THE ORIGINAL COPYCAT RECIPES WEBSITE

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    Score: 4.85. Votes: 13

    The menu describes the steakhouse chain's popular fruity drink as a "down under frozen wonder with peaches, DeKuyper Peachtree Schnapps, champagne, Smirnoff Vodka and secret mixers." You don't need to use the same brand-name booze as the chain does, but you will need to find a can of Kern's peach nectar. It's the perfect "secret mixer."

    Source: Top Secret Recipes: Sodas, Smoothies, Spirits & Shakes by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 4.50. Votes: 6

    This clone recipe may be for the whole hamburger, but anybody who knows about Tommy's goes there because they love the chili that's on the burger—and that's the part of this clone they seek. Turns out it's an old chili con carne recipe created back in 1946 by Tommy's founder, Tommy Koulax, for his first hamburger stand on the corner of Beverly and Rampart Boulevards in Los Angeles. By adding the right combination of  water and flour and broth and spices to the meat we can create a thick, tomato-less chili sauce worthy of the gajillions of southern California college students that make late-night Tommy's runs a four-year habit. And if you don't live near one of the two dozen Tommy's outlets, you can still get a gallon of Tommy's famous chili shipped to you. But I hope you really like the stuff, because you'll shell out around 70 bucks for the dry ice packaging and overnight shipping. And don't expect to see the ingredients on the label (drat!) since the chili comes packed in a gallon-size mustard jug.

    Source: Even More Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 5.00. Votes: 2

    No one is sure exactly  which restaurant invented toasted ravioli, but we do know the dish originated in St. Louis sometime in the 40s. Olive Garden's delicious take on the appetizer can be cloned with ease using one of several varieties of pre-made raviolis carried in just about any supermarket. It's best to use the fresher raviolis found in the refrigerated section, but you can also use frozen ones in this copycat toasted ravioli recipe; you just have to let them thaw first before breading them. The original Olive Garden toasted ravioli recipe has a beefy inside, but you can use any ravioli that tickles your fancy including chicken, sausage, vegetarian, or cheese. As for the breading, find Progresso brand Italian style breadcrumbs. Contadina is another popular brand, but their version is much too salty for a good clone.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2 by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 4.00. Votes: 3

    On a trip through Maine I saw an sign advertising a lobster sandwich at the world's most famous hamburger chain. Lobster at McDonalds? I just had to get a closer look. When I got inside a woman behind the counter told me that the sandwich is served only at select McDonald's locations, mostly in Maine, for a limited-time only during the summer months. So I ordered one and sat down in the dining room to examine it. When I opened up the wrapper I found chilled fresh lobster chunks tossed in mayonnaise and piled on a hoagie roll with a leaf of lettuce—it's McDonald's version of a lobster roll. I took a bite and it tasted pretty darn good. I ate the whole thing, ordered another one, and got back on the road. Driving off I thought about how strange it was to eat lobster at McDonald's.

    Source: Top Secret Recipes Unlocked by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 5.00. Votes: 1

    We love to eat salad because it seems so healthy. But add just a couple tablespoons of salad dressing and you've gone form no fat to lots of fat, before your main course has even hit the table. If the salad dressing is delicious, as is Olive Garden's, you might be pouring on more than just a couple tablespoons. Here's a way to eliminate the fat grams from the dressing, but keep all the flavor.

    We'll take out the oil, and add dry pectin to thicken the dressing, along with more water than used in the original version of this recipe. We can add a decent amount of Romano cheese and a single serving of the dressing still comes in a under 1/2 gram of fat. Add some vinegar, a little corn syrup and lemon juice, some spices—mission accomplished.

    Nutrition Facts
    Serving size–2 tablespoons
    Total servings–11
    Calories per serving–42 (Original–90)
    Fat per serving–0g (Original–8g)

    Source: Top Secret Recipes Lite by Todd Wilbur. 

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    Score: 5.00. Votes: 1

    Menu Description: "Fresh ripe bananas in our rich vanilla cream, topped with fresh whipped cream or fluffy meringue." 

    Bakers get to work by 5 a.m. at Marie Callender's to begin baking over 30 varieties of pies. Huge pies. Pies that weigh nearly three pounds apiece. The fresh, creamy, flaky delicious pies that have made Marie Callender's famous in the food biz. On those mornings about 250 pies will be made at each of the 147 restaurants. Modest, I suppose, when compared with Thanksgiving Day when the stores can make up to 3,500 pies each.

    For now though, we'll start with just one—banana cream pie with flaky crust, whipped cream, and slivered almonds on top. This recipe requires that you bake the crust unfilled, so you will have to use a pie weight or other oven-safe object to keep the crust from puffing up. Large pie weights are sold in many stores, or you can use small metal or ceramic weights (sold in packages). Or place dried beans on the crust which has first been lined with aluminum foil or parchment paper.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 4.87. Votes: 15

    Menu Description: “A creamy soup made with roasted chicken, traditional Italian dumplings and spinach.”

    It’s hard to find pre-made gnocchi that is as good as the stuff Olive Garden uses in their hit soup. The gnocchi are shaped into small disks and seasoned with a bit of nutmeg. So we'll make the gnocchi for our clone from scratch. In this secret recipe for gnocchi made the Olive Garden way I found it easiest to use instant mashed potatoes. This saved time and the gnocchi always tasted great. After you make the gnocchi by forming the dough into small disks, you can start on the soup. For the chicken, just grab a roasted chicken in your supermarket. Take off the skin, then remove the meat and chop it up before adding it to the soup. When the soup is done you will have 8 1-cup servings of a soup that tastes exactly like the new Olive Garden favorite.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 5.00. Votes: 2

    One of top choices for your salad at this popular Mexican chain is this delicious, slightly spicy chipotle-flavored dressing. A clone for this one is made easily by combining several ingredients in small pan over medium heat and simmering for 5 minutes. The final step involves creating an emulsion to thicken the dressing and to keep the oil from separating. I suggest measuring the oil into a spouted measuring cup. This will make it easy to drizzle the oil in a thin stream into the dressing while you are rapidly whipping the mixture with a wire whisk. If you break a sweat, you’re doing it right.

    You may notice that there is no jalapeño mentioned in this recipe. Chipotle is a smoke dried jalapeño. We'll use ground chipotle chili found near the spices in your market.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 4.88. Votes: 40

    For two years after the first Olive Garden restaurant opened in 1982, operators were still tweaking the restaurant's physical appearance and the food that was served. Even the tomato sauce was changed as many as 25 times. It's that sort of dedication that creates fabulous dishes like this popular soup. It blends the flavors of potatoes, kale, and Italian sausage in a slightly spicy chicken and cream broth. 

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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    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 Recipesbut 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. 

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