In a small apartment in East Hollywood, the sound of rush-hour traffic filters through the warm evening air. A group of tired, hungry friends voices a serious craving — not for some seasonal restaurant cuisine or even tacos, but for fast food. Crunchy, melty, salty, addictive fast food.
No one is willing to make a junk food run and risk losing a coveted parking spot. But the grocery store is just down the street.
Fast forward 30 minutes. The coffee table is covered in dirty paper plates and crumpled paper napkins. A group of tired friends is now on the couch, happily satiated.
This was the scene after a recent fast-food craving for a Taco Bell Crunchwrap Supreme hit. It may sound counterintuitive, but for us, at the time, making the stuff from scratch ourselves was oddly easier than the alternative.
If you’re not familiar with the Crunchwrap Supreme (really?), it involves a large flour tortilla wrapped around taco meat, nacho cheese sauce, lettuce, sour cream and a crunchy tostada.
Sometimes you need it. It creeps up on you in the same way you yearn for the special sauce from an In-N-Out Double Double burger to drip down your chin. And it’s that same feeling you get when you think about the takeout box of Panda Express orange chicken you can attack with some wooden chopsticks.
No one is judging you. And if they are, they shouldn’t be. Not all meals can be eaten at the city’s most lauded restaurants.
But a craving for fast food doesn’t mean you actually have to eat dinner at a fast-food restaurant. Bad playlists, scratchy paper napkins and fluorescent lighting aren’t good for anyone. As for drive-through, in this town we spend enough time in our cars already, thank you.
The solution? Make your fast-food favorites at home, and eat them in the comfort of your dimly lighted dining room, listening to NPR with your Labrador curled up under your feet.
As an act of public service, we are providing our own recipes for copycat In-N-Out Double Doubles, Taco Bell Crunchwrap Supremes and Panda Express orange chicken. We think there’s a high probability these “unofficial” recipes will taste better than the real thing.
In a medium bowl, stir together the mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard, sweet and dill pickle relishes, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, salt and sugar. This makes about ¾ cup sauce. The sauce will keep, covered and refrigerated, for up to two weeks.
Measure out 16 (2-ounce) patties of meat and flatten each patty to a thickness of approximately 1/4 inch. Season each side of the patty with a pinch of salt and set aside while you heat the griddle.
Toast the buns, cut-side down, on the griddle just until the cut sides begin to toast, about 30 seconds. Remove from heat and set aside.
Heat a griddle pan over medium heat until hot. Cook the burgers on one side until the patties start to brown, 45 seconds to 1 minute. Flip the burgers, adding a slice of cheese to the browned tops of each one. Continue to cook until the burgers are cooked and the cheese is beginning to melt, about 1 minute more. Remove from heat.
To assemble the burgers, slather about 1 tablespoon sauce on the toasted top and bottom of each bun. On the bottom of each bun, layer two lettuce leaves, a slice of tomato, one cheeseburger patty, a few onion rings, another cheeseburger patty and the top burger bun. Repeat with the remaining ingredients to form eight burgers. Serve immediately.
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