. It was the first to reach one million burgers sold and then the first to reach one billion [source: White Castle].
Not many fast-food restaurant founders have been as visible as Wendy's Dave Thomas was. In a bold marketing move, Thomas became the face of the franchise on TV commercials in 1989, and continued doing so until he passed away in 2002. The first Wendy's Old Fashioned Hamburgers restaurant was opened by Thomas and co-founder John Schuessler in 1969 in Columbus, Ohio. It was important for Dave from the beginning that Wendy's be a cut above its competitors in terms of food quality. If you look closely at the famous logo, you'll see the words "Quality is our Recipe" above the red-haired pigtails the company's mascot "Wendy" wears.
You won't find a heat lamp with a rack of burgers sitting beneath it at a Wendy's. Each "single" hamburger is made-to-order. The classic burger is a 4-ounce, square patty served on a bun with your choice of toppings -- lettuce, tomato, pickle, onion and whatever condiment you fancy. Wendy's ranks third on the burger chain list behind Burger King and McDonald's, with more than 6,500 locations worldwide. In 2006, Wendy's had total revenues of almost $2.5 billion and employed 57,000 people [source: Wendy's].
The chain is also famous for its chocolate version of the milkshake, the Frosty. It was one of the original five menu items and remains a top seller. Dave Thomas wanted to make a milkshake so thick you had to eat it with a spoon and he was pretty successful -- Wendy's sells about 300 million each year [source: Hentges].
4: Arby's Roast Beef Sandwich
Each category of fast-food chain restaurant has its "best in show." There can be only one best selling sub sandwich, one best burger, one best taco. In the middle of the hamburger craze in 1964, Arby's found its niche in the land of roast beef. The Raffel brothers opened the first Arby's Roast Beef Restaurants in Boardman, Ohio. Beef was a big hit with the burger chains, so the Raffels decide that instead of grinding it up, they'd slow roast it and slice it thin. The name Arby's comes from spelling out the initials R.B. -- for Raffel brothers, not "roast beef."
Arby's operates more than 3,500 restaurants in the United States and Canada, and the chain's most popular sandwich is still the signature roast beef sandwich. The beef is sliced fresh for each sandwich and customers can top it themselves with the famous Arby's and Horsey sauces. In 2008, Arby's purchased Wendy's for $2.34 billion, forming the third largest fast-food company in the world.
Just like Arby's cornered the roast beef market, Taco Bell has carved out a spot as the number one Mexican fast-food restaurant chain. If you've ever stopped and wondered just what the heck a "taco bell" is, you'll be glad to know that a man named Glen Bell started the franchise and named it after himself. He started the chain in 1962 in California at a time when Mexican food was pretty out of the ordinary in America. The first franchise opened in 1964 and now, the company boasts more than 5,800 restaurants in the United States, Canada, Guam, Aruba, Dominican Republic, Chile, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Puerto Rico, Ecuador, Asia, Europe and the Philippines [source: Taco Bell].
The popular chain serves about 2 billion customers a year and perhaps not coincidentally, also sells roughly 2 billion of its signature tacos. The franchise plows through 3.8 billion tortillas, 62 million pounds of pinto beans, 106 million pounds of cheese and 295 million pounds of ground beef a year [source: Taco Bell]. It made revenues of $6.8 billion in 2005, part of that coming from the million burritos it sells each year. Add in quesadillas, nachos and some signature spins on Mexican classics, like double-decker tacos (a soft flour tortilla wrapped around a hard shell corn tortilla taco) and odd items like the "Crunchwrap Supreme" and you've got a gut pleasing late-night drive-thru destination.
Burger King isn't quite the king -- that distinction resides with McDonald's. But BK has a solid grip on the number two spot, with 11,200 franchises. You can find Burger King franchises in the United States and 69 other countries around the world. Burger loving entrepreneurs James McLamore and David Edgerton started BK in Miami, Fla., in 1954. The Whopper became their signature burger in 1957. One thing that distinguishes Burger King from its competitors is the fact that the burgers are flame broiled instead of cooked on a griddle. The idea was to give the meat that home-grilled taste.
The Whopper is a one-quarter pound beef patty between a sesame seed bun with mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato, pickles, ketchup and sliced onion. Of course, it is Burger King, so you can always "have it your way." This is the advertising slogan from 1974 that the chain is still most well-known for. The BK Web site claims that there are actually 221,184 possible ways you can have it your way. Even though it's a distant second place to McDonald's, total sales of all the Burger Kings are still massive BK restaurants in 2007 surpassed the $13 billion mark [source: Burger King].
