The Texican's Famous Chile-con-Queso Recipe
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Chile-con-Queso has morphed from tradtional Mexican white cheese and rajas (sauteed green chiles and onions) or chorizo to a full blown Tex-Mex version made with trusty Velveeta cheese. In an effort to create a happy medium between tradition and my Tex-Mex upbringing, I've designed a recipe that's truly the best of both worlds.
- 2 tablespoons corn oil
- 3/4 cup chopped white onion
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Four 4-ounce cans of chopped green chiles
- 1/8 cup finely chopped cilantro
- Pinch of garlic powder
- 1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth
- 3/4 cup crushed tomatoes, preferably Rotel
- 4 ounces medium sharp cheddar cheese, cubed
- 16 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, cubed
- 4 ounces cream cheese
- 2 pounds Velveeta cheese, cubed
- 1/2 cup canned evaporated milk
In a large cooking pot, add 2 tablespoons of corn oil and allow to warm for 2 minutes over medium heat. Drop 3/4 cup of chopped white onion into the pot and stir frequently until they become almost translucent. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Next, add the green chiles, cilantro, pinch of garlic powder, chicken or vegetable broth and crushed tomatoes.
Stir ingredients together then place lid 3/4 of the way shut over the pot. Simmer on low heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then, remove lid and add all cheeses and canned milk. Turn heat back up to medium and stir frequently until all cheese is melted. Season to taste.
Serve with tortilla chips, Fritos, or fresh tortillas and enjoy!
Note: Recipe can be made in advance and actually tastes better if made 24 hours in advance of serving. Prior to refrigerating, let chile-con-queso cool to a luke-warm, which could take approximately one hour.
- ¼ cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 cup cooked and peeled whole crawfish tails, chopped, plus more for garnish
- 8 ounces white American cheese, cubed
- 8 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, cubed
- 1 (4 ounce) can diced green chiles
- 1 teaspoon Creole seasoning (such as Tony Chachere's®), or more to taste
- 1 sprig fresh cilantro
Pour heavy cream into a deep skillet over low heat. Add crawfish tails, American cheese, Monterey Jack cheese, green chiles, and Creole seasoning. Cook, stirring every 2 minutes, until cheese is melted, about 15 minutes.
Pour queso into a warm bowl. Garnish with cilantro and a few pieces of crawfish tails. Continue to stir queso every 5 to 10 minutes to prevent the cheese from solidifying on top.
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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.
Whip out the food processor and fire up the grill because you'll need these essential tools to clone one of the best restaurant salsas in the business. The key to recreating the flavor of the real deal is to fire roast the tomatoes and the jalapenos, and to add a little mesquite-flavored liquid smoke. The restaurant chain uses a mesquite grill, so these steps are crucial to getting the same smoky flavor as the popular restaurant version. Chevys uses chipotle peppers, which are smoked red jalapenos. But unless you grow your own jalapenos, it may be difficult to find the riper red variety in your local supermarket. For this recipe, the green jalapeno peppers will work fine if you can't find the red ones. Adjust the number of jalapenos you use based on the size of the peppers that are available: if you have big jalapenos you need only 6, and you'll need around 10 if your peppers are small.
Check out my recipes for Chevy's flan, chili con queso, and more here.
Serving size–2 tablespoons
Calories per serving–10
Fat per serving–0g
This 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 Chili's salsa recipe heat level to suit your taste by tweaking the amount of canned jalapeños in the mix.
Now, what's for dinner? Check out some copycat entrees from your favorite restaurants here.
Menu Description: "It takes half a day to make this perfect combination of onion, celery, carrot and garlic."
Before a skilled chef appears tableside to perform his culinary prestidigitation on the hot hibachi grill at Benihana, you're treated to a tasty bowl of chicken broth-based soup with fried onions, sliced mushrooms and green onions floating cheerfully on top. The restaurant menu claims this soup takes a half a day to make, but we can clone it in a fraction of that time using canned chicken broth (I use Swanson brand). This soup works great as a prelude to your favorite Asian dishes or other Benihana clones since it's so light and won't fill up anyone before the main course. I've included a simple technique here for making the breaded fried onions from scratch (for the most accurate clone), but you can skip that step by substituting French's canned French Fried Onions that are sold in most markets.
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. The rest was simple.
The talented chefs at Benihana cook food on hibachi grills with flair and charisma, treating the preparation like a tiny stage show. They juggle salt and pepper shakers, trim food with lightning speed, and flip the shrimp and mushrooms perfectly onto serving plates or into their tall chef's hat.
One of the side dishes that everyone seems to love is the fried rice. At Benihana this dish is prepared by chefs with precooked rice on open hibachi grills, and is ordered a la cart to complement any Benihana entree, including Hibachi Steak and Chicken. I like when the rice is thrown onto the hot hibachi grill and seems to come alive as it sizzles and dances around like a bunch of little jumping beans. Okay, so I'm easily amused.
This Benihana Japanese fried rice recipe will go well with just about any Japanese entree and can be partially prepared ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator until the rest of the meal is close to done.
The easy-melting, individually-wrapped Kraft Cheddar Singles are a perfect secret ingredient for this Panera Bread broccoli cheddar soup recipe that's served at this top soup stop. In this clone, fresh broccoli is first steamed, then diced into little bits before you combine it with chicken broth, half-and-half, shredded carrot, and onion. Now you're just 30 minutes away from soup spoon go-time.
Click here for more of my copycat Panera Bread recipes.
Menu Description: "Here they are in all their lip-smacking, award-winning glory: Buffalo, New York-style chicken wings spun in your favorite signature sauce."
