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Sandwiches

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 sandwiches here. New recipes added every week.

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    Menu Description: "Our fresh roasted turkey, brick oven roasted seasonal mushrooms with white Cheddar cheese and melted Swiss cheese. Served Hot."

    Although not intended to be a restaurant where sightseeers are encouraged to catch a glimpse of celebrities, many stars were spotted at the L.A. location of this trendy theme eatery. Through the "hatch" walked the likes of Candice Bergen, Warren Beatty, Michael Keaton, Tom Hanks, Michael Douglas, and Rob Reiner. Pierce Brosnan and Henry Winkler were regulars, and for some time co-founder Steven Spielberg could be seen eating there weekly. Today, the only way to experience food from this now defunt chain is to clone it at home. Sadly, you won't spot many celebrities in your kitchen. 

    For this sandwich, inspired by Dive!'s popular Brick Oven Mushroom and Turkey Cheese Sub, you will likely not have the luxury of a brick oven to roast the mushrooms, but I've found the recipe is just as tasty as the real thing with sauteed mushrooms. It's important that you find the freshest bread your market has available, and if possible, get the turkey sliced for you at a full-service deli counter. A sandwich is only as good and as fresh as its ingredients, so try to find the best your market has to offer.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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    Menu Description: “Ham, salami, pork, Swiss cheese, mayo, mustard and pickles, pressed until golden brown.”

    This chain of island-themed restaurants features a delicious Cuban sandwich as one of the menu’s specialty items. A variety of meats are stacked on a crusty sandwich roll along with some pickles, then the sandwich is pressed until warm and flattened on a plancha grill. While there are many different ways to build a Cuban sandwich, the traditional recipe does not include mayonnaise, tomatoes, lettuce or onions. Cheeseburger in Paradise breaks tradition a bit by spreading some mayonnaise on the bread, but that’s okay, because otherwise this recipe stays true to the classic formula. Marinated pork is the superstar in this sandwich, so we must make that from scratch using juices plus lots of garlic, onion and oregano. We’ll marinate the pork for a couple hours just as the restaurant does, then bake it in a slow oven. When the pork is ready and sliced you stack it on the sandwich with other sliced deli meats, some Swiss cheese and pickles, and then it’s ready to be browned. I don’t expect you’ll have a plancha grill handy, but you can use a hot skillet with another very heavy pan, such as a cast iron skillet, to press down on top of the sandwich. I also like to put a brick in the skillet on top to help flatten the sandwich even more. For a true Cuban experience serve these along with a pitcher of mojitos and have everyone do their best Ricky Ricardo impression. 

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 5.00. Votes: 2

    To honor the International Day of Peace on September 21, 2015, Burger King published an open letter to McDonald's in The New York Times and Chicago Tribune proposing that the two burger giants call a cease fire on their "burger wars," and honor the day by joining forces to sell a one-day mash-up of their two famous hamburgers at a pop-up shop located in Atlanta—the halfway point between the two cities where the chains' headquarters are located (Chicago and Miami). The letter stated that the "McWhopper" would include "All the tastiest bits of your Big Mac and our Whopper, united in one delicious, peace-loving burger." Burger King spent some significant time and money on the campaign, building a beautiful website and super slick YouTube video, but unfortunately the proposal fell flat. McDonald's CEO Steve Easterbrook responded with his own open letter stating, "We love the intention, but think our brands could do something bigger to make a difference." In other words, "Thanks, but no thanks." He ends his letter with a biting p.s. that reads, "A simple phone call will do next time." Ouch. 

    It looks like there won't be a real McWhopper in our near fast food future, but that doesn't mean you can't still taste one for yourself. Or, at least a clone of one using this Top Secret Recipe which I assembled from information found on the McWhopper website and the hack recipes I created years ago for the Big Mac and Whopper. If you like both of those sandwiches I promise you that your efforts will be rewarded here. This is a really good burger. 

    Included in the recipe below is my new, improved hack of McDonald's secret sauce from the new book, Top Secret Recipes Step-by-Step, plus the full assembly instructions for the burger. The Whopper is built with a flame-broiled patty, so you'll need a grill for that, and the Big Mac patty can be cooked in a pan on your stovetop. The bun sizes are different for each of these burgers, so if you want it to be authentic, you'll need to buy a package of small sesame seed buns and a package of large ones. Slap together the six components from each of the two burgers and even though the two halves taste great on their own, when combined these ingredients make a delicious and unique hamburger that unlike any you've had before.

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    Score: 4.78. Votes: 9

    In the early eighties, at his Gardenhouse restaurant, Chef Paul Wenner created a unique meatless patty to replace hamburgers. The patty, which contained mushrooms, brown rice, onions, oats, and low-fat cheeses was dubbed Gardenburger and quickly became a hit. Soon, Wenner closed his restaurant and began to concentrate on marketing his meatless, low-fat creation to a hungry, health-conscious America. Today Gardenburger patties can be found in more than 35,000 food service outlets around the world, and in more than 20,000 stores.

    Now you can make a surprisingly accurate clone of the real thing with the same type of ingredients Wenner uses. Most of the ingredients can be found at your local supermarket, although you may have to go to a health food store to get bulgar wheat. And if you jog over there you can burn off the few calories you ingest from this cool kitchen clone.

    Nutrition facts:
    Serving size–1 patty
    Total servings–6
    Calories per serving–135
    Fat per serving–3g

    Source: Top Secret Recipes Lite by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 5.00. Votes: 2

    New to the lunch menu in 1995, this sandwich would normally have around 20 grams of fat, mostly because of the Caesar dressing. But if we use some low-fat and fat-free ingredients, we can reduce those fat grams by better than half of the original. And then we'll have a flavor-packed reduced-fat clone of the delicious Olive Garden creation that's great for lunch or dinner. 

