Food I made an Oprah-approved 'tortilla crunch sandwich' and it tasted like homemade Chipotle
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- In a recount of her favorite memories from staying with Oprah Winfrey during lockdown, Gayle King named Taco Tuesdays as No. 1.
- She shared Chef Raymond Weber's recipe for a Taco Bell-inspired tortilla crunch sandwich on Oprah Daily.
- I made it at home and while I did see the nods to Taco Bell, it reminded me more of Chipotle's newly released quesadilla.
CBS anchor - and best friend to Oprah Winfrey - Gayle King shared her favorite parts about her time spending COVID-19 lockdown in Winfrey's guesthouse on Oprah Daily. At the top of her list was Taco Tuesdays.
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Lucky for us, Winfrey's chef, Raymond Weber, shared his recipe for the Taco Bell-inspired tortilla crunch sandwich in. Hungry for a homemade Crunchwrap Supreme that's good enough for Oprah to munch on, I shopped his ingredient list and got to work in my kitchen.
The fast-food icon is a relatively basic concoction including just seven: a flour tortilla, seasoned ground beef, nacho cheese sauce, a crispy tostada shell, lettuce, tomatoes, and sour cream.
I was able to see where Weber drew on the fast-food item - he used a crunchy corn tortilla inside the soft flour tortilla wrap and folded it up in Taco Bell fashion - but after trying it out myself, I thought it tasted more like. That's not a bad thing, though!
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For my first attempt, I followed Weber's recipe to a T. That was a major fail. But I tried again, making alterations along the way, and in the end, I wound up with something delightful.
Here's what happened when I made Weber's tortilla crunch sandwich.
I first built my sandwich exactly the way Chef Weber instructed
Following Weber's recipe, I grilled and chopped chicken thighs, made chipotle sour cream, and shredded the block of pepper jack cheese I bought. The rest of the ingredients were ready to use straight from the store.
I laid out my large flour tortilla, spread two tablespoons of refried beans across the bottom, topped them with the grilled chicken, and then with the cheese.
Weber didn't say how much space to leave between the filling and the edge of the tortilla, so I left about one and a half inches. He also didn't say how to add the hard taco shell (which comes in a box already folded and ready to be filled), so I broke it in half and laid it flat like a disc. It covered my other toppings perfectly.
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Then I spread the chipotle sour cream over the shell, followed by the salsa and roasted peppers.
Here's where I ran into my first issue: There wasn't enough flour tortilla to wrap around the rest of the ingredients.
In a Hail Mary attempt to save the sandwich, I went rogue
Weber only said to use one flour tortilla, but there was no way I'd be able to salvage this with what I had. So I tore up a second flour tortilla and used it the same way you'd use an extra piece of denim to patch a gaping hole in a pair of jeans.
This kind of worked.
I grilled the sandwich on a pan with oil and, to my surprise, it didn't completely fall apart. But the sides did have trouble staying together.
Returning to the guidance of Winfrey's chef, I transferred my lunch to a board, cut it into quarters, and topped it with more chipotle sour cream and cilantro before taking a big bite.
I knew there was a way to make this work a little bit better
When I took a bite of the first sandwich, all I could taste was the chipotle sour cream. I couldn't taste the fresh grilled chicken, the flavorful pepper jack cheese, or even the salsa. My base of beans just turned into an agent of texture rather than taste.
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As I ate, I thought about all the little tweaks I should have made to account for vagueness in the recipe. So, I decided to try again.
First, I determined that around three inches would better allow for folding the one tortilla in on itself, so I kept my refried beans that far from the edge of the tortilla. Then I topped it with only half the amount of chicken - I didn't have as much room this time so I had to cut back on the clunky ingredients - cheese, and half of a corn shell that I broke into smaller pieces.
Weber's original sour cream recipe called for two tablespoons of the cool dairy and one and a half teaspoons of chipotle powder. This time, I only used about one-half of a teaspoon of the powder and one and a half tablespoons of sour cream. This made for a more mild spread and I was able to taste the other ingredients inside.
Finishing up with salsa and peppers, I successfully folded the flour tortilla edges inward moving clockwise around the circle, and grilled it on both sides.
After trying this second version, I was able to taste the flavors of the dark meat, the bite of the cheese, and appreciate all that the beans had to offer.
If you're going to make Chef Weber's recipe at home, I'd highly recommend assessing the size of the tortillas you're using, and taste as you go to make sure you're comfortable with the level of heat in the sour cream.
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