THE MOST TRUSTED COPYCAT RECIPES
THE MOST TRUSTED COPYCAT RECIPES
Simon Kitchen & Bar Wok-Charred Edamame copycat recipe by Todd Wilbur

Simon Kitchen & Bar Wok-Charred Edamame

Score: 5.00 (votes: 1)
Reviews: 1
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In 2008 Chef Kerry Simon packed up his knives at the Hard Rock Casino and Hotel and moved across the Las Vegas Strip into the Palms Place tower at the Palms. The new restaurant features some of the same comfort food favorites as the old joint, such as truffled & cheese and cotton candy for dessert, but Kerry has now added a sushi bar and a broader menu which includes breakfast, lunch and a must-try Sunday brunch where you may be eating alongside the likes of Avril Lavigne or Hugh Hefner and his girlfriends. When you're noodling over which appetizers to try you must check out this delicious addicting edamame starter: A pile of soybeans are cooked over high heat in a wok until their pods are blackened in spots, then they're tossed in fresh lime juice and a Japanese 7-spice seasoning called shichimi togarashi. Togarashi is a spicy blend of orange peel, sesame seeds, seaweed and chili that you can purchase in most Asian markets or online. The blend usually doesn't include salt, so you'll have to add some of that as well before you dig in. Or, you can use Szechwan seasoning such as one made by Sun-Bird that's found in most grocery stores where the Asian foods are parked. These blends will usually have salt in them, so you probably don't need to add additional salt if you use the Szechwan seasoning. You'll want to cook these in a wok that's been preheated over a flame on a gas stove, or you can use a cast-iron skillet that's been preheated for at least 10 minutes - you should see a lot of smoke when you drop those beans in the pan! Turn on the vent over your stove before you start cooking unless you need to test your smoke detectors.

Get This

_main
  • 1/2 pound frozen edamame, thawed
  • 1 tablespoon light olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 teaspoon shichimi togarashi (Japanese 7-spice) or Szechwan seasoning salt
Do This

1. Preheat a wok or cast iron skillet over medium/high heat for several minutes until hot.

2. Toss the edamame in the olive oil in a small bowl until all of the beans are coated with oil, and then use your hands to remove the edamame from the bowl and drop them into the pan (don't dump the bowl into the pan or you will add the excess oil). Cook the edamame for 4 to 5 minutes or until the pods of the beans are blackened in spots. Stir the beans every minute or so.

3. Use tongs to remove the beans from the pan and drop them into a clean bowl. Pour lime juice over the edamame, and toss. Add seasoning, salt to taste (if using togarashi—about 1/8 teaspoon), toss again, and serve.

Serves 2 to 4 as an appetizer.

>Tidbits: To eat edamame, squeeze the beans from a pod directly into your mouth and then toss out the pod. The charred pods may look tasty, but you don't want to eat them.

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Reviews
Carol B.
Apr 14, 2009, 22:00
Absolutely delicious! Healthy too!

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    Check out the video demonstration of this recipe.

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    Cheesecake Factory Miso Salmon

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    T.G.I. Friday's Tuscan Portobello Melt

    Menu Description: "Sliced Portobello mushrooms between layers of Provolone & Monterey Jack cheeses, roasted onions and tomatoes on grilled, buttery bread."

    Contestants on the November 1, 2006 episode of Top Chef on Bravo were challenged to take a childhood favorite dish and update it with a twist. Friday's Senior Executive Chef Stephen Bulgarelli sat at the judges table and endured a bizarre wonderland mushroom plate, a sloppy cheese steak sandwich, and an over-salted surf and turf tragedy. Finally, it was the delicious variation on a grilled cheese sandwich created by Betty Fraser that took the top spot. As a reward, Betty's sandwich was added to over 500 Friday's menus across the country, and now we have a Top Secret clone to easily recreate the tasty winner at home. Friday's modified Betty's recipe to make it easier to prepare in the quick-service environment of the restaurant, and that's the version I've cloned for you in this recipe.

