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You lucky devil. You just found copycat recipes for all of your favorite famous foods! Bestselling author and TV host Todd Wilbur shows you how to easily duplicate the taste of iconic dishes and treats at home. Get all the best restaurant recipes from Applebee's to El Pollo Loco here. New recipes added every week.

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    Score: 5.00. Votes: 2

    Menu Description: "Seasoned beef, refried beans and cheese." 

    Marno McDermott was a successful Minneapolis restaurateur, opening a chain of Mexican restaurants in the seventies called Zapata's against the advice of skeptics who said he would never be able to sell Mexican food to the large population of Scandinavians in the area. Marno proved them wrong then, and once again in 1976, when he partnered with Max McGee, a former Green Bay Packer football player, to open the first Chi-Chi's in Richfield, Minnesota. The restaurant was built inside a deserted Kroger grocery store and became instantly famous for the intensely flavored and larger-than-usual portions of food. To keep volume high, Chi-Chi's designed a custom computer-driven system that clocks every aspect of service from the time each server enters an order to when the order is placed in front of the customers. Special attention was given to the design of the menu items as well, with each dish taking no more than nine minutes to prepare, even during the rush hours. 

    At the restaurant you can order the Nachos Grande with beef, chicken, seafood or a combination. This recipe will show you how to make the beef and chicken versions.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 4.67. Votes: 3

    Menu Description: "Chicken breasts lightly sauteed and topped with lemon butter sauce and capers."

    Buca di Beppo's most popular chicken dish was deliciously simple to reverse-engineer: I asked the server to check on what kind of dairy is used in the sauce and whether or not white wine is cooked into it. After getting the information I needed, I ordered the dish to go with the sauce on the side and got to work back in the lab. Several versions hit the sink as I successfully experimented with various amounts of wine, butter, and cream. it was only after I decided to chill the sauce that I got the information that I needed. The sauce formed a firm solid in the fridge, which indicated that I needed a lot more butter than first estimated. I made the proper adjustments and the sauce that sat in my pan was a perfect match that could surely stand up to a blindfolded taste test. The rest of the secret technique required pounding the chicken breasts until thin. This tenderized the chicken and made each piece the same size as the original. A quick saute later, I was arranging the chicken on a serving platter, adding capers, spooning on plenty of sauce, and I had before me a beautiful culinary carbon copy indistinguishable from the popular menu pick.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 5.00. Votes: 1

    Menu Description: "Grilled Chicken breast topped with goat cheese, sundried tomatoes, and a basil lemon butter sauce."

    Carrabba's number one chicken dish is simple to clone once you duplicate the delicious basil lemon butter sauce. Preheat your grill to high and pound the chicken breasts with a mallet so that they'll cook evenly. Use the sun-dried tomatoes that come in a bag rather than those that come bottled in oil. To rehydrate them, simmer the sun-dried tomatoes in a small pan of water for about 4 minutes, then slice them. The goat cheese used at the chain is called Caprino cheese, which is a very smooth and creamy goat cheese. If you can't find Caprino, use any available goat cheese from your market and you'll still have a tasty clone.

    Complete the Carrabba's experience with my copycat recipes for their bread dipping blendsausage lentil soup, and creamy Italian dressing

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 3.67. Votes: 3

    The number two Mexican fast food chain nicely duplicates the delicious fish tacos you'd find in coastal towns south of the border: two corn tortillas wrapped around a fried halibut fillet that's topped with cabbage, fresh salsa, and a creamy "secret sauce." It's practically impossible to eat just one—they're that good. And, thanks to the availability of breaded frozen fish sticks in just about every market, a home clone is stupidly simple. If you can't find crispy halibut sticks in your local store, the more common breaded pollock will work just fine here. You can also use frozen fish portions that are grilled if you're not into the breaded (fried) stuff. The real recipe at Del Taco comes with two thin corn tortillas, but sometimes the only available corn tortillas in consumer markets are the thicker ones. If that's the case, you'll need just one per taco.

