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Entrees

Nice work. 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. See if Todd has hacked your favorite entrees here. New recipes added every week.

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    Score: 4.83. Votes: 12

    Menu Description: "We use only the 'best of the breast' chicken tenderloin in our recipe. Our dumplins are made from scratch, then hand-rolled and cut into strips before simmering to perfection in chicken stock."

    By 1977 there were 13 Cracker Barrel stores located in Georgia and Tennessee, with all of them based on founder Dan Evins' original concept of a restaurant and store built around gasoline pumps. But with the oil embargo and energy crisis of the mid-seventies, Cracker Barrel started building stores that did not offer gas. Eventually, all of the original 13 stores were converted so you can no longer "filler-up" while you fill yourself up.

    An old-time favorite at Cracker Barrel is the Chicken & Dumplins found on the lunch and dinner menu. The nice thing about this version of the popular classic dish is that it creates its own tasty gravy. As the "dumplins" dissolve, the flour thickens the stock into a creamy sauce.

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

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

     

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    Score: 4.90. Votes: 10

    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 to the HoneyBaked Glazed Ham, 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.

    Now, what's for dessert?

    Source: Even More Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 5.00. Votes: 4

    Menu Description: "A grilled tilapia fillet brushed with a sweet and spicy glaze and garnished with red chili tapenade, cilantro and sesame seeds." 

    Here's a great way to prepare that next batch of fresh fish fillets when you're contemplating a new taste. If you and your diners love spicy food this is the perfect clone, since the top secret glaze and tapenade recipes I've included here both come packing heat. You can make the sauces several hours—or even days—ahead of time, and then when you're ready to eat, the fish will cook up in less than 10 minutes. Chili's calls this "grilled" tilapia on the menu, but don't expect to find grill marks on the fish. It appears the restaurant uses a flat griddle or saute pan to cook the fish, since the tender tilapia would fall through the grate on a barbecue grill. Don't limit this recipe to tilapia. The intense glaze and tapenade will perk up a variety of fish fillets, from sea bass to salmon.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 5.00. Votes: 4

    Menu Description: "A Pacific Northwest-inspired combination of fresh salmon and skewered jumbo shrimp, fire-grilled and topped with a maple and cherry glaze. Served over wild rice pilaf with fresh asparagus."

    Whenever a recipe calls for maple syrup, make sure you use the real deal and not the maple-flavored corn syrups that come in plastic squirt bottles, like Aunt Jemima and Log Cabin. Sure, authentic maple syrup is more expensive than the imitation stuff, and it must be refrigerated after opening, but true maple taste is worth the extra ka-ching. Real maple flavor dominates this sweet glaze, but you'll also notice a nice citrusy note and perfect soy saltiness—it all works really well with salmon and shrimp, and even chicken if you feel like it. Since Red Lobster's executive chef Michael LaDuke added this dish to the menu in July 2007, it's been a big winner for the seafood chain. Now you can add this winning taste to your own repertoire. The clone here is a super simple one, with only 6 ingredients for the glaze, including dried cherries which you should find near the raisins and dried cranberries in your market. You can make the sauce several days ahead of time if you like, and store it, covered, in the fridge until you bring home the perfect salmon fillets.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.

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    When we cook at home, and want to clone the flavor of food like Taco Bell's, it takes no extra effort to make the meal significantly lower in fat than what you get at the restaurant. Why not give this recipe a go? You'll soon find out these tacos taste just like the soft tacos you get from the world's largest Mexican food chain, but with only one-quarter of the fat.

    Nutrition Facts

    Serving size–1 taco
    Total servings–5
    Calories per serving–170 (Original–225)
    Fat per serving–3g (Original–12g)

    Source: Top Secret Recipes Lite by Todd Wilbur. 