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    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 3 by Todd Wilbur.

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    Joe's Stone Crab Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes

    Joseph Weiss was living in New York with his wife and son when his doctor told him he would need a change of climate to help his asthma. He journeyed to Miami, Florida in 1913 and discovered he was able to breathe again. He quickly moved his family down South and opened his first restaurant, a little lunch counter. 

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    Sabrett Onions in Sauce

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    Hooters Buffalo Chicken Wings

    Menu Description: "Nearly world-famous. Often imitated, hardly ever duplicated."

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    Chili's Chicken Enchilada Soup

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    Joe's Crab Shack Blue Crab Dip

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    P.F. Chang's Dan Dan Noodles

    Menu Description: "Scallions, garlic and chili peppers stir-fried with ground chicken nesting on hot egg noodles. Garnished with shredded cucumber and bean sprouts."

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    P.F. Chang's Chang's Spicy Chicken (General Chu's)

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    Outback Steakhouse Grilled Shrimp on the Barbie & Remoulade Sauce

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    Olive Garden Tiramisu

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    Cinnabon Cinnamon Rolls

    In early 1985, restaurateur Rich Komen felt there was a specialty niche in convenience-food service just waiting to be filled. His idea was to create an efficient outlet that could serve freshly made cinnamon rolls in shopping malls throughout the country. It took nine months for Komen and his staff to develop a cinnamon roll recipe he knew customers would consider the "freshest, gooiest, and most mouthwatering cinnamon roll ever tasted." The concept was tested for the first time in Seattle's Sea-Tac mall later that year, with workers mixing, proofing, rolling, and baking the rolls in full view of customers. Now, more than 626 outlets later, Cinnabon has become the fastest-growing cinnamon roll bakery in the world.

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    Chili's Salsa

    My super simple Chili's salsa recipe can be made in a pinch with a can of diced tomatoes, some canned jalapeños, fresh lime juice, onion, spices, and a food processor or blender. Plus, you can easily double the recipe by sending in a larger 28-ounce can of diced tomatoes, and simply doubling up on all the other ingredients. Use this versatile salsa as a dip for tortilla chips, or plop it down onto any dish that needs flavor assistance—from eggs to taco salads to wraps to fish. You can adjust the heat level to suit your taste by tweaking the amount of canned jalapeños in the mix. 

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    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2 by Todd Wilbur.

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    T.G.I. Friday's Black Bean Soup

    If you start making black bean soup in the morning using other recipes out there, you're lucky to be slurping soup by lunchtime. That's because most recipes require dry beans that have to re-hydrate for at least a couple hours, and many recipes say "overnight." But, you know, tomorrow is just too far away when you're craving soup right now. 

    So, for this often requested T.G.I. Friday's Black Bean Soup recipe, I sped up the process by incorporating canned black beans, rather than the dry ones. That way, once you get all the veggies chopped, you'll be souped up in just about an hour. Friday's version of this soup has a slightly smoky flavor that's easily duplicated here with just a little bit of concentrated liquid smoke flavoring found in most supermarkets. Just be sure to get the kind that says "hickory flavor."

    Try more of my T.G.I. Friday's copycat recipes here.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2 by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 10)
    Roadhouse Grill Baby Back Ribs

    Menu Description: "Our award-winning Baby Back Ribs are slow-roasted, then basted with Jim Beam Bourbon BBQ Sauce and finished on our Mesquite grill."

    When your crew bites into these baby backs they'll savor meat so tender and juicy that it slides right off the bone. The slow braising cooks the ribs to perfection, while the quick grilling adds the finishing char and smoky flavor. But the most important component to any decent rack of ribs is a sauce that's filled with flavor, and this version of Roadhouse Grill's award-wining sauce is good stuff. I ordered the ribs naked (without sauce) so that I could see if there was any detectable rub added before cooking, and I didn't find anything other than salt and a lot of coarse black pepper. So that's the way I designed my Roadhouse Grill Baby Back Ribs copycat recipe, and it works.