There can be only one. One top dog, one that stands head and shoulders above the rest. One that transcends the mundaneness of a mere fast-food chain to become something else altogether -- the symbol of a country, the face of an industry: McDonald's. If you're American, the name itself conjures up an embarrassingly high number of familiar images and memories.
The McDonald brothers started the franchise as a hot dog stand in 1937 and changed things up in 1948 by making the switch to burgers and fries made using a speedy and efficient assembly line system. Things took a fortuitous turn when the McDonald brothers met a milkshake machine salesman named Ray Kroc. Kroc was impressed with the operation and asked to be included as a franchise agent, splitting profits with the brothers for growing the chain. Kroc opened the first franchise in 1955 in Des Plaines, Ill., and the rest is fast-food history. He bought the brothers out for $2.7 million in 1961, and the franchise has grown to operate more than 31,000 stores in over 100 countries [source: McDonald's].
The Big Mac is the most popular fast-food item on Earth. The famous jingle from the 1975 TV commercial taught Americans the ingredients for the Big Mac -- two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onion on a sesame seed bun. In 2004, Mickey D's celebrated the fortieth birthday of the iconic burger. The company sells an astonishing 560 million Big Macs each year, even though they're only available in 13,700 of the franchises [source: Friedman]. People love the Big Mac, some so much that it's become almost an obsession. A man in Fond Du Lac, Wis., claimed he ate two Big Macs a day, every day since 1972. That makes 21,292 Big Macs as of August 2004. And, how many trips to the cardiologist?
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!
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.
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Includes eight (8) 79¢ recipes of your choice each month!
Everyone hip on Subway's sandwiches knows the key to cloning the flavor of many of the chain's top-sellers is in hacking the secret sauces. For example, Subway's Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki Sandwich is pretty bland without the ground chipotle chile in the spice section of your market. McCormick makes good stuff.
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.
The Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki Sandwich, one of Subway's biggest new product rollouts, is made with common ingredients: teriyaki-glazed chicken breast strips, onions, lettuce, tomatoes, green peppers, and olives. But what sets it apart from all other teriyaki chicken sandwiches is Subway's delicious Sweet Onion Sauce. You can ask for as much of the scrumptious sauce as you want on your custom-made sub at the huge sandwich chain, but you won't get any extra to take home, even if you offer to pay. Now you can pour a copycat version of the sauce to your home-built sandwich masterpieces whenever you want.
Find more copycat recipes for famous sauces here.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Peruse a menu at one of the 270-unit LongHorn Steakhouses located throughout the eastern half of the U.S. and you'll find this seasoning blend on battered onion petals, spicy fried shrimp, pork chops, and steaks. Just combine these eight common ingredients in the comfort of your home, and you will have quickly cloned a versatile seasoned salt that can be added to everything that needs flavor, from steaks to chicken to seafood. It's also good sprinkled over eggs, burgers, even popcorn.
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.
Menu Description: "Spicy, shredded beef, braised with our own chipotle adobo, cumin, cloves, garlic and oregano."
The original Mexican dish barbacoa was traditionally prepared by cooking almost any kind of meat goat, fish, chicken, or cow cheek meat, to name just a few, in a pit covered with leaves over low heat for many hours, until tender. When the dish made its way into the United States via Texas the word transformed into "barbecue" and the preparation changed to incorporate above-ground techniques such as smoking and grilling. The good news is that we can recreate the beef barbacoa that Chipotle has made popular on its ginormous burritos without digging any holes in our backyard or tracking down a local source for fresh cow faces. After braising about 30 pounds of chuck roasts, I finally discovered the perfect Chipotle Mexican Grill barbacoa burrito copycat recipe with a taste-alike adobo sauce that fills your roast with flavor as it slowly cooks to a fork-tender delicacy on your stovetop over 5 to 6 hours. Part of the secret for great adobo sauce is toasting whole cumin seeds and cloves and then grinding them in a coffee grinder (measure the spices after grinding them). Since the braising process takes so long, start early in the day and get ready for a big dinner, because I've also included clones here for Chipotle's pico de gallo, pinto beans, and delicious cilantro-lime rice to make your burritos complete. You can add your choice of cheese, plus guacamole and sour cream for a super-deluxe clone version. If you prefer chicken burritos, head on over to my clone recipe for Qdoba Grilled Adobo Chicken.
