Friday, November 15, 2013

Feature: Taco Bell Friendsgiving Feast

Taco Bell held their first ever Friendsgiving event, where they invited a small group of their social media friends (see awkward family photo) plus me to enjoy a Thanksgiving meal with a Taco Bell twist.

So what does a Taco Bell Thanksgiving meal look like? And, more importantly, was there even turkey?

Here's the full menu:

First up was "Seasoned Beef Queso Fundido with Pico de Gallo and a Blend of Three Cheeses." It looks like lumpy nacho cheese but it was a tasty blend of warm nacho cheese and Taco Bell's seasoned ground beef. I think they ended up leaving the pico de gallo out though because it was pure beefy cheesiness.

The "Salad of Romaine Lettuce and Baby Greens, Black Beans, Pico de Gallo, Dried Cranberries, Sliced Tart Apples and Candied Pecans, all tossed in a Creamy Avocado Dressing" draws some ingredients from the Cantina Bowl to make a fairly standard, but good, cranberry pecan salad. The black beans seemed to be MIA in my serving. The strongest flavors came from the cranberries, pecans, and apples.
The "Roasted Corn and Pepper Corn Bread" was a small round of corn bread with some bite here and there from bits of jalapenos.

Another side was "A Blend of Yukon Gold Potatoes and Potato Bites with Sauteed Fajita Vegetables." This one was like Taco Bell's Crispy Potato Bites, but infused with bell pepper and onions.

The "Smokey Chipotle and Adobo Chalupa Shell and Tortilla Stuffing with Celery, Onions, and Garlic" was pretty interesting. Like a fairly traditional stuffing but with a slight hint of sweetness and that dense, tortilla texture rather than spongy, moist bread.

To answer my initial question, "Yes, there was turkey and it was glorious!" The dark meat was used in the "Ranchito Shreddeer Cilantro Rice" which was like smoky turkey carnitas on cilantro rice. I take the "Shreddeer" to be a play on words for Christmas but it could just be a typo. The cilantro rice was like the same stuff you find in the Cantina Bowl but infused with turkey or chicken broth.

The Taco Bell culinary team made "Citrus and Herb Roasted Turkey Breast with a Chili Spiced Cranberry Gastrique and Turkey Jus" with the white meat portion of the bird. The turkey goes with a bit of the same flavor as the Cantina grilled chicken and went great with the turkey jus (like un-thickened turkey gravy). A lot of people raved about the Cranberry Gastrique, which was basically a reduction of caramelized sugar, vinegar, and cranberries with just a hint of heat.

Finally for dessert, there was "Cinnabon Delights Bread Pudding." It felt somewhat like a custard with a moist egginess and healthy dose of cinnamon sugar from the pieces of Cinnabon Delights thrown in. To top it off, there was a caramelized syrup with rum.

So there you go, a full-on Thanksgiving meal with a Taco Bell flair. Some of the items might sound a little weird (or awesome depending on who you ask) but they all turned out pretty well.
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