    Find more of my Roadhouse Grill copycat recipes here.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2 by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 4)
    P.F. Chang's Chang's Spare Ribs

    Menu Description: "Wok-seared with Chang's barbecue sauce."

    One of the most popular eats on P. F. Chang's appetizer menu is the Chinese spare ribs that arrive slathered with Asian-style barbecue sauce. The Asian flavor comes from the addition of sweet hoisin sauce to a fairly rudimentary barbecue sauce formula. Chang's menu says these ribs are spare ribs, although they appear to be much smaller, more like baby backs. You can certainly use either for my P.F. Chang's Spare Ribs recipe below. Just be sure to trim the ribs first, since the restaurant version is lean, clean ribs with no extra meat or fat hanging off. T

    There are several ways to cook pork ribs—P. F. Chang's boils theirs first, then fries them. After that, the ribs are tossed with the sauce in the wok and served piping hot. A serving of these ribs at the restaurant is 6 individual ribs, but since a full rack is as many as 12 ribs, this recipe will make twice what you get in a serving at the bustling bistro chain.

    Find more of your favorite P.F. Chang's dishes here.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2 by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 4.97 (votes: 34)
    P.F. Chang's Mongolian Beef

    Menu Description: "Quickly-cooked steak with scallions and garlic."

    Beef lovers go crazy over this one at P.F. Chang's. Flank steak is cut into bite-sized chunks against the grain, then it's lightly dusted with potato starch, flash-fried in oil, and doused with an amazing sweet soy garlic sauce. The beef comes out tender as can be, and the simple sauce sings to your taste buds. 

    I designed my P.F. Chang's Mongolian Beef recipe using a wok, but if you don't have one, a sauté pan will suffice. You may need to add more oil to the pan to cover the beef in the flash-frying step. 

    P. F. Chang's secret sauce is what makes this dish so good, and it's versatile. If you don't dig beef, you can substitute with chicken. Or you can brush it on grilled salmon.

    I've cloned some of the best dishes from P.F. Chang's. Click here to see if I coped your favorite.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2 by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 4.75 (votes: 4)
    IHOP Country Griddle Cakes

    Menu Description: "Delicious blend of buttermilk and real Cream of Wheat."

    This nationwide chain, which is known for its big bargain breakfasts, serves an impressive number of non-breakfast items as well. In 1997, IHOP dished out over 6 million pounds of french fries and over half a million gallons of soft drinks. But it's the Country Griddle Cakes on the breakfast menu that inspired this Top Secret Recipe. The unique flavor and texture comes from the Cream of Wheat in the batter. Now with my IHOP Country Griddle Cakes recipe below, you can have your pancakes, and eat your cereal too.

    Check here for many more of my IHOP copycat recipes.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2 by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 8)
    Denny's Fabulous French Toast

    Menu Description: "Three thick slices grilled golden brown and sprinkled with powdered sugar."

    This popular breakfast choice at America's number one diner chain takes center stage on the cover of the menu. Three slices of thick bread are dipped in a slightly sweet egg batter, browned to perfection and served up with a dusting of powdered sugar, some soft butter and thick maple syrup on the side. Find the thick-sliced Texas toast bread in your bakery, or use any white bread that's sliced around 3/4-inch thick. My Denny's French toast recipe below will make enough for two servings of three slices each, and it's the perfect recipe for waking up a special someone with breakfast in bed.

    Find more amazing breakfast ideas here.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2 by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 4.80 (votes: 5)
    Chili's Boneless Shanghai Wings

    Menu Description: "Crispy breaded chicken breast topped with sweet and spicy ginger-citrus sauce. Served with spicy-cool wasabi-ranch dressing for dipping."

