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Former Taco Bell Employees, Please Help!!!

HoundDogz Aug 1, 2011 02:00 PM

Some time ago I started a discussion on how Taco Bell tasted a lot better in the '70s and '80s. The meat was much better, just tastier. I hardly can stand the way Taco Bell taste now. I will only go a few times a year because of that. I did a new discussion because the other was too long and interest by viewers was lost, so here is a new one.

Someone replied that used to work at Taco Bell and noted the shells were fried on premises and fried with coconut oil. So I have part of the equation on how to make tacos like old school Taco Bell, but the big question is what about the meat? The cheese is obvious and lettuce but how about the meat. Some one replied stating that they got 5 or 10 LB bags of ground beef and got the season packages and mixed it with water and cooked it. Great, I can do that with any packaged taco seasoning but none on the market taste like old Taco Bell. I need to know the exact process in which you mixed the meat with the seasoning and water and if you know if anything else was added to the meat like any oils or anything? Also what was in the seasoning.

Today the Taco Bell tacos they serve is a far cry from the old days. I'm 43 so I started going to Taco Bell in the early '70s. I am going to try to fry up some tacos in coconut oil and see how it turns out. If I can get the shells to taste right and of course the cheese and lettuce are obvious, all I need is the meat, which is the hardest part to figure out. I've tried experimenting yet no luck getting the meat to taste like old school Taco Bell. But then again they were greasy as all heck. I don't mind that, I go to the gym 5 to 7 times a week and am in shape. I'm not gonna eat greasy tacos all the time, so it's no matter to me if they are greasy. I just want something that taste great like Taco Bell used to. Now it taste kinda bad almost. Not quite but almost. I do recall that when you received your tacos in the wrapper, the wrapper was drenched in grease. That looked bad to the health driven decade of the '80s therefore Taco Bell changed their recipe for the tacos which made them healthier I suppose but taste bad or close to bad.

Any former Taco Bell employees from the mid '80s or prior who can help out on making the Taco Bell meat like it was during the glory days of the '80s and '70s much appreciated it would be.

Thanks

  1. k
    katecm Aug 2, 2011 10:00 AM

    Considering the to-do recently about how less than 40% of Taco Bell meat is actually meat, I think you may find it impossible to replicate.

    4 Replies
    1. re: katecm
      f
      fourunder Aug 2, 2011 10:26 AM

      Considering the to-do recently about how less than 40% of Taco Bell meat is actually meat,

      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

      Your assumption is wrong......

      http://www.restaurantnews.com/taco-be...

      1. re: fourunder
        Davwud Aug 2, 2011 10:32 AM

        Ya, Taco Bell's taco meat has more beef than my home made does.

        DT

        1. re: fourunder
          m
          MattInNJ Aug 30, 2011 12:47 PM

          Yep, Love it when people take rumors and post them as fact.

          1. re: fourunder
            j
            JudiAU Aug 30, 2011 02:19 PM

            The lawsuit was withdrawn. That is not a comment on whether Taco Bell uses extenders in its meat products. The ingredient labels make it clear that extenders are used.

        2. sheilal Aug 2, 2011 10:13 AM

          I'm not a former Taco Bell employee, but I've been making the 80's Enchirito at home for many, many years. I use a recipe I found here: http://www.topsecretrecipes.com/Taco-...

          The ground beef mixture cooked in water tastes EXACTLY like old school TB beef. I use this concoction for beefy bean burritos, taco salads, etc. Try it. Be sure and use fresh spices. It does make a difference.

          2 Replies
          1. re: sheilal
            HoundDogz Aug 2, 2011 11:26 AM

            sheilal, thanks for the info. I'm gonna click on the link and check it out.

            1. re: sheilal
              thymetobake Aug 2, 2012 03:19 PM

              thanks, sheilal. I just made this an hour ago. It doesn't look too pretty but I love the texture. I've always wondered how restaurants get that texture. It's been so long since I've eaten at a taco bell, I don't really remember. But I've encountered the same thing in real deal Texmex places - in Texas.

              Have you experimented at all. I think I might like it even more with a little less flour.

              Thanks again, from an 8 taco per week gal.

            2. r
              rasputina Aug 2, 2011 11:37 AM

              I'm older than you and ate taco bell back in the 70s at least and I don't remember the taco shells ever being freshly fried. They have always been that disgusting preformed fake shell.