Menu Description: "Chicken breast tenderloins sauteed with bell peppers, roasted garlic and onions in a garlic cream sauce over angel hair."
This dish is a big favorite of Olive Garden regulars. Chicken tenderloins are lightly breaded and sauteed along with colorful bell peppers and chopped red onion. Angel hair pasta is tossed into the pan along with a healthy dose of fresh scampi sauce. The sauce is really the star, so you might think about doubling the recipe. If you're cooking for two, you can prepare this dish for the table in one large skillet, saving the remaining ingredients for another meal. If you're making all four servings at once, you need two skillets. If you can't find fresh chicken tenderloins (the tender part of the chicken breast), you can usually find bags of them in the freezer section.
Find more delicious recipes for Olive Garden's most famous dishes 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.
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.
On his Food Network TV show Emeril Lagasse mentions "Essence" almost as much as "Bam!" and "Kick it up a notch!" He claims to put his special spice blend on "everything but ice cream." He suggests using it all your meats, veggies and pasta, and combining it with oil to use as a marinade. If you can't get your hands on the version that's sold in the bottle here's how to whip up a quick clone at home. (This recipe I created to clone the taste of the bottled product found in stores is different from the recipe in Emeril's cookbooks.)
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.
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: "Jumbo butterflied shrimp hand-dipped in batter flavored with Captain Morgan Parrot Bay Rum & coconut flakes. Served with pina colada dipping sauce."
Fans of this dish say the best part is the pina colada dipping sauce. And it's true. That sauce is so good you could eat it with a spoon. But the coconut shrimp is pretty awesome too, just on its own. Red Lobster's secret formula includes Captain Morgan's Parrot Bay rum, which sweetens the batter and adds a great coconut flavor (plus you can whip up a nice cocktail with it while you're cooking). Panko breadcrumbs—which give a nice crunch to the shrimp—can be found in the aisle of your market where all the Asian foods are parked. This secret recipe makes two times the size of a serving you get at the Lobster, so there should be enough for everyone. The real thing comes with salsa on the side in addition to the pina colada sauce, but you may not even want to include it.
Find more of your favorite Red Lobster copycat recipes here.
To copy Taco Bell's most famous burrito at home you first must assemble the meaty foundation of many of the chain's top-selling products: the spiced ground beef. Toss it and seven other tasty ingredients into a large flour tortilla and fold using the same technique as taught to new recruits to the chain. Add your favorite hot sauce for a bit of heat, or clone a Taco Bell hot sauce, such as the Taco Bell Fire Border Sauce with the clone recipe 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: "A house specialty full of baked potatoes and topped with Cheddar cheese, bacon and green onions."
The thick-and-creamy texture and rich taste of Tony Roma's best-selling soup is duplicated with a little flour, some half-and-half, and most notably, instant mashed potatoes. Give yourself an hour to bake the potatoes and around 30 minutes to prepare the soup. Garnish each serving with shredded cheese, crumbled bacon and green onions, and then humbly await your due praise.
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.
Panera Bread's Baked Spinach and Artichoke Egg Souffle reminds me of a breakfast Hot Pocket, if a Hot Pocket tasted really good. With eggs, cheese, spinach, and artichoke hearts baked into a buttery crust, this super-cool presentation will earn you big bonus points from your crew in the a.m. And the best part about this copycat Panera spinach souffle recipe is you won't stress out over making the dough from scratch since you use premade Pillsbury Crescent Dough that comes in a tube. Just be sure when you unroll the dough that you don't separate it into triangles. Instead, pinch the dough together along the diagonal perforations to make four squares. After the dough is rolled out, line four buttered ramekins with each square, fill each ramekin with the secret egg mixture, and bake.
Find more of your favorite recipes from Panera Bread 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.
When you check in at one of more than 250 hotels run by this U.S. chain, you are handed a bag from a warming oven that contains two soft and delicious chocolate chip cookies. This is a tradition that began in the early 80s using a recipe from a small bakery in Atlanta. All of the cookies are baked fresh every day on the hotel premises. The chain claims to give out about 29,000 cookies every day. Raves for the cookies from customers convinced the hotel chain to start selling tins of the cookies online. But if you've got an insatiable chocolate chip cookie urge that can't wait for a package to be delivered, you'll want to try this cloned version. Just be sure to get the cookies out of the oven when they are barely turning brown so that they are soft and chewy in the middle when cool.