Since Buffalo, New York was too far away, Jim Disbrow and Scott Lowery satisfied their overwhelming craving in 1981 by opening a spicy chicken wing restaurant close to home in Kent, Ohio. With signature sauces and a festive atmosphere, the chain has now evolved from a college campus sports bar with wings to a family restaurant with over 300 units. While frying chicken wings is no real secret—simply drop them in hot shortening for about 10 minutes—the delicious spicy sauces make the wings special. There are 12 varieties of sauce available to coat your crispy chicken parts at the chain, and I'm presenting clones for the more traditional flavors. These sauces are very thick, almost like dressing or dip, so we'll use an emulsifying technique that will ensure a creamy final product where the oil won't separate from the other ingredients. Here is the chicken wing cooking and coating technique, followed by clones for the most popular sauces: Spicy Garlic, Medium and Hot. The sauce recipes might look the same at first, but each has slight variations make your sauce hotter or milder by adjusting the level of cayenne pepper. You can find Frank's pepper sauce by the other hot sauces in your market. If you can't find that brand, you can also use Crystal Louisiana hot sauce.
Menu Description: "Our appetizing cheese dip with seasoned beef. Served with warm tostada chips."
Take your chips for a dip in this top-secret Chili's skillet queso copycat recipe that comes to your table in a small cast iron skillet along with a big bowl of tortilla chips. A popular recipe that's been circulating calls for combining Velveeta with Hormel no-bean chili. Sure, it's a good start, but there's more to Chili's spicy cheese dip than that. Toss a few other ingredients into the saucepan and after about 20 minutes you'll have a great dip for picnic, party, or game time.
Now, what's for dinner? Check out my other Chili's copycat recipes here.
This soup happens to be one of Chili's most raved-about items, and the subject of many a recipe search here on the site. Part of the secret in crafting your clone is the addition of masa harina—a corn flour that you'll find in your supermarket near the other flours, or where all the Mexican foodstuffs are stocked.
Popeyes Famous Fried Chicken and Biscuits has become the third-largest quick-service chicken chain in the world in the twenty-two years since its first store opened in New Orleans in 1972. (KFC has the number-one slot, followed by Church's Chicken). Since then, the chain has grown to 813 units, with many of them overseas in Germany, Japan, Jamaica, Honduras, Guam, and Korea.
Cayenne pepper and white pepper bring the heat to this crispy fried chicken hack.
Did you like this recipe? Get your hands on my secret recipe for Popeyes Chicken Sandwich and other Popeyes dishes here.
Other Mexican food chains such as Chi-Chi's and El Torito call it "Sweet Corn Cake." But at Chevys, the corn-filled, pudding-like stuff that's served with most entrees is known as "Tomalito." That masa harina in there corn flour is what's used to make tamales, and it can be found in your supermarket either with the corn meal and flour, or where the other Mexican/Spanish items are stocked. Everything else here is basic stuff. While other corn cake recipes may require canned corn or canned cream-style corn, Chevys "no cans in the kitchen" commandment requires that we use frozen corn for a proper clone. You may also use corn that's been cut fresh from the cob.
Everyone hip on Subway's sandwiches knows the key to cloning the flavor of many of the chain's top-sellers is in hacking the secret sauces. For example, Subway's Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki Sandwich is pretty bland without the ground chipotle chile in the spice section of your market. McCormick makes good stuff.
The little red packets of viscous hot sauce at the fast food giant have a cult following of rabid fans who will do whatever it takes to get their hands on large quantities. One such fan of the sauce commented online, "Are there any Wendy's employees or managers out there who will mail me an entire case of Hot Chili Seasoning? I swear this is not a joke. I love the stuff. I tip extra cash to Wendy's workers to get big handfuls of the stuff." Well, there's really no need to tip any Wendy's employees, because now you can clone as much of the spicy sauce as you want in your own kitchen with this Top Secret Recipe.
The ingredients listed on the real Hot Chili Seasoning are water, corn syrup, salt, distilled vinegar, natural flavors, xanthan gum, and extractives of paprika. We'll use many of those same ingredients for our clone, but we'll substitute gelatin for the xanthan gum (a thickener) to get the slightly gooey consistency right. For the natural flavor and color we'll use cayenne pepper, cumin, paprika, and garlic powder, then filter the particles out with a fine wire-mesh strainer after they've contributed what the sauce needs.
This recipe makes 5 ounces of sauce— just the right amount to fit nicely into a used hot sauce bottle—and costs just pennies to make.
Menu Description: "Lots of fresh ground beef and red kidney beans with a perfect blend of fresh Poblano & Chipotle peppers and plenty of seasoning. Topped with Cheddar cheese, diced red onions and tortilla strips. Not too hot, but enough flavor to know you ate it."
Ah yes, nothing like a hot bowl of homemade chili on a cool day. Red Robin serves hot, chunky chili topped with cheddar cheese, onions and crunchy tortilla strips that'll warm your soul. The Top Secret Recipes hack here can be served up the same fashion, or you can use this chili as they do in the restaurant to top homemade nachos or an open-faced chili cheeseburger. If you're one of those who prefer a higher-octane, spicier chili, just use more canned chipotles, or add some of the delicious adobo sauce that's in the can with the chilies.
Do you love Red Robin? Find more cool copycats here.
Menu Description: "Quickly-cooked steak with scallions and garlic."
Beef lovers go crazy over this one at the restaurant. Flank steak is cut into bite-sized chunks against the grain, then it's lightly dusted with potato starch (in our case we'll use cornstarch), 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 this recipe to use a wok, but if you don't have one a saute 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 a lot of the best dishes from P.F. Chang's. Click here to see if I coped your favorite.
Sliced chicken breast, romaine lettuce, pico de gallo, tortilla strips, and cotija cheese make up El Pollo Loco's Caesar Salad, but it is the fantastic creamy cilantro dressing recipe that gets the raves. Simply combine these basic ingredients in a blender and you'll soon have more than one cup of the delicious dressing cloned and ready to pour over any of your home salad creations.