    So you're into boneless wings, but you need a break from the traditional cayenne flavor of the Buffalo style. If fresh ginger-laced sweet-and-sour sauce sounds seducing, here is a variation worth snacking on. In my Chili's Boneless Shanghai Wings recipe below, I'll show you how to make the boneless wings, the secret sauce, and an easy way to fabricate a carbon copy of Chili's great wasabi-ranch dipping sauce just by adding a few ingredients to Hidden Valley Ranch dressing. I suggest adding one drop of green food coloring to the sauce to give it the same green tint of the original. The wasabi powder won't add much color, so this is the trick. You can find the dry powdered form of wasabi horseradish in the supermarket aisle with the other Asian foods.

    Check out more of my recipes for Chili's famous dishes here

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2 by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 1)
    Kraft Shake 'N Bake Original

    Need a recipe that copies Shake 'N Bake in a pinch? Use my recipe below for a quick blend of flour, corn flake crumbs, and spices that will give you the same texture and flavor of the original. You may notice the color is a bit different in this clone when compared to the real thing. That's because my Kraft Shake 'n Bake recipe doesn't include beet powder—a hard to find ingredient that lends a red/orange tint to the original. But after you sink your teeth into the chicken baked the same way as described on the Kraft Shake 'N Bake box, you'll swear it's the same stuff. When you're ready to get shaking and baking, use this breading on 2 1/2 pounds of chicken pieces or on 2 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breasts. 

    Now, what side dish will you prepare? 

    Source: Even More Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 4.71 (votes: 7)
    Panda Express Mandarin (Bourbon) Chicken

    Here's a dish from a rapidly growing Chinese food chain that should satisfy anyone who loves the famous marinated bourbon chicken found in food courts across America. The sauce is the whole thing here, and it's quick to make using my Panda Express Mandarin Chicken recipe below. You'll make the sauce right on your stove-top, then fire up the barbecue or indoor grill for the chicken. Then, whip up a little white rice to serve on the side. 

    Panda Express - now 370 restaurants strong - is the fastest-growing Asian food chain in the world. You'll find these tasty little quick-service food outlets in supermarkets, casinos, sports arenas, college campuses, and malls across the country passing out free samples for the asking. 

    You might also want try my Panda Express Honey Walnut Shrimp Recipe.

    Source: "Even More Top Secret Recipes" by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 11)
    Lawry's Taco Spices and Seasonings

    This is my clone recipe for the stuff you buy in 1-ounce packets to create, as the package says, "a fun-filled Mexican fiesta in minutes." Ah, so true. In fact, thanks to Lawry's, my last Mexican fiesta was filled with so much fun that I had to take a siesta. And I promise you just as much fun with my Lawry's Taco Spices and Seasonings recipe below. Maybe even a tad more. Just mix the ingredients together in a small bowl, then add it to 1 pound of browned ground beef along with some water and let it simmer. Before you know it, you'll be up to your nostrils in good old-fashioned, taco-making fun.

    Now, how about a cold margarita? 

    Source: Even More Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 4.80 (votes: 5)
    Heinz Heinz 57

    In the late 1800s Henry John Heinz established the slogan "57 Varieties," which you can still find printed on Heinz products even though the company now boasts over 5700 varieties in 200 countries. Today Heinz is the world's largest tomato producer, but interestingly the first product for the company that was launched in 1869 had nothing to do with tomatoes—it was grated horseradish. It wasn't until 1876 that ketchup was added to the growing company's product line.

    Tomato is also an important ingredient in Heinz 57 steak sauce. But you'll find some interesting ingredients in there as well, such as raisin purée, malt vinegar, apple juice concentrate, and mustard. And don't worry if your version doesn't come out as brown as the original. Heinz uses a little caramel coloring in its product to give it that distinctive tint. It's just for looks though, so I've left that ingredient out of my Heinz 57 recipe. The turmeric and yellow mustard will help tint this version a little bit like the color of the real deal.

    Try my homemade versions of Heinz Ketchup, Mayochup, and Heinz premium chili sauce

    Source: Even More Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 4.43 (votes: 7)
    Planet Hollywood Pot Stickers

    Menu Description: "Six pot stickers filled with fresh ground turkey meat seasoned with ginger, water chestnuts, red pepper and green onions.They are fried and served in a basket with spicy hoisin."