              Can't help on the meat though. I kinda miss the old bell beefer

              1 Reply
              1. re: rasputina
                HoundDogz Aug 2, 2011 02:22 PM

                rasputina, I tend to have the same memories as you. I don't recall them being freshly fried but many an ex employee says they were. They were just perfectly made like at a factory but maybe they had the taco shell process down to a science at each restaurant so it seemed as if they were not fried on the spot. If I go to a real Mexican food place and they make their shells right there and then they sure don't look like the Taco Bell shells I had as a kid. The ones I had were like perfect from a factory but I can only guess they made them perfect at the Taco Bell location since these employees are saying they made them from scratch. I just recall the tacos being ultra greasy and good.

              2. d
                dijon Aug 2, 2011 11:53 AM

                I avoid fast food franchises to the extent possible. I don't ever recall TB being tasty. I do believe Eric Schlosser in Fast Food Nation reported that TB had gone to precooked meat. Everything is preprocessed to the extent possible and shipped in, not only for safety, but to assembly line the process to the max so the high turnover, undertrained, low wage workers cant screw up the food. You may be missing the freshly prepared meat filling of the past.

                6 Replies
                1. re: dijon
                  HoundDogz Aug 2, 2011 12:05 PM

                  dijon, I think you are right. I bet that the switch from freshly prepared meat to the already made stuff they ship to the restaurants is when it started tasting bad. It's not horrible just the Taco Bell of the '70s and '80s was really really good and the stuff now is not so good.

                  I don't eat too much fast foods either but I have to admit I do like fast food places. I'll admit it's bad for me but I love the way it taste. I work out a lot and eating now and then won't hurt me, I just don't go all the time to fast food places.

                  1. re: HoundDogz
                    m
                    Mr_Smee Jan 12, 2013 05:18 AM

                    I know this is an old thread but Taco Bell was my first job. I started out as the fryer.....in summer....Trust me ALL shells were fried on location. Even the nachos and cinnamon crispas (fried flour tortillas with cinnamon sugar).

                    We had a metal rack that you put the tortillas in to make the shape, then an insert that went on top. Fried in coconut oil (pretty sure about the type).

                    This was using yellow corn tortillas not white corn.

                    1. re: Mr_Smee
                      HoundDogz Jan 16, 2013 10:00 AM

                      That's why the tacos were so greasy that the paper they were wrapped in were drenched with grease. Funny enough you guys did a great job because the shells were so perfect they looked like they came from a factory. I thought they were greasy because of the meat but since you made them yourselves by frying them that explains the greasiness. If only TB did things the old way they would still be great.

                      1. re: HoundDogz
                        m
                        Mr_Smee Jan 16, 2013 10:15 AM

                        Most likely the grease was from the meat. Unless the shells were freshly fried. We had to drain the meat so I imagine some didn't drain it all the way. There was always a little orange grease though. I remember the greasy wrappers also and the excellent taste.

                        1. re: Mr_Smee
                          HoundDogz Jan 25, 2013 10:03 PM

                          Exactly they were excellent, grease and all.

                  2. re: dijon
                    c
                    cleobeach Aug 2, 2011 12:31 PM

                    I do believe Eric Schlosser in Fast Food Nation reported that TB had gone to precooked meat.

                    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

                    Several years ago, I was involved in a fund raising event where our local Taco Bell donated the ingredients to make walk-away taco salads. The meat came precooked and pre-seasoned in large (5 pound maybe?) bags.

                  3. m
                    melissa511 Aug 2, 2011 12:21 PM

                    The first Taco Bell I ever patronized was as a college student in East Lansing, Mich., in the mid-70s. What I remember most about it (in addition to the fact that it was wildly popular with my colleagues at the college newspaper) was that the flour tortillas were dyed orange -- why, I have no idea. It's hard to believe that the food was better back then.

                    I do think there is some variation today in the food served at different Taco Bells. When I worked in downtown Los Angeles in the late 1990s, the Figueroa Boulevard Taco Bell served what I considered the top-of-the-line bean burrito; the refried beans at other Taco Bells were dry and tasteless in comparison. Now that I live in the northeast, there's a Taco Bell in Nanuet, N.Y., that my kids and I have deemed "the worst Taco Bell ever," with horrible service and iffy ingredients. (But the ones in Paramus and Hackensack, N.J., are OK.) Go figure.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: melissa511
                      HoundDogz Aug 2, 2011 02:19 PM

                      melissa, the one on Figureroa Boulevard I'm not familiar with but when I used to work in downtown, last I worked there was 2007, I used to sometimes go to the one around the California Plaza area on Grand between 5th and, well I guess 4th Street.