You can also make El Pollo Loco Flame Broiled Chicken, pinto beans, Spanish rice and more. Find my copycat recipes here.
Abiding by this large Mexican food chain's "no cans in the kitchen" edict, we'll craft our clone of the delicious flan dessert with fresh whole milk, rather than canned sweetened condensed milk required by most flan recipes out there. The canned stuff has a bit of a funky taste to it anyway, plus it's much too sweet to be an accurate Chevys knockoff. When you're ready to clone this one, be sure to get some parchment paper. When laid over the top of the baking pan, the parchment paper helps the flan cook faster and more evenly than if left uncovered. Aluminum foil doesn't seem to work as well since it tends to reflect the heat away from the ramekins of sweet, creamy goodness.
This quickly growing chicken wing chain sells each of its 12 signature sauces in the restaurant because many of them work great as a baste or side sauce for a variety of home cooked masterpieces. This Buffalo Wild Wings Caribbean Jerk sauce recipe is a favorite for that reason (ranking at the top of the list with Spicy Garlic as the chain's best-seller), so I thought it would be a useful clone that doesn't require you to fill up the fryer to make chicken wings. You can use this sauce on grilled chicken, pork, ribs, salmon or anything you can think of that would benefit from the sweet, sour and spicy flavors that come from an island-style baste.
Menu Description: "Sweet meets heat: A chili pepper, soy and ginger sauce."
Here's a clone for one of the newer sauces that the wing masters at Buffalo Wild Wings added to the menu. When I get over to BWW, I order up a tall Foster's on tap, and 12 boneless wings covered in this great sauce. It's sweet-and-sour with a kick, and the kick is what the beer's for. Next time you're at the market grab yourself some chili garlic sauce in the aisle with the other Asian foods. That's the crucial ingredient to this Buffalo Wild Wings Asian Zing Sauce recipe that gives this sauce its heat, along with its deep red color. Once this sauce is made it'll store for weeks in a sealed container in your fridge. Now you've got a quick dip for eggrolls, wontons and spring rolls. Cook up some wings, nuggets or breaded tenders and toss 'em in the gooey goodness until well-coated, then serve hot. And don't forget the beer.
Before diving into a juicy steak, many diners start their meal with this dish, the number one appetizer at Fleming's Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar. This small Cajun-style scampi appetizer requires four large shrimp, just as in the original dish, but you can bump that up to 6 shrimp for a slightly bigger serving.
Menu Description: "Spicy, shredded beef, braised with our own chipotle adobo, cumin, cloves, garlic and oregano."
The original Mexican dish barbacoa was traditionally prepared by cooking almost any kind of meat goat, fish, chicken, or cow cheek meat, to name just a few, in a pit covered with leaves over low heat for many hours, until tender. When the dish made its way into the United States via Texas the word transformed into "barbecue" and the preparation changed to incorporate above-ground techniques such as smoking and grilling. The good news is that we can recreate the beef barbacoa that Chipotle has made popular on its ginormous burritos without digging any holes in our backyard or tracking down a local source for fresh cow faces. After braising about 30 pounds of chuck roasts, I finally discovered the perfect Chipotle Mexican Grill barbacoa burrito copycat recipe with a taste-alike adobo sauce that fills your roast with flavor as it slowly cooks to a fork-tender delicacy on your stovetop over 5 to 6 hours. Part of the secret for great adobo sauce is toasting whole cumin seeds and cloves and then grinding them in a coffee grinder (measure the spices after grinding them). Since the braising process takes so long, start early in the day and get ready for a big dinner, because I've also included clones here for Chipotle's pico de gallo, pinto beans, and delicious cilantro-lime rice to make your burritos complete. You can add your choice of cheese, plus guacamole and sour cream for a super-deluxe clone version. If you prefer chicken burritos, head on over to my clone recipe for Qdoba Grilled Adobo Chicken.
The first Auntie Anne's pretzel store opened in 1988 in the heart of pretzel country—a Pennsylvanian Amish farmers' market. Over 500 stores later, Auntie Anne's is one of the most requested secret clone recipes around, especially on the internet. Many of the copycat Auntie Anne's soft pretzel recipes passed around the Web require bread flour, and some use honey as a sweetener. But by studying the Auntie Anne's home pretzel-making kit in the secret underground laboratory, I've discovered a better solution for re-creating the delicious mall treats than any clone recipe out there. For the best quality dough, you just need all-purpose flour. And powdered sugar works great to perfectly sweeten the dough. Now you just have to decide if you want to make the more traditional salted pretzels, or the sweet cinnamon sugar-coated kind. Decisions, decisions.
There's no chocolate in it. Or coffee. Or Coca-Cola. The ingredient rumors for the Skyline Chili secret recipe are plentiful on the Internet, but anyone can purchase cans of Skyline chili from the company and find the ingredients listed right on the label: beef, water, tomato paste, dried torula yeast, salt, spices, cornstarch, and natural flavors. You can trust that if chocolate were included in the secret recipe, the label would reflect it—important information for people with a chocolate allergy. All it takes to recreate the unique flavor of Skyline is a special blend of easy-to-find spices plus beef broth and a few other not-so-unusual ingredients. Let the chili simmer for an hour or so, then serve it up on its own or in one of the traditional Cincinnati-style serving suggestions (the "ways" they call 'em) with the chili poured over spaghetti noodles, topped with grated Cheddar cheese and other good stuff:
3-Way: Pour chili over cooked spaghetti noodles and top with grated Cheddar cheese.
4-Way: Add a couple teaspoons of grated onion before adding the cheese.
5-Way: Add cooked red beans over the onions before adding the cheese.
If you're a fan of this hearty dish, you may also like my clone recipes for other popular soups and chilis here.