    How about a cold margarita to wash down those tacos? Find your favorite famous drink recipes here

    Source: Top Secret Recipes Unlocked by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 5.00. Votes: 1

    Menu Description: "It takes half a day to make this perfect combination of onion, celery, carrot and garlic."

    Before a skilled chef appears tableside to perform his culinary prestidigitation on the hot hibachi grill at Benihana, you're treated to a tasty bowl of chicken broth-based soup with fried onions, sliced mushrooms and green onions floating cheerfully on top. The restaurant menu claims this soup takes a half a day to make, but we can clone it in a fraction of that time using canned chicken broth (I use Swanson brand). This soup works great as a prelude to your favorite Asian dishes or other Benihana clones since it's so light and won't fill up anyone before the main course. I've included a simple technique here for making the breaded fried onions from scratch (for the most accurate clone), but you can skip that step by substituting French's canned French Fried Onions that are sold in most markets.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2 by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 5.00. Votes: 14

    Menu Description: "Fire-roasted chicken breast topped with mushrooms, prosciutto and our Florio Marsala wine sauce." 

    To reverse-engineer this big-time favorite entree, I ordered the dish to go, with the sauce on the side, so that I could separately analyze each component. After some trial and error in the underground lab, I found that recreating the secret sauce from scratch is easy enough with a couple small cans of sliced mushrooms, a bit of prosciutto, some Marsala wine, shallots, garlic and a few other good things. Cooking the chicken requires a very hot grill. The restaurant chain grills chicken breasts over a blazing real wood fire, so crank your grill up high enough to get the flames nipping at your cluckers (not a euphemism) for this Carrabba's chicken marsala recipe. If your grill has a lid, keep it open so you can watch for nasty flare-ups.

    Click here for more of your favorite dishes from Carrabba's. 

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2 by Todd Wilbur.

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    This top secret clone of the cheesy appetizer from this 107-unit Mexican food chain is perfect to whip out for your festive fiestas. This recipe will make enough of the spicy cheese concoction for plenty of party time double-dipping. The Anaheim chili has a mild spiciness, so we'll toss a jalapeno in there for extra kick. If you can't find an Anaheim pepper, use any mild green chilies that are available, as long as you get about 1/2 cup of diced pepper in the mix.

    Find more famous dip recipes here.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2 by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 5.00. Votes: 2

    This zippy mango salsa clone from America's "Fresh Mex" chain is great sprinkled over fajitas, burritos, tacos, salads, sandwiches—you name it. The salsa is so good on its own you may be tempted to eat it straight from the bowl with a spoon. A little bit of fresh habanero pepper brings the heat to this concoction, but if you can't track down fresh peppers use a couple drops of your favorite bottled habanero sauce.

    Check out my recipe for Chevy's Fresh Salsa here

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2 by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 5.00. Votes: 3

    Whip out the food processor and fire up the grill because you'll need these essential tools to clone one of the best restaurant salsas in the business. The key to recreating the flavor of the real deal is to fire roast the tomatoes and the jalapenos, and to add a little mesquite-flavored liquid smoke. The restaurant chain uses a mesquite grill, so these steps are crucial to getting the same smoky flavor as the popular restaurant version. Chevys uses chipotle peppers, which are smoked red jalapenos. But unless you grow your own jalapenos, it may be difficult to find the riper red variety in your local supermarket. For this recipe, the green jalapeno peppers will work fine if you can't find the red ones. Adjust the number of jalapenos you use based on the size of the peppers that are available: if you have big jalapenos you need only 6, and you'll need around 10 if your peppers are small.

    Check out my recipes for Chevy's flan, chili con queso, and more here

    Nutrition Facts
    Serving size–2 tablespoons
    Total servings–16
    Calories per serving–10
    Fat per serving–0g

    Source: Low-Fat Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 4.77. Votes: 26

    This soup happens to be one of Chili's most raved-about items, and the subject of many a recipe search here on the site. Part of the secret in crafting your clone is the addition of masa harina—a corn flour that you'll find in your supermarket near the other flours, or where all the Mexican foodstuffs are stocked.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2 by Todd Wilbur.

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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.

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