    Keep in mind that the chicken will need to marinate for several hours, so start this one early, or even better, the day before you plan to eat it. This will ensure that your chicken is well marinated and the flavors in the dressing will have time to develop.

    Nutritional Facts
    Serving Size–1 sandwich
    Total servings–4
    Calories per serving–450 (Original–543)
    Fat per serving–9g (Original–20.5g)

    Source: Top Secret Recipes Lite by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 5.00. Votes: 10

    When I think back on all the grilled cheese sandwiches I was served as a kid, I don't get very nostalgic. Around my house the recipe was plain and simple: slap some American cheese between a couple slices of white Wonder bread and grill it in a hot skillet until browned on both sides. Good enough grub for a kid I guess, but what if Moms back in the day had a grilled cheese recipe like the one served at Mimi's Cafe? Would my young palate have been able to appreciate the five different cheeses? Would the sourdough bread brushed with soft garlic butter and sprinkled with Parmesan cheese have won over a littler me? I don't know the answers to these questions, but I do know that as an adult this is the best grilled cheese sandwich I've ever had. It's been on Mimi's menu since the first day the restaurant opened back in 1978 in Anaheim, California; and the chain serves around 18,000 of these sandwiches every year—surely to both adults and kids alike. Grab yourself some sliced Swiss, Cheddar, Jack, mozzarella, shredded Parmesan and sourdough bread. This is an easy recipe, so you'll have no trouble quickly cranking out four awesome grilled cheese sandwiches that I'm sure absolutely everyone will love.

    Now, how about a bowl of Mimi's Cafe Corn Chowder or French Onion Soup to go with that sandwich? 

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.

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    Menu Description: "Nacho Ordinary Burger! Shredded lettuce, tortilla strips, chili queso and green onions. Served open faced w/sour cream, guacamole, jalapenos and pico de gallo."

    This hack includes recipes for popular garnishes and sides offered at Chili's: Chili's Chili Queso, Chili's Pico de Gallo, and Chili's Guacamole. Now, in this one recipe, you'll learn how to clone all three components from scratch. You then pile everything on a hamburger with some jalapenos, crunchy tortilla chips and chopped green onion, and serve it open-faced with extra guacamole and queso on the side. 

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2 by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 3.67. Votes: 6

    Menu Description: "1/4 pound of 100% pure beef in two patties with American cheese, crisp lettuce and our special sauce on a sesame seed bun."

    Bob Wian's little ten-stool diner, Bob's Pantry, was in business only a short time in Glendale, California, before establishing a following of regular customers—among them the band members from Chuck Fosters Orchestra. One February night in 1937, the band came by after a gig as they often did to order a round of burgers. In a playful mood, bass player Stewie Strange sat down on a stool and uttered, "How about something different for a change, Bob?" Bob thought it might be funny to play along and serve up Stewie a burger he could barely get his mouth around. So Bob cut a bun into three slices, rather than the usual two, and stacked on two hamburger patties along with lettuce, cheese, and his special sauce. When Stewie tasted the huge sandwich and loved it, every band member wanted his own!

    Just a few days later, a plump little six-year old named Richard Woodruff came into the diner and charmed Bob into letting him do odd jobs in exchange for a burger or two. He often wore baggie overalls and had an appetite that forced the affectionate nickname "Fat Boy". Bob thought it was the perfect name for his new burger, except the name was already being used as a trademark for another product. So the name of the new burger, along with Bob's booming chain of restaurants, was changed to "Big Boy." The company's tradename Big Boy character is from a cartoonists napkin sketch of "fat boy," little Richard Woodruff.

    The Big Boy hamburger was the first of the double-decker hamburgers. McDonald's Big Mac, the world's best-known burger that came more than 30 years later, was inspired by Bob Wian's original creation. See if you can get your mouth around it. 

    Check out my other Big Boy copycat recipes here

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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    Menu Description: "Lean shaved Philly steak folded into a grilled tortilla roll with Monterey Jack and Cheddar, sauteed mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, bacon and jalapenos."

    With the acquisition of 13 Rio Bravo cantinas in 1994, Applebee's made its move into the competitive "Mexican casual dining sector." Perhaps it's the company's interest in Mexican food that inspired this Philadelphia-Tijuana hybrid sandwich. The steak, cheese, mushrooms, and onions give the sandwich a Philly taste, while the tomatoes, bacon, jalapenos, and the tortilla take you across the border.

    I really like this newer addition to the menu, probably because I'm a big cheesesteak fan who also loves Mexican food. As you can see from this dish, Applebee's has a knack for breathing new life into old sandwich concepts. I hope you'll find this one worth a try.

    If you want to make a "lite" version, refer to the Tidbits at the bottom of the recipe.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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    In 1975 Hardee's opened its 1,000th restaurant. The 2,000th unit was opened in 1983, and shortly after that, in 1988, the 3,000th unit opened its doors. This pattern of expansion has continued: a new Hardee's restaurant now opens on the average of one each workday. With the acquisition of the Roy Rogers chain in 1990, Hardee's neared the 4,000-unit mark, ringing up system-wide sales of more than $3 billion. This is a chain that has come a long way since its first menu in 1961, which contained only eight items, including fifteen-cent hamburgers and ten-cent soft drinks.

    As part of its continuing effort to offer nutrition-conscious customers a range of menu choices, Hardee's was one of the first of the "Big Four" burger chains to switch to low-calorie mayonnaise for its sandwiches. 

    Source: 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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