                    2. b
                      Bazel Aug 2, 2011 03:26 PM

                      Prior to Taco Bell being purchased by Pepsi Co (before 1985) EVERYTHING was prepared fresh onsite:

                      • Ground beef, not Choice but the grade below, was delivered in 10# bags fresh, not frozen.
                      • Beans were made in 20# batches with sorted and washed Pinto Beans, a cup of salt and 2#’s of LARD per pressure cooker brought to a boil, air released – then built back up and cooked for another 2-3 hours then “drilled” with a 2’ long drill bit. New employee hazing included being told you had to count the beans that went in each batch.
                      • Cheese arrive in a 40 pound block was cut with a wood handled and guitar string cutter each night and then shredded fresh each morning.
                      • Lettuce came by the case and was cleaned at night, shredded each morning.
                      • Tomato’s slice then cubed multiple times per day and same for onions.
                      • Olives came WHOLE in a can and sliced into 3 pieces because the ring couldn’t be broken.
                      • Grade A sour cream came in 2Qt tubs and were transferred to plastic tubes, air pockets removed for use in portion gun.
                      • Corn tortillas were delivered by distribution and fried into shells each morning.
                      • Full size flour tortillas, buns (for the Bell-Beefer) and smaller orange colored (could have been a combination of flour and corn) tortillas (used for Enchiritos) were stored cold and placed in the steam cabinet prior to use.
                      • The green sauce came in a #10 can and had no ingredients listed as it was a proprietary secret. One can was divided into 2 inserts and then filled the balance of the way with water.
                      • The red sauce came as a dry mix. Water was added to an insert then you whisked the entire time you slowly poured the mix into the insert.
                      • The meat seasoning came as a package too. A smaller cambro container (guessing 2QT’s) was filled to the lower rim with water then the dry mix was stirred in. Seasoning sat at least overnight in the walk in before being used. One 2Qt container seasoned 20 pounds of meat. The whole container was added to the raw meat and then cooked to 165 degrees – stirring almost the entire cooking time to get meat to a fine consistency. Once at 165 – meat was set to drain and cooled to 150 then placed in pans and moved to steam table for service.

                      Yep, I was an employee and I probably could have (and maybe did) eat there 5 days a week for well over a year (no weight gain) and at least 3 times a week there after until it was sold to Pepsi Co and everything began to ship pre-made from the corporate commissary. A bean and cheese with green sauce, no onion, extra cheese for less than a buck made the perfect, cheap, filling lunch.

                      The Taco Bell I worked at still had phonetic pronunciations on the menu board. The Burrito Supreme was pretty new and considered fancy. Most folks stuck with the basics; taco, burrito, tostada and bell beefer. Rich people bought the enchirito, taco supreme, taco grande, taco light (not low cal, just made with a fried flour tortilla), and tostada supreme. The nacho bell grande arrived while I worked there and that was considered innovative. Chips were fried onsite, cheesy sauce came from a can though.

                      You Tube has lots of “nostalgic” commercials. You can re-live the glory days of what was good, fast food if you just do a quick search.

                      And if in the late 70’s, early 80’s you considered fast food trash then too, well we’ll just have to disagree. I grew up in a house with no packaged foods, everything was homemade. Knowing that we were going to get bean burro’s during Lent was a huge bonus (mom didn’t know they used lard)!

                      In the end I can’t answer your question of how the meat was truly made – but maybe you can experiment with off the self seasoning packets and the Taco Bell cooking technique.

                      Good Luck,

                      Bz

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: Bazel
                        HoundDogz Aug 2, 2011 08:39 PM

                        Bazel, thank you for the detailed description of how the process of the food was prepared at Taco Bell. Taco Bell was a high quality fast food chain from what I gather from what you described it as. More like an independent than some fast food chain even tho it was a chain. Too bad Pepsico ruined everything.

                        Do you remember that the tacos were drenched in grease? If you recall that, was it from the meat or was it because you all made fresh shells on site? I'm trying to figure out how the tacos were so greasy. I'd think the meat but now that I think of it it's the taco shells possibly because when I go to an authentic Mexican restaurant and get tacos the shells are greasy as all heck because they were just fried. I'm amazed that Taco Bell made the shells on site and they came out so perfect looking as if they were made by a supplier somewhere with giant equipment.

