We Can Do It Better: How To Make a Quesalupa
So Taco Bell has a history of cutting and pasting menu items together to make new ones, like the quesarito. We already taught you how to make one, and now we’re all eating burritos and quesadillas and everything at home. Hooray, no need for anyone to go to Taco Bell ever again!
But then, they had to go ahead and invent this:
Naturally, the side of me that still wishes I ate Taco Bell felt a bullet go through its heart. I’ve seen some yummy looking menu items go up there since I stopped eating fast food years ago, but nothing really spectacular. But I didn’t let it get me down. No. Instead I decided we here at PCFG were gonna beat them at their own game. Quesadilla-chalupa hybrid? Alright. I like a challenge. Only available as a test item in Ohio for now? Bam. That was your big mistake, because it gave me the time to experiment, and now we’ve already solved the mystery of how to make one. Checkmate, bitches.
If you’re wondering if it’s really possible to make a homemade quesalupa, I’ll tell you right now, yes. It is. It’s not as easy as some of the other burrito/taco foodstuffs you can make at home, but it can be done, it’s still pretty inexpensive, and is incredibly indulgent (read: yummy). While at first it seemed a little confounding for how I could possibly make this, and I assumed they used some sort of top secret technique to prepare the chalupa shells, I eventually realized it’s actually pretty obvious what they used: pocket pitas.
If you’ve never seen one before, pocket pitas are flatbreads that are baked a certain way so that they’re actually kind of hollow inside. Mysteriously, they’re becoming harder to find than plain old regular flatbread pitas like you would make a gyro out of. Not even our local Turkish market stocked them. But! Fear not, they’re not impossible to find. Rather, you can find them pretty easily if you look around the deli section of most supermarkets. We live on Long Island in New York, and were able to find them pretty easily at Path-Mark, Waldbaums, and other grocery stores. Just make sure they do not say “pocketless” on them. And even then be careful since many pita flatbreads without pockets won’t mention being pocketless. Despite that, the pocket ones are easy enough to identify since they’re poofy and tan-colored, compared to the dense white gyro style ones.
- 1 plain pocket pita
- 1/4 cup shredded pepper jack cheese, or cheese of your choice
- Vegetable oil for frying
- 1/2 cup shredded chicken, or chopped meat
- 2 tsp sour cream
- Chopped veggies (Lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, onions, etc)
- 2 tbsp shredded cheddar cheese
- Carefully cut open your pocket pita halfway, just enough to stuff the cheese inside. When it’s open enough, spread the pepper jack around equally in the pocket so that it covers the entire inside.
- Fill a small frying pan with oil to a depth of about 1″ and heat on a medium flame.
- Spray a griddle, grill, or other type of flat pan with non-stick spray, and then proceed to grill your pita as if it were a quesadilla on a very low flame. You don’t want the pita to cook per se, but you do want it to warm up enough to make the cheese gooey. Check it after a minute or two and once the cheese has softened and started to melt, turn the flame off and remove the pita.
- Turn the flame on your oil up to high, and let it heat up for one minute. Once the oil is hot, place your pita in the oil and begin frying it.
- Be aware! The pita will cook incredibly quickly and you must stay right on top of it to make sure it doesn’t burn. This is what’s known as “flash-frying”. Check your pita after 20 seconds to see if the bottom has turned a nice golden-brown. If not, wait and check every 10-15 seconds after. Once it does, flip over and repeat the process.
- This is the key step where your pita becomes a quesalupa! Remove the fried pita and place it on a mat of several paper towels to pat off the excess oil. Immediately begin to carefully and slowly bend the pita into a shell shape. At first it may be a bit stiff but as time goes on, it will give in and you’ll be able to make a perfect little chalupa shell. You can then prop on something such as a fork to lightly weigh on top of the shell so that it stays in place. Let it cool in this position for about five minutes, or until it’s cool enough to handle.
- Once your shell is handleable, begin building it by placing the chicken or other meat inside. Add the sour cream on top of the chicken.
- Add in veggies and cheese on top of the sour cream, and your quesalupa is more or less finished. Add on any other garnishes or toppings you so desire and then enjoy the shit out of both this yummy snack, and the fact you outwitted Taco Bell.
Really the hardest part of all this is the frying. I didn’t stress enough before, but this thing is going to fry REALLY fast. Like, when we were performing our experimentation, I placed the pita in the oil, walked away to go pour myself a glass of water and by the time I got back it had burnt. The annoyance of hovering over a pan of hot oil is well worth the joy making your own quesalupa shell at home. The cool part about the quesalupa itself is that the cheese retains a lot of the moisture that might’ve been lost through cooking at high temperatures. Chalupa shells tend to be on the crunchy side, but this is more of a chewy texture thanks to that layer of delicious cheese.
- You can use your setup to make multiple quesalupas, depending on how many people you’re cooking for. Just whatever you do, whateeeever you do, do not try to cook more than one at once in a large frying pan. It won’t work.
- If you’re hankering for other toppings in the same style as Taco Bell, try spreading some chile con queso or nacho cheese on the bottom, or help yourself to some of Taco Bell’s very own ‘Border sauce’.
- The cheese you use inside the shell can actually be pretty interchangeable. For a stronger cheese flavor, use cheddar. If you want the chewy cheesy goodness but don’t want the flavor, use mozzarella. If you wanna be really out-there, try shredding something fancy like gouda or Drunken Goat or swiss! If it melts, it’ll work.
- It’s entirely possible to make just the shells of these ahead of time, to use for a later date. Just freeze them in a container to protect from breaking, and simply heat them up in the oven when it’s time to make one!
So hear that Taco Bell? Anything you can do, we can all do at home. Until the day comes where you find a way to fit an entire plate of nachos inside of a burrito or create gordita that cures cancer, I got your number. Maybe you should change that ad campaign for the quesalupa from “The rest of America can’t have it” to “The rest of America can’t have it unless they spend $3 on pitas and cheese.” I encourage everyone out there to try your hand at making your own homemade versions of your favorite chain foods. It’s healthier and cheaper in the long run! Now get out there and make some damn quesalupas.
Can’t stop thinking about Taco Bell creations? Check out our recipe for the Quesarito! If you can’t buy ’em anymore, just make it at home!