The biggest difference I find with this copycat Panera french onion soup formula versus other onion soup recipes is the inclusion of a small, almost undetectable, bit of tomato sauce. But rather than opening up a whole can of tomato sauce to use just 1 tablespoon in this home kitchen copy, I found that a squirt of ketchup works perfectly. Panera Bread also makes their soup with just a bit of heat, so we'll add a little Tabasco pepper sauce to the pot to wake everything up. The croutons on top of the soup appear to be made from the chain's focaccia bread that has been buttered, cubed, and toasted until crispy, but you can use any bread you may have on hand. As for the cheese on top, the menu says it's Asiago-Parmesan, but the cheese I tasted was more Asiago than Parmesan, so you'll need to use only Asiago cheese (that's been shaved using a potato peeler) for a great clone.
They're the world's most famous French fries, responsible for one-third of all U.S. French fry sales, and many say they're the best. These fried spud strips are so popular that Burger King even changed its own recipe to better compete with the secret formula from Mickey D's. One-quarter of all meals served today in American restaurants come with fries a fact that thrills restaurateurs since fries are the most profitable menu item in the food industry. Proper preparation steps were developed by McDonald's to minimize in-store preparation time, while producing a fry that is soft on the inside and crispy on the outside. This clone requires a two-step frying process to replicate the same qualities: the fries are par-fried, frozen, then fried once more to crispy just before serving. Be sure to use a slicer to cut the fries for a consistent thickness (1/4-inch is perfect) and for a cooking result that will make them just like the real thing. As for the rumor that you must soak the fries in sugar water to help them turn golden brown, I also found that not to be necessary. If the potatoes have properly developed they contain enough sugar on their own to make a good clone with great color.
Now, how about a Big Mac or Quarter Pounder to go with those fries? Click here for a list of all my McDonald's copycat recipes.
Dave Thomas, Wendy's late founder, started serving this chili in 1969, the year the first Wendy's opened its doors. Over the years the recipe has changed a bit, but this Wendy's copycat chili recipe is a great version of the one served in the early 90s. Try topping it with some chopped onion and Cheddar cheese, just as you can request in the restaurant.
Now, on to the Wendy's Hot Chili Seasoning copycat recipe.
Menu Description: "Delicate white cake and lemon cream filling with a vanilla crumb topping."
To make this clone easy I've designed the recipe with white cake mix. I picked Betty Crocker brand, but any white cake mix you find will do. Just know that each brand (Duncan Hines, Pillsbury, etc.) requires slightly different measurements of additional ingredients (oil, eggs). Follow the directions on the box for mixing the batter, then pour it into 2 greased 9-inch cake pans and bake until done. The filling recipe is a no-brainer and the crumb topping is quick. When your Olive Garden lemon cream cake recipe is assembled, stick it in the fridge for a few hours, and soon you'll be ready to serve 12 slices of the hacked signature dessert.
In Zagat's 1995 New York City Restaurant Survey, Le Cirque 2000, one of the city's most upscale restaurants, received a 25 rating out of a possible 30. In the same guide, Al "The Soup Nazi" Yeganeh's Soup Kitchen International scored an impressive 27. That put the Soup Nazi's eatery in 14th place among the city's best restaurants for that year.
It was common to see lines stretching around the corner and down the block as hungry patrons waited for their cup of one of five daily hot soup selections. Most of the selections changed every day, but of the three days that I was there, the Mexican Chicken Chili recipe was always on the menu. The first two days it was sold out before I got to the front of the line. But on the last day I got lucky: "One extra-large Mexican Chicken Chili, please." Hand over money, move to the extreme left.
Here is a hack for what has become one of the Soup Nazi's most popular culinary masterpieces. If you like, you can substitute turkey breast for the chicken to make turkey chili, which was the soup George Costanza ordered on the show.
Update 1/9/17: Replace the 10 cups of water with 8 cups of chicken broth for a shorter simmer time and better flavor. I also like using El Pato tomato sauce (recipe calls for 1/2 cup) for a bit more heat.
Menu Description: "Spicy, shredded beef, braised with our own chipotle adobo, cumin, cloves, garlic and oregano."
The original Mexican dish barbacoa was traditionally prepared by cooking almost any kind of meat goat, fish, chicken, or cow cheek meat, to name just a few, in a pit covered with leaves over low heat for many hours, until tender. When the dish made its way into the United States via Texas the word transformed into "barbecue" and the preparation changed to incorporate above-ground techniques such as smoking and grilling. The good news is that we can recreate the beef barbacoa that Chipotle has made popular on its ginormous burritos without digging any holes in our backyard or tracking down a local source for fresh cow faces. After braising about 30 pounds of chuck roasts, I finally discovered the perfect clone with a taste-alike adobo sauce that fills your roast with flavor as it slowly cooks to a fork-tender delicacy on your stovetop over 5 to 6 hours. Part of the secret for great adobo sauce is toasting whole cumin seeds and cloves and then grinding them in a coffee grinder (measure the spices after grinding them). Since the braising process takes so long, start early in the day and get ready for a big dinner, because I've also included clones here for Chipotle's pico de gallo, pinto beans, and delicious cilantro-lime rice to make your burritos complete. You can add your choice of cheese, plus guacamole and sour cream for a super-deluxe clone version.
Menu Description: "Roasted garlic and Parmesan sauce with Italian herbs."
Buffalo Wild Wings had a record day on Super Bowl Sunday 2007 when the chain sold 3.4 million wings! One year later the chain announced the opening of its 500 th store. As the biggest buffalo wing chain in the country continues to grow, so does its selection of delicious sauces. Creamy, and slightly spicy, this Parmesan Garlic Sauce is one of several new sauces BWW added to its menu. Our Top Secret clone starts by roasting a few peeled garlic cloves in your oven. Add mayo and Parmesan cheese to the soft, roasted garlic, plus some corn syrup, lemon juice, red pepper flakes and an assortment of dried herbs and you've got yourself an addictive sauce that's as good on finger food as it is on a salad. Bake up some breaded chicken nuggets or fry up some wings, then simply toss 'em in some of this delicious sauce and serve.