Now that you're in the swing of things, try baking more famous cookies from my recipes here.
Update 1/13/17: I like to drop the baking temperature to 325 degrees F for a chewier (better) cookie. Cook for about the same amount of time, 16 to 18 minutes.
Update 4/10/20: In April, Hilton Hotels released the actual recipe for the DoubleTree Hotels Signature Cookie for the first time. You can open that recipe in another window to see how close the real recipe revealed in 2020 comes to this clone recipe I created in 2002.
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).
Subway Reveals Exactly Where to Get the Beyond Meatball Sub
Staring in September, Subway&mdashthe world&rsquos largest fast-food chain&mdashwill begin testing a sub sandwich made with Beyond Meat for a limited time at 685 select locations across the United States and Canada. Locations in Jackson, MS South Bend, IN Fresno, CA Louisville, KY Harrisburg, PA and Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada will be part of the limited-time test. The Beyond Meatball Marinara sandwich features vegan meatballs specially developed for Subway and can be ordered vegan by omitting cheese and on Italian or 9-Grain Wheat bread. &ldquoWe&rsquore excited to partner with Subway and are grateful that the menu team through to senior management has entrusted us as their innovation partner to deliver delicious plant-based proteins to their guests,&rdquo Beyond Meat CEO Ethan Brown said. &ldquoWe look forward to a long-term partnership with Subway as we together serve and delight existing and new fans of this iconic chain.&rdquo While Subway will test the new Beyond Meatball Marinara sandwich in select locations, the chain is already considering a nationwide rollout. &ldquoWe anticipate guests across Canada and the US will be encouraging us to expand, so we hope to make a decision soon,&rdquo Subway said in a statement.
Editor’s note: a full list of test locations can be found here
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Do you like mashed potatoes? How about plantains?
If you said yes, then you’ll probably love mofongo. Mofongo is pretty much the American equivalent of mashed potatoes.
In other words, instead of mashing potatoes to create a side dish, Puerto Ricans mash plantains.
Sometimes, they even fry them before mashing them to boost the flavor.
The dish is typically mixed with crunchy pork skin, onions and garlic and then stuffed with either chicken, beef, or vegetables.
Mofongo is a very versatile food that both vegetarians and meat-eaters enjoy.
Order This, Not That: Subway
When it comes to fast food, sandwiches seem like a smart choice, and in many cases, they are. There are still some menu items that might surprise you. So when dining at Subway, the king of quick sandwiches, we suggest.
The subs on the Fresh Fit menu contain less than 375 calories (without cheese or mayonnaise). Go for ones with less sodium such as the Veggie Delite, Oven Roasted Chicken Breast or Roast Beef. Load up on fresh vegetables for toppings (to boost your nutrients), and get a six-inch sandwich on wheat bread. Avoid the wraps -- they have more calories and sodium. For condiments, try mustard or a small amount of oil and vinegar. Ditch mayo and other creamy sauces and dressings. Complete the meal with a small bag of baked chips or pretzels and a calorie-free drink.
NOT: A tuna sub, footlongs or the extra soup and cookies
A six-inch tuna sub has 530 calories, 31 grams of fat and 7 grams of saturated fat thanks to all the mayonnaise. A footlong ham sub has almost 600 calories and more than a day's worth of sodium. Extras like soups and cookies will add hundreds of calories to your meal, so stick to the sandwiches.
Frank Sinatra's Favorite Sub Sandwiches
Because you’ll never want to eat a Subway sandwich again.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a celebrity who hasn’t been to the White House. George Clooney, Jimmy Fallon, Mr. T, Jerry Seinfeld, Oprah. If you’re not impressed yet, I don’t mean that White House, but rather a small, family-owned sub shop in a slightly sketchy backstreet of Atlantic City, New Jersey, where the bright lights of the gigantic Caesars casino a couple of blocks away are still visible.
The owners of White House estimate that since its opening in 1946, the tiny deli has served up more than 25 million hearty subs. And boy, do they mean hearty. After waiting in line for 20-plus minutes to get a booth, I ordered a “whole” rather than a “half,” wondering if it would be enough to satisfy my ravenous appetite. When the server brought my warm chicken Parm sandwich, overflowing with meat and sauce and measuring a whopping 2 feet long, precariously balanced across four paper plates, it was clear that my $15.30 had not gone to waste. “Some people even order two wholes,” she said when she saw my expression.