                        I'm gonna try the recipe in the link above that one of the previous posters posted the link to. I'll try different processes based on what you describe above on how to make the meat.

                        I do go on YouTube and look at the old Taco Bell commercials. They bring back fond memories of my elementary and high school years. I am the Class of 1985, Alhambra High School, Alhambra, California.

                        Do you also notice the taste of the taco meat is not nearly as tasty as the original pre-Pepsi days?

                        I visited El Taco in Downey. This was also started by the guy who started Taco Bell. I think it was Glenn Bell who started both Taco Bell and El Taco. El Taco is still independent and not corporate. They have amazing chicken enchiladas. I was hoping the tacos were gonna taste like old school Taco Bell. Nope they don't but they are.

                        Thanks!

                        1. re: HoundDogz
                          sheilal Aug 3, 2011 06:04 AM

                          HoundDogz, when I first tried the recipe I linked above, I was skeptical about it. Especially the ingredient of flour and then putting it in water. I think it's the combination of the two that yield the fine texture of the ground beef. It was really surprising how close it tasted. After tweaking my spices (I use only fresh ones, which isn't a problem since I use them so frequently), it was dead on!

                          1. re: HoundDogz
                            s
                            shelucas Nov 13, 2011 11:08 AM

                            I worked at Taco Bell for many years (1978-1986) in the Phoenix area. The description made by Bazel above is almost an exact example of what my experiences were. I started with Taco Bell as a shy 16 year old who was on my own and had to support myself. I finished as the manager of the busiest store in the state (in the 1980’s anyway). The experiences that I gained in those years are both fond and frustrating for many different reasons, but I learned excellent work ethics and pride in a job well done that has carried me throughout my various careers. I worked for a very large franchise that really cared about how their business was presented. The owners were on hand daily to inspect in detail every process of the operation, and the district managers were never too good to pick up a broom or cook a pan of beans. I forget how many stores they had but there were quite a few. I was very proud to have worked for this particular franchise for a long time. Unfortunately, in the end I moved on to a different franchise because of a very young, favored and brand new district manager that was “sowing his oats” shall we say? The new franchise was vastly different and their attention to detail left a bit to be desired. Things were better in the old days and I outgrew my fast food job and moved on to a more modern career.

                            As far as the shells go, I personally have fried many, many thousands of shells in my Taco Bell career. Perhaps it was a franchise or regional thing as to whether they were fried on site or not. Our “fryers” as we called the kids that did that, worked generally in the mornings or late at night. The different types of shells all had metal molds that gave them their perfect appearance. The heat was kept very consistent and the shells were fried for a very specific time. If they weren’t perfect they went to the trash, period. The batches were fried generally every other day and the shells were kept in a warming oven at a very low temperature that helped to make sure that they were never, ever stale.

                            With regards to the meat, we cooked it exactly as Bazel described. I think that the meat was an 80/20 blend that had pretty high water content. Anyway, it could be somewhat greasy if it wasn’t drained properly. The owners taught us never, ever to mash the meat in any way, neither while cooking nor draining. They wanted the meat to be fluffy with no mushy texture. Once the meat was set in the drainer the thermometer was placed in it and it was not touched again until it reached 150 this way the liquid would have more spaces to drain and would remain moist and fluffy. It was placed in a metal pan, covered and placed in the steam cabinet until the pans in the tables were empty.

                            These days I do not eat at Taco Bell. The food is not the quality I remember it and I can make pretty much everything myself at home. I make the meat myself but I use a 90/10 blend. The meat must be completely thawed, not in a microwave where it can partially cook. I use whatever brand of taco seasoning I have; they all pretty much taste the same. I generally buy the large containers from Sam’s Club and mix it myself. I think it can taste different from what the old Taco Bell meat tasted because it is not drained the same. What you get at home is the meat cooked, drained and then a dry mix added and then water added to that. Consequently what you wind up with is cooked ground beef with a sauce. The texture and the flavor, while tasty, is not the same as the old Taco Bell meat. What I tried was pre mixing the sauce, it should be liquid when you add it to the meat, and usually the measurements are ¼ cup mix to 2/3 cup water. Add it to the UNCOOKED meat. Cook until it is at least 165 degrees or however you like it to be (well done, etc…). Pour all of it into a colander with smaller holes, fluff it and let it drain, again you can fluff it but do not mash it. It should be moist but not too greasy. If it cools too much, put it in a bowl and heat it a little in the microwave just before serving, warm meat heats very quickly in the micro, be sure not to overdo it. I’d love to find out if I was helpful in your quest, and what you think of the meat. Good Luck.

