Semi-Homemade Cheesy Gordita Crunch

Homemade Cheesy Gordita Crunch

Update: I started a new “Food Photography” album on Flickr.

It was a limited-time product, but now it is a mainstay on the menu. Taco Bell describes it as a “warm, pillowy flatbread covered in a melted three-cheese blend, wrapped around a crunchy taco and topped with a zesty Pepper Jack sauce.” One of my favorite items to order off the Taco Bell menu is the cheesy gordita crunch. As a recent college graduate, yes, Taco Bell is still a guilty pleasure.

I still live right off campus from Indiana University, and this week is Spring Break but I’m not on vacation. How about serving up cheesy gordita crunches and throwing together a fiesta?! Sand not included.

I was shopping in WalMart recently and came across some shelf products made by Taco Bell. I had no idea that they offered packaged salsas and sauces, so I purchased the Spicy Ranchero Sauce hoping that it’d be a good substitute as a cheesy gordita crunch sauce.

Spicy Ranchero Sauce, Ortega taco shells, cheese, and On The Border hot salsa. Not pictured: taco seasoning, ground chuck, water, lettuce, and Taco Bell Mild Sauce

You could definitely make your own sauces, salsas and tortillas and get really creative with it, but my idea came about quickly and I went for the faster, packaged selections instead. It’s actually a simple taco recipe, just with craftily constructed shells. I put the Spicy Ranchero Sauce on the side, and turns out I didn’t really like it anyways. Maybe just melting pepper jack cheese would have been more suitable. I can try that next time.

Start with:

1 box of Ortega Grande Taco Shells, Hard and Soft Tacos. It comes with 8 hard shell tacos and 8 soft tacos and is perfect for “cheesy gordita crunch”-making.

1 lb. ground chuck. This is enough to make six, depending how much fills the shells.

1 cup water.

1 pkg. taco seasoning mix.  I had Kroger’s on hand.

Lettuce. I had bags of romaine salad on hand that I sliced up.

Taco sauce. Of course, I used mild sauce packets from Taco Bell.

1 package of blended Mexican cheeses. The Great Value brand I bought at WalMart had Monterey Jack, Cheddar, Queso and Asadero cheeses.

Salsa. I typically have four different salsas in my fridge because I’m picky, but now my favorite is On The Border Hot Salsa.

Shells on top of cheese-covered tortillas. Photo credit: Isaiah Ashba

Ortega directions I followed but improved on:

Taco-seasoned ground chuck. Photo credit: Isaiah Ashba

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove hard shells from container and arrange on baking sheet.
  2. While waiting for the oven to preheat, brown the beef in a pan on the stove and drain the fat. Stir in 1 cup water and packet of seasoning mix, then heat until thickened while stirring mixture often.
  3. Place baking sheet with hard shells in the oven and bake for 3-4 minutes.
  4. Using a hot pad, remove sheet from oven, then take out soft tortillas from container. Shells will be hot, but gently move them to the side of pan or on another clean surface. Place soft tortillas on the baking sheet and sprinkle cheese on tortillas, covering the surface but still leaving space around the edges for cheese to melt. Place shells directly on the tortillas. Make an even amount of shells and tortillas. Bake for roughly 20 seconds, depending on oven. The cheese needs to be softened and melted but not completely.
  5. Remove baking sheet. Quickly but gently fold tortillas around shells and press together firmly around sides and bottom. Be careful because shells are fragile.
  6.  Fill newly made gordita crunch shells with beef, taco sauce, salsa, lettuce, cheese and enjoy!

Isaiah takes a bite.

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