In the early 90's Boston Chicken was rockin' it. The home meal replacement chain's stock was soaring and the lines were filled with hungry customers waiting to sink their teeth into a serving of the chain's delicious rotisserie chicken. So successful was the chain with chicken, that the company quickly decided it was time to introduce other entree selections, the first of which was a delicious barbecue sauce-covered ground sirloin meatloaf. But offering the other entrees presented the company with a dilemma: what to do about the name. The bigwigs decided it was time to change the name to Boston Market, to reflect a wider menu. That meant replacing signs on hundreds of units and retooling the marketing campaigns. That name change, plus rapid expansion of the chain and growth of other similar home-style meal concepts sent the company into a tailspin. By 1988, Boston Market's goose was cooked, and the company filed for bankruptcy. Soon McDonald's stepped in to purchase the company, with the idea of closing many of the stores for good, and slapping Golden Arches on the rest. But that plan was scrapped when, after selling many of the under-performing Boston Markets, the chain began to fly once again. Within a year of the acquisition Boston Market was profitable, and those meals with the home-cooked taste are still being served at over 700 Boston Market restaurants across the country.
How about some of those famous Boston Market side-dishes to go with your copycat meatloaf recipe? I've cloned all the best ones here.
Menu Description: "Fresh vegetables, beans and pasta in a light tomato broth—a vegetarian classic."
This copycat Olive Garden minestrone soup recipe is jam-packed with beans, zucchini, onion, tomatoes, carrots, pasta, and spices but O.G.'s secret formula doesn't include chicken broth. Canned vegetable broth found in the soup aisle of most markets works as a base here in this secret formula that bursts with flavor as a purely vegetarian dish.
Check out my other Olive Garden copycat recipes here.
Arthur Simms was in the restaurant business for many years before he opened the first Mimi's Cafe with his son, Tom, in Anaheim, California in 1978. Back in the Golden Age of Hollywood Arthur was the guy running things in the MGM Studios commissary where, on any given day, Jean Harlow, Clark Gable and Judy Garland might stop in for a grazing. Arthur named his New Orleans-influenced, bistro-style restaurant after a woman he met and fell in love with in Paris during the war. Today it's Tom who runs the show at this growing 93-unit chain where regulars return for the staple favorites including the French Market Onion Soup, Carrot Raisin Bread and the delicious corn chowder, cloned right here.
Hope your crew is hungry because this recipe makes four Mexican Pizzas like those served at the Bell: seasoned ground beef and refried beans are sandwiched between two crispy flour tortillas, topped with melted cheddar cheese, salsa, diced tomato, and chopped green onion. Slice it like a pizza and serve it with a smile. Prepare to blow your diners away with this Taco Bell Mexican pizza recipe if they're at all familiar with the real thing.
Try some Diablo, hot, or mild sauce for that authentic Taco Bell experience.
The real version of this chili sauce comes to each Wienerschnitzel unit as concentrated brown goo in big 6-pound, 12-ounce cans. After adding 64 ounces of water and 15 chopped hamburger patties the stuff is transformed into the familiar thick and spicy chili sauce dolloped over hot dogs and French fries at America's largest hot dog chain. The proper proportion of spices, tomato paste, and meat is crucial but the real challenge in hacking this recipe is finding a common grocery store equivalent for modified food starch that's used in the real chili sauce as a thickener. After a couple days in the underground lab with Starbucks lattes on intravenous drip, I came out, squinting at the bright sunshine, with a solution to the chili conundrum. This secret combination of cornstarch and Wondra flour and plenty of salt and chili powder makes a chili sauce that says nothing but "Wienerschnitzel" all over it.
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For more than 30 years, Todd Wilbur has been obsessed with reverse-engineering famous foods. Using every day ingredients to replicate signature restaurant dishes at home, Todd shares his delectable discoveries with readers everywhere.
Now, his super-sleuthing taste buds are back to work in the third installment of his mega-bestselling Top Secret Restaurant Recipes series, with 150 sensational new recipes that unlock the delicious formulas for re-creating your favorite dishes from America's most popular restaurant chains. Todd's top secret blueprints and simple step-by-step instructions guarantee great success for even novice cooks. And when preparing these amazing taste-alike dishes at home, you'll be paying up to 75 percent less than eating out!
Find out how to make your own home versions of: Pizza Hut Pan Pizza, T.G.I. Friday's Crispy Green Bean Fries, Buca di Beppo Chicken Limone, Serendipity 3 Frrrozen Hot Chocolate, P.F. Chang's Kung Pao Chicken, Max & Erma's Tortilla Soup, Cracker Barrel Double Chocolate Fudge Coca-Cola Cake, Olive Garden Breadsticks, Cheesecake Factory Fresh Banana Cream Cheesecake, Carrabba's Chicken Bryan, Famous Dave's Corn Muffins, Outback Steakhouse Chocolate Thunder from Down Under, T.G.I. Friday's Jack Daniel's Glazed Ribs, and much, much more.
Simple. Foolproof. Easy to Prepare. And so delicious you'll swear it's the real thing!
Lady Bird Johnson's Chile con Queso
2 (10-ounce) cans diced tomatoes with green chiles, with juice
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 (1-pound) brick processed cheese or aged cheddar cheese, cubed (see Note)
In a medium saucepan, stir together the tomatoes, onion, garlic, chili powder, cumin and oregano. Bring to a boil, turn down the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the mixture has reduced to a paste, about 10 minutes. Add the cheese and cook, stirring, until the cheese has melted. If the queso is too thick, thin it with the milk. Taste and add salt if needed.
