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.
Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat until hot. Add the oil to the pan, then add the onions. Cook the onions until they are translucent and just start to brown, about 4 minutes.
Add the ground beef to the pan. Mix the ground beef with the onions until well mixed. Add the cumin, chile powder, onion powder, garlic powder, ancho chile powder, ground chipotle powder, salt and sugar to the pan and mix well. Cook the meat until it browns, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
Toss the cheese and corn starch together in a medium sauce pan. Add the evaporated milk and stir.
Heat over medium heat until the mixture thickens to a sauce, about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat. This makes about 11/2 cups sauce.
To assemble the crunchwraps, lay out each of the tortillas. Evenly divide the taco meat among the tortillas, spooning a small circle on top of each tortilla. Top each mound of taco meat with a tostada, then evenly divide the shredded lettuce, cheese sauce, tomato and diced olives. Top each with a heaping tablespoon of sour cream.
Carefully fold the outer edges of each tortilla toward the center, creating a circular package using five folds.
Heat a skillet over medium heat until hot. Toast each crunchwrap until golden brown, about 1 minute on each side. Serve immediately with the hot sauce.
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