WTF America? thought the Fab Four when they visited in 1964.
The classic Italian joint has barely changed in 70 years: It’s owned and managed by the families of founder Tony Basile and his business partner, Fritz Sacco. If general manager Wayne Richardson — who married into the Sacco family — wants to change anything, from a recipe to a radio, he has to first run it past the family elders, he says. As a result, the decor — white wooden booths with gaudy orange leather trim — doesn’t just look vintage, it is vintage. The White House is as unpretentious as it comes in a city where gems are more often polished and adorned with neon than they are hidden away: Printouts using Windows ’98 WordArt are slotted into the napkin holders, proudly commemorating 60 years of the deli’s history (they clearly haven’t been updated in 10 years). Faded photos, covering every available space on the wall, show celebrity after celebrity who found their way to the White House after a show in one of the city’s casinos or clubs. A photo of the Beatles collectively holding up a 6-foot sub hangs above the cash-only register, and Frank Sinatra’s towel from his last performance in the city is framed and has pride of place.
In the summer, fresh bread comes in the door about every 30 minutes.
The celebs started coming to the White House from day one, with Sinatra and Dean Martin being early adopters. They came for the food, says Richardson — the place has served premium Italian meat, cheese and fresh-baked white sub rolls from the same two local bakeries since its opening. In the summer, fresh bread comes in the door about every 30 minutes. “There’s something about the Atlantic City water or humidity or something that makes those Italian rolls so damn good,” Richardson says. He might be onto something — the city has won international drinking water events.
But the golden age of the seaside resort is long gone: The White House “has seen a drop of business with Atlantic City going the way it has gone,” says Richardson, and even the city’s prized drinking water is at risk from the municipality’s financial problems. The White House knows the city’s troubles firsthand: The only move away from the original building was in 2011, when an outlet was opened in the now-bankrupt Trump Taj Mahal casino and hotel. The owners have left that restaurant fully equipped, should the casino ever reopen.
1. Porchetta di Ariccia
The fatty, heavily seasoned boneless pork roast, so often enjoyed in sandwiches, is said to have originated in the Rome area, making porchetta di ariccia the most classic version of the dish, of which you can find iterations throughout Italy. The meat is flavored generously with salt, pepper, garlic, and rosemary, and a sandwich of it doesn&apost need much else but the pork and a crusty roll.
The crunchy bits of skin mixed into the succulent chopped roast offers a texture experience as satisfying as the flavor.
Do Subway's Tuna Sandwiches Actually Contain Tuna? Inside Edition Investigates
When you order at a fast food place, you assume you&rsquore getting what you asked for. But two California Subway customers claim their tuna sandwiches didn&rsquot contain any tuna in a recent lawsuit against the sandwich fast food chain.
In its commercials, Subway insists: "100% WILD CAUGHT TUNA, 100% DELICIOUS.&rdquo
Yet customers coast-to-coast want to know what&rsquos up, so Inside Edition conducted our own test to see if something fishy was going on. Our investigative unit bought the tuna at three Subway locations in Queens, New York. When we asked an employee about the tuna controversy, he brought out the packaging showing the listed ingredients: tuna, water and salt.
Our next step was sending the samples to Applied Food Technologies. The Florida-based lab specializes in conducting DNA testing of fish.
So, did the tuna in the tuna sandwiches that we tested actually contain tuna?
&ldquoYes, we confirmed that tuna was definitely in all three samples we received," LeeAnn Applewhite, the CEO of the lab, told Inside Edition.
Subway says in a statement, "The tuna our franchisees serve to their guests every day is 100% real, cooked tuna, and there simply is no truth to the allegations in the complaint filed in California.&rdquo
You won’t recognize your food without artificial coloring
TARRYTOWN, NY — Mozzarella cheese at Panera restaurants won’t be as glaringly white. Banana peppers in Subway sandwiches won’t be the same exact shade of yellow. Trix cereal will have two fewer colors.
Food makers are purging their products of artificial dyes as people increasingly eschew anything in their food they don’t feel is natural. But replicating the vivid colors Americans expect with ingredients like beets and carrots isn’t always easy.
In fact, General Mills couldn’t find good alternatives for the blue and green pieces in Trix, so the company is getting rid of those colors when the cereal is reformulated later this year. The red pieces — which will be colored with radishes and strawberries — will also look different.
“We haven’t been able to get that same vibrant color,” said Kate Gallager, General Mills’ cereal developer.