                          2. re: Bazel
                            s
                            sarahcz12 Aug 1, 2012 05:15 PM

                            Thank you Bazel for posting this! I am just as obsessed with the old Taco Bell and I'm glad to know from this discussion that I'm not the only one. I remember as a teen in the 70's seeing the staff cooking the meat and beans and yes, frying the taco shells with those metal forms. I stopped going to TB about 10 years ago. I crave an Enchirito every now and then but it's always so disappointing. I'd like to try the suggestions on here and make my own. I remember the tortillas for the enchiritos were different and I always wondered if they were a wheat/corn flour mixture. Can't believe how sad I was they started using the white tortillas. Then around the late 80's on, the food was horrible. It just keeps getting worse. Those "gourmet bowls?" Really? With "world-renowed" chef what's her name? Roasted corn, guac, cilantro-lime chicken? Can you say Chili's?

                            1. re: sarahcz12
                              The Dairy Queen Jan 16, 2013 10:43 AM

                              Lorena Garcia. :(

                              ~TDQ

                          3. a
                            Axlsgoddess Aug 2, 2011 11:25 PM

                            I worked at Taco Bell in 1977 in Van Nuys, CA. The shells were not fried. In fact the shells are pretty much the same as now. The meat was ground beef mixed with a pre measured seasoning packet. Nothing odd or sinister was added to the meator anyoftheproducts and everything was made when it was ordered.

                            1. Antilope Aug 30, 2011 07:03 AM

                              Taco Bell "Bell Burger" from 1960's

                              From about the mid-1960's through the mid-1970's Taco Bell made a Sloppy Joe like sandwich called the "Bell-Burger". It used the same flavored ground beef mixture as a crunchy taco, along with a sauce similar to Mild Border Sauce and shredded mild cheddar cheese. This was served on a hamburger bun that had been steamed slighly to soften and warm it.

                              This is not the "Bell Beefer", which came about 10 years later and had diced tomatoes, lettuce and sour cream. The "Bell Burger" was just seasoned loose meat, sauce and shredded cheese on a steamed bun.

                              Beef Filling:
                              1 pound lean ground beef, uncooked
                              1/4 cup all-purpose flour
                              1 Tbsp mild chili powder
                              1 tsp table salt
                              1/2 tsp dried minced onion flakes
                              1/2 tsp paprika
                              1/4 tsp onion powder
                              dash garlic powder
                              1/2 cup cold water

                              6 hamburger buns (steamed slightly to soften and warm them)
                              6 to 12 packets (or 1/3 to 2/3 cup) of Taco Bell Mild Border Sauce (recipe below)
                              3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese

                              Combine in a mixing bowl raw ground beef, flour, chili powder, salt, minced onion flakes, paprika, onion powder and garlic powder. Mix thoroughly like you would mix a meatloaf.

                              In a skillet on the stove top, add 1/2 cup of cold water and the seasoned ground meat mixture. Mix well. Cook over medium heat, mash and stir ground meat as it cooks, breaking it up. Cook until meat is no longer pink and slightly browned. The meat mixture should be loose, without any large pieces. Drain off any grease or liquid.

                              Steam the burger buns slightly to warm and soften them.

                              Build a "Bell Burger" like this:

                              Spread a tablespoon of Mild Border Sauce on the bottom bun.
                              Place several tablespoons of the meat mixture on the bottom bun like making a sloppy joe.
                              Add 1 or 2 packets (or 2 Tbsp) of Taco Bell Mild Border Sauce evenly over the meat on bun.
                              Sprinkle 1 or 2 Tbsp of shredded mild cheddar cheese over meat mixture on bun. Add the top bun.
                              Repeat 5 more times. Serve warm.

                              Makes 6 "Bell Burgers"

                              --------

                              Taco Bell Mild Border Sauce

                              3 cups cold water
                              2 tsp cornstarch
                              1 (6-oz) can tomato paste
                              3 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
                              4 tsp chili powder
                              2 tsp salt
                              1 tsp cayenne pepper

                              Add cold water to a saucepan. Stir in the cornstarch until it is dissolved.