    Pot stickers are a popular Asian dumpling that can be fried, steamed, or simmered in a broth. Planet Hollywood has customized its version to make them crunchier than the traditional dish, and it's a tasty twist. The spicy hoisin sauce is made by adding a little cayenne pepper to store-bought hoisin sauce. Try my Planet Hollywood pot stickers recipe below. I know you'll dig it.

    Source: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 4.75 (votes: 16)
    El Pollo Loco Flame-Broiled Chicken

    El Pollo Loco, or "The Crazy Chicken," has been growing like mad since it crossed over the border into the United States from Mexico. Francisco Ochoa unknowingly started a food phenomenon internacional in 1975 when he took a family recipe for chicken marinade and opened a small roadside restaurante in Gusave, Mexico. He soon had 90 stores in 20 cities throughout Mexico. The first El Pollo Loco in the United States opened in Los Angeles in December 1980 and was an immediate success. It was only three years later that Ochoa got the attention of bigwigs at Dennys, Inc., who offered him $11.3 million for his U.S. operations. Ochoa took the deal, and El Pollo Loco grew from 17 to more than 200 outlets over the following decade.

    Pair my El Pollo Loco Flame Broiled Chicken copycat recipe below with my recipes for their avocado salsa, pinto beans, Spanish rice, and bbq black beans.

    Source: More Top Secret Recipes by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 6)
    Baja Fresh Salsa Baja

    You won't find freezers, can openers, or microwave ovens at this national Mexican food chain. Since 1990 Baja Fresh has been serving up great food, made fresh with each order. As you're waiting for your food to come out, that's when you hit up the salsa bar, where you'll find several varieties of delicious fresh salsa, from hot to mild, ready to be spooned into little tubs that you can take to your table or to your car. One of the most popular selections is called Salsa Baja—its medium spiciness, smoky flavor, and deep black color make the salsa unique and mysterious. That is, until now, since I've got a Top Secret formula for you right here. But the recipe wasn't as easy to create as I first thought. I figured the tomatoes would have to be extremely blackened over a hot grill, but I wasn't sure how to get them dark enough to turn the salsa black without the tomatoes getting all mushy and falling apart on the barbecue.

    So, I went back to Baja Fresh before they opened to peer through the window to see if I could catch some hot salsa production action. I waited and waited. After several hours, as the lunch rush was beginning to wind down and no fresh salsa was in the pipeline, it was time for extreme measures to get things moving. I went in and ordered 30 tubs of Salsa Baja to go, and that did it. I ended up with a big bag filled with 2 gallons of salsa (thankfully they poured those 8-ounce portions into bigger bowls), and the restaurant went immediately into "salsa red alert" to replenished the now-dwindling salsa reserve. It was perfect. As I was grabbing my bag of salsa, a dude come out from the kitchen with a huge box of tomatoes and placed them all on the grill. I ordered a giant Diet Pepsi and parked myself at a close table to watch the process. That's when I discovered the secret. For super-charred tomatoes, they start with firm, chilled tomatoes, that aren't too big or too ripe. I also found out that the tomatoes must start roasting on the grill with the stem-side down. Crafting the rest of my Baja Fresh Salsa Baja copycat recipe was simple...

    Find more cool dips and salsa recipes here.

    Source: Top Secret Recipes Unlocked by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Not rated yet
    The Old Spaghetti Factory Rich Meat Sauce

    Since 1969, The Portland, Oregon-based Old Spaghetti Factory has been filling bellies with a comfort food menu full of fabulous pasta choices, and this signature meat sauce has been the sauce of choice at the 43-unit chain for more than five decades.

    To reverse-engineer the sauce for my Old Spaghetti Factory Rich Meat Sauce copycat recipe, I started by rinsing the original sauce in a wire mesh strainer to see what secrets could be revealed. Once the solids were visible, I noted the size and ratios of ground beef, onion, celery, and garlic, and I also noticed that there were no bits of tomato left behind. This meant the tomato was puréed, but rather than using canned tomato purée, I opted for richer tomato paste. Lemon juice helped match the zing of the original, and I rounded out the flavor with just a bit of sugar.

