Who's Ready To Get All Mex-Italian Up in Here?
S’mores made out of nothing but seasonal snack cakes.
Is there really a visible cut-off limit for my culinary Franken-dish aspirations within sight?
This answer, we already know: not even close, bud.
The question, I suppose, isn’t so much how to create a lasagna dish made out of Taco Bell products, as much as it is why I would want to do such a thing in the first place. To help pass the food porn SLAPS test, the following is a brief list of the possible psychosocial reasons as to why I (and a lot of my contemporaries, perhaps?) have such a fondness/proclivity for designing such monumental food experiments as adults.
The “Warhol-Duchamp” Hypothesis
As we live in a social system in which food resources are largely inexpensive and freely obtainable, such ostentatious food projects are in fact metaphors for consumer waste, over consumption and the general materialism of contemporary American culture. Our food experiments are actually symbolic critiques of commercialism and mass consumerism, with the food experiments themselves serving as post-post-modern, artistic protest.
The “Did You Ever See That Movie Angus?” Hypothesis
As children, we were either overweight and/or poor, and our proclivities for massive food projects is in fact a form of symbolic regression, a physical representation of our psychological scarring from being fat and/or economically disadvantaged in our youth. In this sense, the food experiments represent a psychical transference of our childhood traumas, which we symbolically triumph over via recreating and literally devouring them as dishes.
The “God is Dead But I’m Still Kind of Hungry” Hypothesis
As products of a post-religious world, we psychologically yearn for regimentation of some kind, which in this case, manifests itself in the ritualistic assembly and subsequent destruction of an arbitrary Eucharist. As modernity serves as our closest thing to a deity figure, the construction and ingestion of the caloric Christ represents a melding of body and culture, a fundamental mass in the form of mastication, digestion and ultimately, defecation.
Now, if you’re asking me which of the above hypotheses I’m buying, I’d have to say…none of the above. Why? Because technically, the idea for a Taco Bell lasagna was somebody else’s, and honestly, I’m just looking to post something worthy of trending on Pinterest.
But, as a social service (and because I really have nowhere else to post a half dozen photos of blurry, mashed-up burrito remnants), I’ll give you kids a run down of how to replicate my experiment, just in case you get a hankering for some fast food fusion at some point in the immediate future.
As far as Franken-foods go, this one is pretty simple to construct. The biggest question you’ll have to ask yourself going into the project is just what you want to use as the “lasagna” buffers for your plate. For my experiment, I went with three standard, hard shell tacos and three Beefy Crunch burritos (which, as we all can attest, really SHOULD be permanent menu items by now) in alternating rows of three - meaning, the first layer went taco-burrito-taco, while the next went burrito-taco-burrito. Depending on how large of a casserole dish you’re using, you could likely repeat this pattern ad infinitum - and yes, if you do manage to craft a dish with more than six layers, please send me photographic evidence PRONTO.
Considering the constraints of our dish size, I was only able to get two layers heaped on mine, which still gave me ample room to layer in at least one row of no-bake lasagna noodles. Obviously, you’re going to want to start by coating the bottom of the dish in tomato sauce, but from there, it’s up to your imagination. For the trial run, I started by placing one row of tacos directly on top of the sauce, sprinkling that with cheese and then laying down three or four lasagna sheets before starting the cycle all over again.
Of course, video evidence makes these sorts of things way easier to replicate, so here are two videos showing you the gist of the prep work for the dish.
As far as baking times go, I reckon the standard 50-60 minutes works just dandy for this one. So if you’re reading this from your shanty in the snows of Kilimanjaro, be prepared to wait awhile for your Taco Bell Lasagna to get nice and oozy.
The final product, I must say, looked a lot better than I expected. Even though we buried the thing in at least two bags of shredded cheese, the thing still looked more like an especially cheesy enchilada supper than it did any lasagna dish I’ve ever seen. Not that that is a bad thing in any regard - after all, why else bother making such a concoction to begin with?
As far as the taste of the dish - you know, the thing that’s ultimately the most important - I have to say it’s pretty good. Granted, it’s not exactly going to set the world on fire or anything like that, but it certainly didn’t taste like anarchy with a side of lettuce, either.
Clearly, the final dish ended up tasting more Mexican than Italian, and thanks to those Frito chips in the burritos, the thing took on this weird deep red hue that made the cheese turn an unnatural orange color. But, on the plus side, the stuff was remarkably simple to scoop up with a spatula…which is quite possibly the single most amazing thing I can say about the dish in its totality.
I think we need a couple of more videos detailing the intricacies of the completed meal, no? Oh, and pay real careful attention to that first one…if you listen carefully, you can actually hear the cheese bubbling.
So…Taco Bell Lasagna. Ultimately, I thought it was a pretty filling and mostly enjoyable dish, although it’s pretty apparent that this thing isn’t going to become a seasonal favorite at subsequent Internet is in America hootenannies.
Eh, she wasn’t a beauty, but she was all right; and if nothing else, it certainly laid out the blueprints for my inevitable chalupa casserole quite nicely…