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    Despite the name this TSR reduced-fat version of one of Shoney's most popular country-style items is not fried. If it were, it surely wouldn't have nearly one-fourth the fat of the original, which you can order at any of the 900 restaurants in this mostly Southern U.S. chain. But you'll swear this version tastes like the original, because we still bread the steak, and then spray it with a light coating of cooking spray. Once it's baked, then broiled to a golden brown, the steak is smothered with low-fat gravy. Use these low-fat cooking tricks to make a country steak that's just as good as the fried version.

    Nutrition Facts

    Serving size–1 steak
    Total servings–4
    Calories per serving–260 (Original–563)
    Fat per serving–10g (Original–37g)

    Source: Top Secret Recipes Lite by Todd Wilbur.

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    How's this for coincidence: both McDonald's and Taco Bell got their start in San Bernardino, California, in the early '50s. Glen Bell opened a hamburger and hot dog stand called Bell's Drive-In, while the McDonald brothers, Dick and Mac, were just around the corner with their golden arches and speedy drive-up service. "The appearance of another hamburger stand worried me then," says Glen. "I just didn't think there was enough room in town for both of us." Turns out there was enough room—for a while.

    In 1962 Glen decided that it was time to offer an alternative to the hamburger stands that were saturating the area, so he opened the first Taco Bell and changed his menu to Mexican food.

    Ten years and hundreds of new taco Bell openings later, the Burrito Supreme hit the menu and became an instant hit. By making this reduced-fat clone version at home, we can knock the fat down to less than one-fifth of the original.

    Nutrition Facts
    Serving size–1 burrito
    Total servings–4
    Calories per serving–325 (Original–503)
    Fat per serving–4g (Original–22g)

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

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    This quartet of chicken sliders made with dinner rolls has been on the theme eatery's menu since the first restaurant opened back in 1994. It was called Tortuga Tidbits back then, but as a restaurant spokesperson explains, "No one knew what a Tortuga Tidbit was...neither did we. So last year we changed the name to make it more descriptive of the menu item."

    For this low-fat conversion, we'll need to use the Top Secret Recipes hack of Rainforest Cafe Reggae Beat spice blend. The recipe is designed to make a rather unusual yield total of three sandwiches, since the dinner rolls come in packages of twelve.

    Nutrition Facts
    Serving size–1 4-roll sandwich
    Total servings–3
    Calories per serving–768 (Original–863)
    Fat per serving–14g (Original–27g)

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

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    Score: 5.00. Votes: 1

    Andrew J. C. Cherng lived in China, Taiwan, and Japan before he came to the United States to study mathematics at Baker University. After graduation in 1973, Andrew used his extensive education and business savvy to open an Asian restaurant in Pasadena with his father; Master Chef Ming Tsai Cherng. Southern Californians went crazy for Andrew's Panda Inn and its cutting-edge menu that blended the styles of Szechwan and Mandarin cooking.

    Today the chain—now called Panda Express—includes more than 320 units in thirty-two states and is famous for the addictive fried chicken dish with the tangy orange sauce. We can re-create this dish using a baking technique to avoid the fat that's unavoidable when frying.

    Nutrition Facts
    Serving size–1 sliced chicken breast
    Total servings–4
    Calories per serving–400 (Original–580)
    Fat per serving–12g (Original–30g)

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

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    This item has been a huge best-seller since it was first added to Applebee's menu in 1993 as promotional summer chow. The original version of this chicken dish is topped with an oil-based Mexi-ranch dressing, plus a melted cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese blend, making it every shade of tasty, yet brutal on the midriff. This lighter version of the original recipe cuts the fat in half. You'll need only a small amount of tequila to make this taste like the original—we're not making a margarita here! I learned the hard way that if you add more than the seemingly minuscule 1/4 teaspoon of tequila to your chicken, it'll taste like it just got back from a bachelor party in Tijuana. 

    Nutrition Facts
    Serving size–1 entree
    Total servings–4
    Calories per serving–495 (Original–580)
    Fat per serving–15g (Original–30g)

    Source: Low Fat Top Secret Recipes 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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