Transfer the queso to a serving bowl, a small slow cooker or a chafing dish over a flame. Serve with tortilla chips. Makes 8 servings.
Note: This recipe appeared in The Washington Post in 1964, calling for aged cheddar. Fain tested the recipe and was not pleased. The whole thing works better with Velveeta, she says.
SOURCE: Queso! by Lisa Fain
PER SERVING: 192 calories, 8 g fat (5 g sat fat), 10 mg cholesterol, 925 mg sodium, 15 g carbohydrates, 1 g fiber, 7 g sugar, 9 g protein
Heat oil in a large skillet over high. Cook beef, breaking up with a spoon, until browned on all sides but not completely cooked through, 6–8 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl, leaving as much fat in pan as possible.
Reduce heat to medium and cook onion, bell pepper, and garlic, stirring, until tender but not browned, 6–8 minutes season with salt and pepper. Add cumin and chili powder and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add chicken stock and reserved beef along with any accumulated juices to pan. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring and scraping up any brown bits from the skillet, until liquid is evaporated, 8–10 minutes season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a medium bowl, cover, let sit until ready to use.
Do Ahead: Picadillo can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Reheat before assembling.
Queso and Assembly
Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook onion, chile, jalapeños, and garlic, stirring, until tender but not browned, 8–10 minutes. Add tomatoes, season with salt, and continue to cook until juices have evaporated, about 6 minutes. Stir in flour and cook until incorporated, about 1 minute. Whisk in milk and continue to cook until mixture comes to a boil and thickens, about 4 minutes. Reduce heat to low, gradually add both cheeses, and cook, stirring constantly, until cheese is completely melted and queso is smooth. If it seems too thick, stir in a little more milk.
Spread warm picadillo in a 2-qt. baking dish. Pour hot queso over meat. Top with a generous scoop each of pico de gallo, guacamole, and sour cream. Sprinkle with chives and cilantro. Serve hot dip with chips.
Do Ahead: Queso can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Reheat before assembling.
How would you rate Bob Armstrong Chile con Queso?
This recipe is a HOT AXX MESS. Was super pumped to make it but you could achieve the output by reordering a few things around. Also, I did some research and it seems leveraging a little cornstarch might make all the difference.
Living in Austin we eat A LOT of Bob Armstrong at Matt's. I wanted to re-create the magic while traveling so I tried this recipe. Not even close. While the picadillo was actually tasty, the queso was way off in both taste and consistency. I have since found Matt's Martinez's cookbook where he actually published the restaurant's queso recipe. So I am not sure it's wise of BA to publish a recipe claiming it is the Bob Armstrong queso when it's in fact not the same recipe. Bottom line, I will make the picadillo again but when it comes to the queso, I will either make the actual Matt's restaurant recipe or stick with good ole Velveeta and Rotel. No shame in that!
If you have never had Bob Armstrong dip at Matt's El Rancho, this dish is fine. If you have had a Bob, you will know this is not even close in flavor or texture. And where did the sour cream come from? That isn't the way Matt's serves it. This recipe was time consuming and disappointing for someone hoping for a great imposter recipe.
I cannot understand the negative reviews. This doesn't compare to anything you can find in a grocery store. Use the ingredients listed (someone mentioned using mozz when it calls for Monterey Jack), and follow the recipe as outlined. to your preference. I cooked beef a bit longer than called for and developed a crispier texture. Does this take some time? Yes, but the fruits of labor were absolutely worth the time invested. Delicious recipe. Thanks!
Like most "Tex-Mex" dishes this was meticulously inoffensive, but woefully underseasoned despite all the peppers. The faux-"picadillo" takes forever to make, then another forever to boil off a cup of chicken broth. Result: soggy meat where crispness would add texture and undoubtedly taste better. "Queso" depends a lot on the actual cheeses added to the vegetable roux mozz + cheddar didn't melt well and tasted gritty, not creamy. (There's a reason that Velveeta is so popular.) Layering did work, sort of, but the uniform textures top and bottom meant it might have well been mixed. Bottom line: Looked good and glad I tried it, but next time I'll stick to my regular meat and cheese mix.
What's NOT to love?! Can this be done in the crockpot, so it stays hot for the duration of a party?
I have eaten this in the restaurant a couple of times and also made it using this recipe and I have to disagree with the previous reviewer. It is far from underwhelming, the standard velveeta and Rotel would be that. This queso is not that. I use fresh grass fed beef and it is does not disappoint. Be careful not to overcook/scald milk. This recipe makes a lot but I often make 1/2 when just cooking for myself.
Made this today for my family - they all agree the recipe is a keeper! Very tasty and not to hard to make.
This was very underwhelming for the amount of time spent preparing. I could have spent less money on a more flavorful, more nutritious pre-made dip at a grocery store.
Now you can eat LBJ's famous fattening chile con queso
Entree price: $-$
Where: 9902 Interstate 45 S.
Read Alison Cook's review of Habanera & the Gringo.
Pictured above: chicken and cheese enchiladas, served with Anaheim chile sauce and a Oaxacan crema and avocado
10 of 21 Irma's Original
Entree price: $
Where: 22 N. Chenevert
Read Alison Cook's review of Irma's Original.
Pictured above: Carne guisada
11 of 21 Lupita's Mexican Restaurant
Entree price: $-$
Where: 3121 Texas 6 S., Sugar Land
Read Alison Cook's review of Lupita's Mexican Restaurant.
Pictured above: Green chicken enchiladas
13 of 21 Original Ninfa's on Navigation
Entree price: $-$$
Where: 2704 Navigation
Read Alison Cook's review of the Original Ninfa's on Navigation.
Pictured above: Huachinango Borracho, roasted red snapper
14 of 21 Pico's
Entree price: $-$$
Where: 3601 Kirby
Read Alison Cook's review of Picos.