    This recipe will make 3½ cups of meat sauce, which is enough for several huge plates of pasta. Use it on spaghetti as they do at the restaurant, or whatever pasta shape you prefer.

    Find more copycat recipes for famous sauces here.

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  • Not rated yet
    Manwich Original Sloppy Joe Sandwich

    Loose meat sandwiches were born in Iowa in 1926 when Maid-Rite started selling burgers made with ground beef that isn’t pressed into patties. These sandwiches quickly became a Midwest phenomenon, and they were often served with a spoon to scoop up the loose meat that would inevitably fall out. This dry and crumbly characteristic of the loose meat sandwich might be why, in 1930, a chef named Joe, as legend has it, created a tomato-based sauce, possibly with ketchup, which he mixed into the loose ground beef. Joe’s new sandwich had more flavor than its drier cousin, and the loose meat stayed in the bun.

    Sloppy Joes became a common restaurant and diner menu choice for decades, with the sandwiches selling for as little as 10 cents. In 1969, Hunts brought Sloppy Joes home with the introduction of the first canned Sloppy Joe sauce that, when added to 1 pound of browned ground beef, made enough filling to feed a family of four. It was easy, and it was cheap.

    The original sauce lists corn syrup as the second ingredient, but for my Manwich Sloppy Joe Sauce copycat recipe, I chose to avoid corn syrup and even ketchup and instead built the sauce with ketchup ingredients, including tomato paste, sugar, vinegar, and spices. My version is also easy and cheap and tastes like the real thing, but because it’s fresher, it tastes a little bit better.

    Find more of my copycat recipes for iconic sandwiches here.

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  • Not rated yet
    Taco Bell Red Sauce

    The famous flavor of Taco Bell’s bean burrito, Burrito Supreme, Enchirito, Grilled Cheese Dipping Taco, and a few other popular menu items has a lot to do with the secret mild red sauce added to each of them. You might also call it “enchilada sauce” since it tastes very similar to the stuff you can buy in cans labeled “enchilada sauce.”

    Whatever you call it, this red sauce is a simple combination of tomato purée, vinegar, and spices, and you can clone it with minimal effort. Follow my easy Taco Bell Red Sauce copycat recipe below, and you’ll get one cup of versatile sauce that you can use to enhance all your homemade south-of-the-border dishes.

    If you're a fan of green sauce, check out my Taco Bell Green Sauce copycat recipe in my book "Top Secret Recipes Unleashed".

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 1)
    Legal Sea Foods Signature Crab Cakes

    This 31-unit Boston-based seafood chain got its name from "Legal Cash Market", the grocery store that founder George Berkowitz's father, Harry, opened in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1904. In 1950 George opened a fish market next door to his dad's store and called it "Legal Sea Foods", and eighteen years later it expanded into a thriving restaurant business. In 1986 NBC's Today named Legal Sea Foods "The Best Seafood Restaurant in America." 

    One of the signature dishes at the chain is Legal's Signature Crab Cakes, which are filled with big chunks of lump crab and served with a top secret mustard dipping sauce. My Legal Sea Foods crab cakes recipe below is simple to prepare, as is the sauce. Get your mouth ready.

    Source: Top Secret Recipes Step-by-Step by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Not rated yet
    Legal Sea Foods New England Clam Chowder

    This phenomenal clam chowder, made with lots of fresh littleneck clams, was chosen to represent the state of Massachusetts at the first inauguration of Ronald Reagan in 1981—just a year after first being served at the restaurant—and has been served at every presidential inauguration since. I think it's the best clam chowder you'll get at any casual restaurant chain in America, making it a perfect home clone candidate.

    I could glean only minimal information from servers at Legal Sea Foods in Philly where I first tasted this fantastic chowder. Fortunately, the company has an online seafood store where I could order a quart of the soup—for a whopping 45 bucks with shipping—which provided me with an ingredients list on the package to aid in the hacking. The restaurant has its cookbook, which provides a few more clues, but the recipe there does not produce a soup that is anything like the version in the restaurant. Many of the ingredients I found on the label of the restaurant version are not listed in the cookbook recipe. 