                              Stir in the tomato paste, vinegar, chili powder, salt and cayenne pepper.
                              Stir until well mixed and smooth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for
                              5-minutes to thicken.

                              Allow sauce to cool then store in a covered container in the refrigerator.

                              Makes about 3 cups of Mild Border Sauce.

                              9 Replies
                              1. re: Antilope
                                a
                                acgold7 Aug 30, 2011 11:31 AM

                                Thanks for this. Do you suppose the different red sauces in the packets can be acheived just by varying the cayenne content, or are there other differences as well?

                                1. re: Antilope
                                  Antilope Aug 31, 2011 07:41 PM

                                  To make a Bell Beefer from the above Bell Burger recipe, just add diced tomatoes, shredded lettuce and sour cream.

                                  1. re: Antilope
                                    r
                                    rasputina Aug 2, 2012 05:33 AM

                                    I don't remember any toppings on it, certainly not sour cream. Not saying it didn't have them at one point, I just must not of ordered it during that time. I just remember meat and cheese. But then, I don't remember the cheese being shredded either. Was a long time ago.

                                    1. re: Antilope
                                      The Dairy Queen Jan 16, 2013 10:27 AM

                                      Ah, I remember the bell beefer! Thanks for this recipe! I'm going to have to try it. Funny, i don't remember the lettuce, tomato and sour cream!

                                      ~TDQ

                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                        Antilope Jan 16, 2013 11:11 AM

                                        I just did a search on the Google newspaper archive. You are right about the sour cream. But the Bell Beefer did have lettuce, onions, tomatoes and cheese:

                                        The Sun newspaper- Apr 18, 1982

                                        "The regular Bell Beefer (89 cents) is meat sauce, onions and lettuce on a roll that falls apart when lifted; the Bell Beefer Supreme ($1.09) has tomatoes and cheese."

                                        1. re: Antilope
                                          The Dairy Queen Jan 16, 2013 11:28 AM

                                          Oh that totally rings a bell (hahaha! no pun intended), actually. I do vaguely remember the lettuce (though that could have been from the tacos, too), but I don't remember the tomatoes or cheese. We ordered the bell beefers because they reminded us of the loosemeat sandwiches from back home, but loosemeats wouldn't have had all of that extra stuff like lettuce, tomatoes and cheese. I remember there were some things that cost "extra" but we never wanted those things anyway because they don't come on loosemeats!

                                          ~TDQ

                                          1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                            Antilope Jan 16, 2013 11:56 AM

                                            I read on another board that someone buys Taco Bell tacos, takes them home and dumps the loose meat on hamburger buns and adds some mild border sauce to make quick Bell Beefers.

                                            1. re: Antilope
                                              The Dairy Queen Jan 16, 2013 12:00 PM

                                              That's pretty funny.

                                              I thought I was the only one who remembered them and am glad to have a confirmation that I wasn't imagining it.

                                              ~TDQ

                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                Antilope Jan 16, 2013 12:48 PM

                                                I was surprised, in 2006, on my first visit to Mexico (a business trip to Chihuahua) there were Taco Bell outlets. I didn't try them and local people said they hated the Taco Bell food. Maybe Taco Bell is there for the American tourists? I ate at a local chain called Ricky's Tacos and they were delicious.

                                    2. PotatoHouse Aug 30, 2011 07:23 AM

                                      As a truck driver, I have hauled the premade preformed taco shells from Mission Tortilla Company in downtown Los Angeles to a Taco Bell distribution center in Texas. Unless they have changed their policy in the past few years, none of the TB corn tortilla shells are made on site.

                                      4 Replies
                                      1. re: PotatoHouse
                                        Antilope Aug 30, 2011 12:24 PM

                                        Here's a paraphrased recipe for Taco Bell Fire Border Sauce (from TopSecretRecipes). That's were I got the paraphrased Mild Border Sauce recipe above and the paraphrased Beef Filling recipe above:

                                        Taco Bell Fire Border Sauce

                                        3 cups cold water
                                        2 tsp corn starch
                                        1 (6-oz) can tomato paste
                                        3 Tbsp vinegar
                                        3 Tbsp finely minced canned jalapeno slices
                                        1 Tbsp chili powder
                                        1 Tbsp dried minced onion
                                        2 tsp salt
                                        1 tsp cayenne pepper
                                        1 tsp sugar
                                        1/4 tsp onion powder
                                        dash garlic powder

                                        Add cold water to a saucepan. Stir in the cornstarch until it is dissolved.