The shift away from artificial dyes represents the latest chapter for food coloring in the US, which has had a rocky history. As recently as 1950, the Food and Drug Administration said children became sick after eating an orange Halloween candy that contained a dye. The agency eventually whittled down its list of approved color additives after finding several had caused “serious adverse effects.”
Now, more companies say they are replacing artificial dyes with colors made from fruits, vegetables and spices, which are widely considered “natural,” although the FDA doesn’t classify them that way. But these present more challenges than artificial dyes.
In addition to costing more, colors from fruits and vegetables can be sensitive to heat and acidity. And since they’re used in higher doses to achieve boldness, tweaks to other parts of recipes may be needed. Such adjustments can be tricky for companies that manufacture on massive scales.
Still, companies want to court people like Heather Thalwitzer, a 31-year-old homemaker in Melbourne, Florida. Thalwitzer avoids artificial colors because she wants her 6-year-old son to eat quality food and she said red dye has been linked to “mania.”
She has tried alternatives like naturally colored sprinkles from Whole Foods, which her husband thinks taste like fish. But she can get along without such products. One year, she made cupcakes topped with a single blueberry for her son’s birthday.
There are times when Thalwitzer makes exceptions, such as when her son is at a friend’s party.
“I’ll let him have the birthday cake,” she said. “But I’ll cringe.”
The evolution of natural
Part of the challenge with colors from natural sources is that the range of hues has been limited. Blues, for instance, weren’t widely available the US until 2013. That’s when the FDA approved a petition by candy maker Mars Inc. to use spirulina extract as coloring in gum and candy.
The alga can now also be used in ice creams, drink mixes and other products.
“That was a big thing for us,” said Stefan Hake, CEO of the US division of natural color maker GNT.
At the company’s office in Tarrytown, NY, Hake demonstrated how to get blue from spirulina by pouring a liquefied version of it through a coffee filter to isolate the right color components.
The approval of spirulina extract also opened up the world of greens, which can be made by mixing blue and yellow. It turns out plants like spinach brown in heat and aren’t ideal for coloring.
Getting approval for a new color source can take years, but it’s one way companies can fill out their palette of natural hues. In coming weeks, an industry group plans to submit a petition to use the carthamus in safflower for yellow, according to color maker Sensient Technologies.
“It’s just one more that might be another crayon in the crayon box,” said Steve Morris, Sensient’s general manager of food colors for North America.
Sensient also developed a “deodorizing process” to remove flavors from ingredients. That allowed it to introduce an orange for beverages made from paprika.
Morris declined to detail the company’s process. But since the ingredient is not “fundamentally changing the form,” he said the ingredients are still within FDA guidelines of permissible color sources.
Sensient said three-quarters of its new projects for clients in North America involve natural colors. Globally, its sales of colors — natural and synthetic — comes to about $300 million.
Coloring inside the lines
There are seven synthetic colors approved for broad use in foods. But these dyes can be mixed to create a wide range of colors. The colors are made by synthesizing raw materials from petroleum, according to the FDA.
Synthetic colors still dominate in the US, but some cite a study linking them to hyperactivity in children in calling for them to be phased out. Lisa Lefferts at the Center for Science in the Public Interest also says artificial colors can be used in deceptive ways.
“They mask the absence of ingredients,” she said.
Tropicana’s Twister in Cherry Berry Blast flavor, for instance, list apple and grape juice concentrates, but no cherries or berries. A synthetic color gives it the appearance of having the latter fruits.
Of course, natural colors also are used to make foods more appealing and send visual signals about the ingredients they contain. Subway says it will stop using a synthetic dye to give its banana peppers, but will maintain their bright yellow look with turmeric.
Some say a switch to natural color sources isn’t yet possible because it might turn off customers, although they’re looking into how to change.
“We have to deliver bold colors and flavors, or people will stop buying,” said Will Papa, chief research and development officer at Hershey, which makes Jolly Ranchers, Twizzlers and Reese’s.
Mars, which makes M&M’s and Skittles, said it isn’t yet using the spirulina extract it petitioned to have approved.
Not everyone thinks getting rid of artificial colors hinges on finding exact matches with natural alternatives. Panera is betting people won’t mind that its mozzarella cheese might have a yellowish hue after the removal of titanium dioxide. For cookies with candy-coated chocolates, the natural colors it is testing are also duller.
Over time, people will get used to the more muted hues of foods with natural ingredients, said Tom Gumpel, Panera’s head baker.