Pictured above: tamales
16 of 21 Pollo Bravo
Entree price: $
Where/phone: 6015 Hillcroft, 713-541-0069 10434 Richmond, 713-278-0801 10085 Long Point, 713-461-3113
Read Alison Cook's review of Pollo Bravo.
Pictured above: Chicken taquitos
J. Patric Schneider/Freelance Show More Show Less
17 of 21 Saltillo Mexican Kitchen
Entree price: $-$$
Where: 5427 Bissonnet
Read Alison Cook's review of Saltillo Mexican Kitchen.
Pictured above: chips and salsa
19 of 21 Sylvia's Enchilada Kitchen
Entree price: $
Where/phone: 6401 Woodway, 713-334-7295 12637 Westheimer, 281-679-8300 1140 Eldridge, 832-230-3842
Read Alison Cook's review of Sylvia's Enchilada Kitchen.
Pictured above: tamales
Craig Hartley, Houston Chronicle/handout Show More Show Less
20 of 21 Villa Arcos
Entree price range: $
Where: 3009 Navigation
Read Alison Cook's review of Villa Arcos.
Pictured above: bacon and egg taco
When it came to chile con queso, former president Lyndon Baines Johnson's personal cook had a recipe for the ages. It was rich, thick and could probably be used to patch holes in drywall.
Last month website Scrumptious Chef uncovered the recipe that Zephyr Wright used when LBJ and his guests had a hankering for queso.
According to the site, White House Executive Chef René Verdon once called Wright's recipe "chili con-crete" for its sturdy structure.
Wright's recipes for pecan pie and Pedernales River Chili are also legendary. She handled the homestyle cooking at the White House and the likes of Verdon handled the fancy dinners with dignitaries.
Most modern Texans prefer their queso to be gooey and runny, on the thicker side of soup. A lot of recipes these days use those most versatile of pantry staples: a brick of Velveeta cheese and a can of Ro-Tel tomatoes and chilies. A microwave comes next.
Yes, Texans are somewhat lazier than we used to be. No one spends hours making queso.
LBJ's queso had the consistency of thick paste. It used a whole pound of aged cheddar cheese cut up into chunks. According to the recipe it was to be served with Fritos or lacking that, quartered tortillas deep fried in fat.
The base ingredients of canned tomatoes, garlic, comino, oregano, onion, salt and chili powder were simmered first for two hours to cook out the liquid before the cheese was added.
Wright, who passed away in 1988, began her work with the Johnson family in 1942 and her cooking followed LBJ to the White House.
Wright was also apparently instrumental in LBJ eventually pushing through the Civil Rights Act of 1964. She attended the signing ceremony and LBJ gave her one of the pens used to sign the act into law. She cooked for LBJ until 1969.
Zephyr Wright's Chili Con Queso Recipe (via Scrumptious Chef)
1 No. 2 can tomatoes
1 large onion chopped fine
1 bud garlic chopped fine
1 tsp. salt
4 tbsp. chili powder
1 tbsp, powdered comino seed
1 tsp. oregano
1 lb. aged cheddar cheese
Simmer all this except cheese slowly for about 2 hours, covered, stirring often. Uncover, turn heat up high and stir constantly until all fluid is gone and you have a thick paste. This paste can be frozen. If so, set out to thaw a couple of hours ahead allowing for about 30 minutes in a double boiler before serving time. Add to it, in double boiler, 1 pound best aged cheddar cheese cut up in chunks.
Cover and let stand over water that is simmering, not boiling, as boiling water tends to make cheese stringy. Stir occasionally to mix well. Taste and add salt if needed.
Modern Sauces: More than 150 Recipes for Every Cook, Every Day
This is the book for cooks who want to take their cooking to a whole new level.
Martha Holmberg was trained at La Varenne and is an award-winning food writer. Her look at this sometimes-intimidating genre—expressed in clear, short bites of information and through dozens of process photographs—delivers the skill of great sauce-making to every kind of cook, from beginners to those more accomplished who wish to expand their repertoire.
More than 100 recipes for sauces range from standards such as béarnaise, hollandaise, and marinara to modern riffs such as maple-rum sabayon, caramelized onion coulis, and coconut-curry spiked chocolate sauce. An additional 55 recipes use the sauces to their greatest advantage, beautifying pasta, complementing meat or fish, or elevating a cake to brilliant.
Modern Sauces is both an inspiration and a timeless reference on kitchen technique.
The Homesick Texan’s Brief History Of Chile Con Queso
There’s a very good reason there’s an exclamation point at the end of Homesick Texan Lisa Fain’s new cookbook, Queso! It’s hard not to say it without, well, exclaiming! If there’s one dish in the Texas repertoire to be truly excited about, it’s queso. This book has every recipe — plus some essential knowledge — you could ever need to become a true master. Take it one step further and learn the history of chile con queso before you dip your next chip.
In the late 1500s, Spanish explorers arrived in the area around what is known today as El Paso, Texas, along the Mexican-American border. With them, they brought livestock, such as cows and goats, which that part of the world had never seen. Dairy was not known to the Native Americans, as their diet was made up of indigenous ingredients such as corn, squash, and chiles. From that point, however, as the old world connected with the new, it was perhaps inevitable that one day cheese would be paired with chiles and a culinary alliance would be born.
Although the exact moment when chile con queso came into existence has not been determined, the earliest reference to it in print can be found in the 1816 Mexican novel, El Periquillo Sarniento (The Mangy Parrot) by José Joaquín Fernández de Lizardi. The next citation occurred in 1865 in the Mexican poem “Glosa del Chile Verde con Queso,” in which an anonymous poet laments that women of his era know much about artifice and fashion but little about practical matters such as stewing chiles with cheese.