                                        Stir in the tomato paste, vinegar, jalapeno slices, chili powder, dried minced
                                        onion, salt, cayenne pepper, sugar, onion powder and garlic powder.
                                        Stir until well mixed and smooth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for
                                        3-minutes to thicken, stirring frequently.

                                        Allow sauce to cool then store in a covered container in the refrigerator.

                                        Makes about 3 cups of Taco Bell Fire Border Sauce

                                        1. re: Antilope
                                          a
                                          acgold7 Aug 30, 2011 01:06 PM

                                          I'm guessing you'd have to puree this with a stick blender or in a regular blender, as the stuff in the packets is pretty smooth. I'll have to give it a try. Thanks for this.

                                          1. re: acgold7
                                            thymetobake Aug 2, 2012 03:21 PM

                                            +1 Thanks!

                                        2. re: PotatoHouse
                                          s
                                          sarahcz12 Aug 9, 2012 03:38 PM

                                          None of the shells are fried on site now. But they used to be in the 70's. I remember those wire-form taco shaped baskets and dropping them in the grease like french fries. Even the corn-shell products are horrible and have come into question around 2000.

                                        3. s
                                          sarahcz12 Aug 1, 2012 05:23 PM

                                          I'm glad I'm not the only one obsessed with the old Taco Bell. I miss it so much! I remember the smells of the food when the beans and meat were cooking early lunch time in those square vats. I also remember the taco shells fried with those special metal forms. Just like dropping fries in a wire basket and lowering it in the hot oil. I don't remember the tacos being that greasy though. My fav was the enchirito with those three slices of black olive and special yellow tortilla(corn/wheat flour mixture?) in those foil trays. Now the tortillas taste awful, meat tastes like sand and wood, beans are stale. The veggies are usually limp and sour. I haven't been to a TB in 10 years. Occasionally I'll have a bad craving for an enchirito but I'm always disappointed. It seems like alot of trouble to make all of this for one item. It would be fun to find other obsessed fans for a cook-off!

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: sarahcz12
                                            HoundDogz Aug 9, 2012 02:50 PM

                                            Glad other's recall that the old original Taco Bell taste way better than now. I don't care for Taco Bell now, at least the current recipe. I know that being a big company they do have the guidelines and the recipes for the old school Taco Bell tacos but they refuse to make it.

                                            Glenn Bell, originator of Taco Bell had a taco place before TB called El Taco. I mentioned it here already but will again. There is the one in Downey or something where I go and was hoping the tacos would be the same old recipe but taste nothing like old school TB. It's okay but not so great. I do love the enchiladas there and I go there for that.

                                          2. thymetobake Aug 2, 2012 03:21 PM

                                            sheilal, just wanted you to know I posted a thank you under your post way above. Just in case you open this up and only read the bottom.

                                            1. y
                                              yoshert Nov 27, 2012 02:49 PM

                                              I worked at Taco Bell in the 1980's as a fry cook. The taco shells were soft flat and were put into a metal form in the shape of a taco. It was a pain in the butt because the shells could break when you flipped the device over to get the shells out after you cooked them. The taco lights were the worst, about a quarter of them would break-but I wish they would bring them back. The biggest issue I had was when you flipped them over, you had to use the back of your hand to stop the tacos from flying out of the form. You would then slowly pull your hand out and let the tacos come out. I wore a big glove to protect from burns but the heat and the oil really made my hands dry and crack. The meat was prepared fresh back then- usually came in 10 pound bags and you cooked 20 pounds in each container. Add the liquid seasoning-smelled really good and then break up with a large fork hoe thing and then drain. The beans were made fresh in a pressure cooker-beans, lard, and water. Then when it was done we used a drill to turn them into refried beans.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: yoshert
                                                HoundDogz Nov 27, 2012 05:59 PM

                                                Maybe that is why the tacos were always so greasy that the shells were made from scratch there and right out of the hot oil. The wrappers were very much soaked with oil due to the shells being freshly made I suppose.

                                                Golden color wrappers were the regular tacos and if you had a special order like no cheese or no lettuce or something added they would come in a white wrapper. The wrappers had the Taco Bell logo on them too with a pic of a Taco Bell restaurant.

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