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Chi-Chi's

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    Score: 3.00. Votes: 2

    Menu Description: "Our specialty! French Vanilla ice cream with a crunchy, crispy cinnamon coating. Served with your choice of honey, chocolate or strawberry topping."

    Cooks at Chi-Chi's chain of Mexican restaurants are instructed to not memorize recipes for the dishes they make. Management says each chef is required to consult the company cookbooks every time they whip up a meal, so that each dish tastes exactly the same in every Chi-Chi's any time of the day. Perhaps it's that practice that has made Chi-Chi's the largest Mexican restaurant chain in the country. 

    This crispy-coated ice cream sundae is not exactly fried as you may expect by the name. The scoop of vanilla ice cream is actually rolled in cornflake crumbs that have been flavored with sugar and cinnamon, giving it the appearance and texture of being fried. It's a simple idea that tastes just great, and is well worth the try. Chi-Chi's calls this their "specialty" and claims it's the most requested dessert item on the menu.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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    At one time the ice cream in this popular dessert was actually fried. A scoop of ice cream was rolled in breading, then refrozen. Just before serving, the ice cream would be flash-fried in oil for a few seconds, and then served immediately, still frozen in the middle. Considering that the nonfried version served at the restaurant chain still has around 34 grams of fat per serving, we can assume the fried version would weigh in with even more.

    Now we're going to take those grams down even further—by an amazing 80 percent! We'll do that by using fat-free ice cream and fat-free flour tortillas. We'll also cut way down on the fat by spraying the tortillas with a light coating of cooking spray and then baking them, rather than using the traditional frying method. Use a light touch on that whipped cream can, and you've got a very low-fat dessert that just has to be experienced.

    Nutrition Facts
    Serving size–1 dessert
    Total servings–2
    Calories per serving–371 (Original–611)
    Fat per serving–7g (Original–34g)

    Source: Top Secret Recipes Lite by Todd Wilbur.

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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: 5.00. Votes: 4

    Chi-Chi's cofounder Marno McDermott named his restaurant chain after his wife Chi Chi. He claims the name is quite memorable as it translates in Spanish into something like "hooters" in English. The Minneapolis Star quoted McDermott in 1977 shortly after the first Chi-Chi's opened in Richfield, Minneapolis, "English-speaking patrons remember it because its catchy. And the Spanish-speaking customers are amused. Either way it doesn't hurt business."

    One of the side dishes included with several of the entrees at Chi-Chi's is the Sweet Corn Cake. It's sort of like cornbread, but much softer, almost like corn pudding. You'll find it goes well with just about any Mexican dish. The recipe requires a bain marie, or water bath—a baking technique used commonly to keep custards from cracking or curdling. This is done by baking the corn cake in another larger pan filled with a little hot water.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 5.00. Votes: 1

    A deserted Kroger grocery store in Richfield, Minnesota, was the site for the first Chi-Chi's in 1976. That was the year restaurateur Marno McDermott got together with ex-Green Bay Packer football player Max McGee to open the first of what would soon become a growing chain of Mexican food restaurants. Today, with around 100 restaurants found mostly in the Midwestern and Eastern states, Chi-Chi's has become famous for its large portions of food, and for the expression, "don't touch the plate, it's very hot!" 

    Alongside many of the entrees served at the restaurant is this sweet side dish. It's sort of like a combination of custard and cornbread, with corn and cornmeal in it. But the original is loaded with butter. That means if you eat just a very small scoop of the tasty corn cake you'll be putting away around a dozen grams of fat. By using light butter or margarine and substituting milk for the heavy cream, we knock those fat grams down to about half of the real thing served in the restaurant. Yet the flavor and texture is just as good.

    Nutrition Facts
    Serving size–1 scoop
    Total servings–8
    Calories per serving–125 (Original–185)
    Fat per serving–6.5g (Original–13g)

    Source: Top Secret Recipes Lite by Todd Wilbur.

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    Score: 5.00. Votes: 1

    Menu Description: "Grilled steak or chicken wrapped in a flour tortilla with cheese and sauteed vegetables. Then the burrito is basted with spicy barbecue sauce and grilled again. Served with Spanish rice and sweet corn cake."

    This dish burst with the Southwestern flavors that have become so popular lately. Southwestern dishes like fajitas and specialty burritos are the latest rage in the restaurant industry, and now more chains than ever are creating their own spicy, Southwestern-style-goodies.

    I think you'll really enjoy this one. Chi-Chi's has taken fajita-style grilled beef, rolled it up like a burrito, grilled it again, and then smothered it with smoky barbecue sauce. This dish has quickly become a favorite menu item at Chi-Chi's and a favorite for people tiring of the same old Mexican food. Fire up the grill and give this recipe a try.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes by Todd Wilbur.