    The real soup includes a little salt pork, which I have replaced here with bacon since such a small amount is used. For the best flavor, you'll want to use fish or seafood stock, which I found at Walmart, but you can substitute with chicken broth if seafood stock is unavailable. My Legal Sea Foods New England Clam Chowder copycat recipe makes over 2 quarts of the soup and will cost you a fraction of what I paid for just a single quart through the company's website. 

    Find my Legal Sea Foods Crab Cakes copycat recipe here.

    Source: Top Secret Recipes Step-by-Step by Todd Wilbur.

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  • Score: 3.00 (votes: 2)
    El Pollo Loco Shredded Beef Birria

    Birria was invented over 400 years ago when an increasing goat population became a problem for residents of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Their solution: eat them.

    But goat meat can be tough and gamey, so a low and slow braising method was developed to make the meat tender and tasty. A broth flavored with chili peppers and spices was combined with the meat in a covered pot which was then buried in the ground with hot coals. Early the next day, the braised birria is ready to eat, which is why the dish became a traditional Mexican breakfast food.

    But customers at El Pollo Loco birria usually have their birria for lunch and dinner. And, while I lack a formal survey, I am nearly positive that everyone is happy that this version isn’t made with goat meat. Instead, my version of El Pollo Loco Shredded Beef Birria is made by braising a 2 to 3 pound chuck roast in a secret combination of peppers and spices for 3 hours, or until your beef is tender enough to shred with a couple forks.

    Strain the braising sauce left in the pan to make the delicious consommé, then use this shredded beef on tacos, burritos, quesadillas, or whatever sounds good. Add some cilantro and chopped onion to the consommé and serve it on the side for dipping, just like they do at the restaurant chain.

    Pair my El Pollo Shredded Beef Birria copycat recipe below with my copycat recipes for El Pollo Loco avocado salsa, pinto beans, Spanish rice, and bbq black beans.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 1)
    Dickey's Barbecue Pit Cabbage Slaw

    Here’s an easy secret recipe for a great coleslaw that’s as good, if not better, than the world-famous cole slaw from KFC (which I hacked here). And making a home copy with this exclusive original secret formula is about as easy as it gets.

    To make my Dickie’s Barbecue Pit coleslaw recipe, you won’t have to mince the cabbage as fine as you would for some of the other clones. For this hack, thin-slice the cabbage first, then give those slices a medium chop and you're good to go. A medium head of cabbage will give you around 8 cups chopped—the perfect amount for this recipe.

    After you mix in the dressing, let the finished slaw sit in your refrigerator for at least an hour so that the flavor develops and improves, and be sure to give it a good stir before you serve it. Your patience will be rewarded.

    For another awesome Dickie's clone, check out my copycat of the chain's original BBQ sauce here.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 1)
    Outback Steakhouse Seared Pepper Ahi Tuna

    For years, Outback Steakhouse's Seared Pepper Ahi, with herb crust and secret ginger soy dipping sauce, has been a top appetizer pick at the nationwide steakhouse chain. Part of the dish’s appeal is the quick turnaround time since the fish is seared, then chilled earlier in the day. When an order comes in, the seared fillet is sliced and arranged on a bed of mixed greens drizzled with wasabi and ginger soy sauce, with extra on the side for dipping, and it’s ready for service.

    For my Outback Steakhouse Seared Pepper Ahi copycat recipe, find the thickest frozen ahi tuna steak you can. Ahi is one of the safest fish to eat raw, but almost all sushi restaurants in the U.S. will freeze their fish first to cleanse it of any unwanted nasties, so frozen is best. You'll want to trim your fillet to around 2” x 3” before it’s completely defrosted and still somewhat firm if you want uniform slices after it's seared.  