Despite the presence of chile con queso in the literature of the day, Mexican cookbooks from the 1800s did not feature recipes with that name, though dishes composed of chiles with cheese did exist. One such recipe, Chiles Poblanos, found in the 1887 cookbook La Cocinera Poblana, was made up of poblano chiles, cheese, and tomatoes.
Although chile con queso most likely originated in Mexico, the first published recipe to use the phrase appeared in the United States. An 1896 article about Mexican cuisine in the magazine, The Land of Sunshine included a dish called Chiles Verdes con Queso, which was a mixture of long green chiles, tomatoes, and cheese. Like all early Mexican versions, it was intended to be a side dish, with the cheese enhancing the chiles, much like cheese melted onto cauliflower. Its evolution to a dip was yet to come.
Now, looking toward Europe, Swiss fondue and its British counterpart, Welsh rarebit (or rabbit), became popular in the United States in the late 1800s. Fondue is a pot of melted cheese for dipping bread and vegetables Welsh rarebit is a melted cheese dish that is poured over toast. Neither was considered a side dish but instead was an appetizer or the main event of a meal.
Then, in 1908, a Kentucky newspaper ran a recipe for Mexican rarebit, a take on Welsh rarebit that added chile pulp to a base of melted cheese, milk, and egg and was served over toast. In 1909, the San Francisco newspaper Call published a similar recipe, but replaced the chile pulp with chili powder, a blend of ground ancho chiles with herbs and spices, such as oregano and cumin. One of the fathers of chili powder was a German immigrant in Texas named William Gebhardt. He began to market his Eagle Brand chili powder in 1896, and in 1911 his company produced a cookbook that included a recipe for Mexican rarebit similar to the San Francisco version.
About the same time, recipes for and references to Mexican chile con queso began appearing more frequently in the press. Eventually, an astute cook realized that combining rarebit (and getting rid of the egg often used in its preparation) and chile con queso would make for a fine dish, which leads us to a recipe for Mexican rarebit that appeared in the 1914 edition of Boston Cooking School Magazine and that called for green chiles, tomatoes, cheese, beer and corn. This version, though intended for pouring over toast, was very close to what most would consider American chile con queso today.
In Texas, chile con queso appeared in restaurants as early as 1910, when San Antonio’s Gunter Hotel offered it, according to the book The Menu Maker. (In 1922, O. M. Farnsworth asserted that the menu for his Original Mexican Restaurant, also in San Antonio, had not changed since it opened in 1900. Chile con queso was on the menu at the time, so perhaps it was served back in 1900, though no one seems to have documents to confirm this.) It is not known what form this dish took — whether it was a side dish or a sauce to be poured over tostadas or toast.
Then, in the early 1920s, a recipe with the name Chile con Queso appeared in the Woman’s Club Cook Book of Tested and Tried Recipes published by the Woman’s Club of San Antonio. Like some Mexican rarebit recipes, this chile con queso used cayenne and paprika instead of the fresh chiles found in Mexican chile con queso. But it did not contain egg and it was the first chile con queso recipe to call specifically for American cheese. A truly American queso in both name and style had arrived.
After that, chile con queso appeared frequently in Texas publications and community cookbooks. These early recipes were served over toast or tostadas or were enjoyed as dips with potato chips, crackers, tostadas, or Fritos, after their invention in 1932. American cheese was a popular choice in these early recipes Velveeta, which was invented in 1918 but not widely marketed until later, didn’t make its first appearance in a queso recipe until 1939, in What’ll I Cook? published by the First Christian Church of Lubbock.
In 1943, Carl Roetelle opened his canning plant in Elsa, Texas, and began to market Ro-Tel tomatoes, which were tomatoes blended with green chiles. Then in 1949, a Ro-Tel ad appeared with a recipe for making a chile con queso by simply heating a can of the spicy tomatoes with American or processed cheese until melted, and serving the dip with toasted tortillas or Fritos: a Tex-Mex classic was born.
While most of Texas was enjoying chile con queso made with American cheese, green chiles, and tomatoes, in the area around El Paso and southern New Mexico, the dish with that name had more in common with what was found across the border in the Mexican state of Chihuahua. It wasn’t meant to be just a side dish any longer, however, as it was also served as an appetizer with tortilla chips and tortillas, much like it was across the rest of Texas.
Chile con queso, in all its forms and permutations, was still very much a regional specialty when First Lady Claudia “Lady Bird” Johnson shared her version in the Washington Post in 1964. Despite the attention, the dish wasn’t popularized, though people in the Southwest, Texas, and Midwest continued to make queso. In these regions, it became a staple at social gatherings. There wasn’t much variation in the recipes, however, until recent years, when creative cooks took the basic formula and crafted it into something new.
The history of chile con queso is rich and varied, much like the dish itself. In this chapter, I’ve included recipes that show the beginnings and evolution of this uniquely North American blend of the Old World and New. Admittedly, a couple of the recipes are included for their historical significance and not their tastiness. I’ve shown how they were originally written, and also given suggestions on how to adapt them to today’s tastes, so be sure to read the headnotes before making the recipes. That said, most of these recipes are as fresh and inviting to people today as they were over one hundred years ago.
Roast the chilies and the jalapeños under the broiler until blackened, about 5 minutes per side. Place them in a paper sack or plastic food-storage bag, close it tightly and let them steam for 20 minutes.
After the chilies have steamed, remove them from the bag and rub off the skin. Remove the stems and seeds from all the chiles and slice into thin, long strips.
In a large skillet, heat the butter on medium-low heat. Add the onions and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and cook for 30 more seconds. Pour the half-and-half in the skillet and then add the chile strips. Turn the heat down to low and, a little at a time, add the grated cheese, stirring until it’s melted. Add salt to taste. Serve immediately with warm corn or flour tortillas.