    Just as in the restaurant, you can sear your fish earlier in the day, then chill the unsliced fillet. When you’re ready to eat, the dish is prepped in the short time it takes to slice the chilled ahi and plate it.

    Find copycat recipes for more of your favorite Outback dishes here

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  • Not rated yet
    Yard House Miguel's Queso Dip

    If the chef who created this creamy queso dip was willing to put his name on it, you figure it’s got to be good queso. For his hit appetizer, Yard House executive chef Miguel Mata blends three cheeses with roasted poblano pepper and a custom red sauce made with guajillo and chipotle peppers. That tasty sauce, hacked here for the first time, gives the queso its special flavor and heat, and this recipe-within-the-recipe will produce enough sauce for several batches of queso dip, or to use any way you want. Yard House serves the killer red sauce on this queso and on their chicken nachos.

    To make my Miguel’s Queso Dip copycat recipe you'll need Velveeta queso blanco, a white cheese that melts easily in your microwave or on the stove. After loading the melted queso blanco into a shallow dish with the poblano and secret red sauce, top it with shredded pepper Jack and cheddar, broil until bubbly, and serve with corn tortilla chips and flour tortillas on the side for dipping.

    This dip might make you thirsty. In that case, you can find some of my famous cocktail recipes here.

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  • Score: 5.00 (votes: 1)
    El Pollo Loco Homemade Tortilla Soup

    Packed with tender chicken and vegetables, my El Pollo Loco Homemade Tortilla Soup copycat recipe is just like the original, which happens to be one of the most wholesome tortilla soups I’ve ever hacked.

    And the technique here is ultra-easy since you use chicken pulled from a supermarket rotisserie chicken, which is a good thing for a couple of reasons. You don’t have to cook the chicken, so you save time. And, since rotisserie chickens usually cost less than a whole uncooked chicken, you’re saving money, too. One 2-pound rotisserie chicken will give you around 1 pound of white and dark chicken meat, which will be perfect for this recipe.  

    Most of your time will be spent chopping the celery, carrot, and peppers, then it’s just a simple matter of sautéing the vegetables until soft and adding the remaining ingredients. Once the soup is hot, serve it topped with crispy tortilla strips, cotija cheese, and cilantro, and pass out the spoons.

    Find more famous El Pollo Loco recipes here.

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  • Not rated yet
    Rao's Homemade Bolognese Sauce

    The family recipes of Rao’s Italian restaurant have been enjoyed for over 125 years, but it’s only been since 1992 (starting with the marinara sauce) that the chain has been selling the ultra-popular bottled sauces under the Rao’s Homemade label, which is on track to become a billion-dollar company.

    One of the many popular sauces now available from Rao’s Homemade is the Bolognese sauce, a blend of tomatoes, veggies, crumbled meatballs, and pancetta. Like my Rao’s Marinara Sauce clone recipe, this hack starts with canned San Marzano tomatoes with the famous red, white, and green San Marzano label. Those are true San Marzano tomatoes grown in the San Marzano region of Italy, and they are superior to other San Marzano-style canned tomatoes in my local grocery stores, many of which aren’t from Italy.

    I would suspect that the meatballs crumbled into Rao’s Bolognese sauce are the famous Rao’s meatballs, which Rao’s sells in the restaurants and frozen food aisles, and which I hacked here. For my Rao’s Bolognese Sauce recipe, you’ll need ½ cup of crumbled meatballs using either this top secret recipe, or a bag of frozen Italian meatballs found in most stores. Obviously, my Rao’s meatball hack will give you the best ingredients for this recipe, but I found that the frozen meatballs still work great, as long as they’re good meatballs. This sauce will only be as good as the meatballs you choose.

    The slow simmer marries the flavors, and after about an hour you’ll have a great Bolognese to spoon over tagliatelle, tortellini, gnocchi, or whatever you want.

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I'm Todd Wilbur, Chronic Food Hacker

For over 30 years I've been deconstructing America's most iconic brand-name foods to make the best original copycat recipes for you to use at home. Welcome to my lab.

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