Better Than Taco Bell Mexican Pizza

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Yesterday my mom emailed me a link to a recipe, as she occasionally does when she finds one that looks great. Usually, it’s not a recipe that I’ve ever seen. It’s never been a recipe that I’ve actually made one week prior. Until yesterday, that is.

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My mom sent me this link, and I immediately thought, “That looks extremely familiar!” Turns out, I was correct. And just to be clear, no, my mom didn’t know that I’d just made this. So I wrote her back saying, “yeah, I know, it’s really good!”

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As you probably guessed from the post’s title, this is a homemade version of Taco Bell’s Mexican pizza. My parents were big sticklers on nutritious eating, so they didn’t allow too much fast food. But, it’s not like we were hermits or anything, so exceptions were occasionally made. And more often than not, those exceptions came in the form of Taco Bell. Even though we all knew it’s not real Mexican food, I must say, my whole family was fans.

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Taco Bell continued to be part of my diet until my late twenties (which is about when I discovered Chipotle. Coincidence??). Matt and I ate there for years, and The Border even made an appearance the night we got engaged.

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The past few years, I have really become more conscious about what I eat, specifically about where my food comes from and how it was treated before being put on my plate. Thus, I’ve cut out most fast food. I seem to have replaced Taco Bell with Chipotle. But I cannot deny that Taco Bell played a prominent role in my childhood and young adulthood, nor do I really want to deny it.

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So I really enjoyed this recipe. And no false advertising here, it does taste like a Taco Bell Mexican pizza, but it’s much, much better! It tastes better, and you know what’s going on your plate because you have control over the ingredients. And trust me when I make the comparison – I’ve done the leg work.

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Recipe notes: this is very messy to eat. I made that worse by initially trying to cut the pizzas with a pizza wheel. It’s much better to use a very large chef’s knife.

Source: adapted from 30A Eats

Ingredients:
Canola or olive oil
1/2 pound ground turkey
1 medium onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup pale beer, preferably Mexican
1/2 cup favorite salsa
4 corn tortillas
Canola oil, for frying
1 15-oz refried beans (or 1 1/2 cups homemade refried beans)
2 cups shredded cheese (I used a combo of cheddar and Monterey jack)
2 green onions, chopped
2 roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
1/4 cup sliced black olives

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease a baking sheet.
Preheat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add a drizzle of canola or olive oil, then the ground turkey. Crumble it with a potato masher until it’s cooked through and no traces of pink remain. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the chili powder, cumin, paprika, salt, and black pepper. Stir to coat the turkey mixture.
Deglaze with the beer, making sure you scrape up all the brown bits at the bottom of the pan. Cook for a few minutes until the beer has mostly evaporated. Now stir in the salsa and simmer at medium-low heat until it’s relatively thick, about 5 or so minutes. Keep warm while you prepare the tortillas.
In a medium skillet, heat the canola oil. To test for readiness, pinch off a tiny piece of tortilla and drop it in the oil. If it sinks, the oil is too cold. If it browns immediately, the oil is too hot. What you want is for the tortilla piece to rise to the top and immediately start bubbling but not browning.
When the oil is ready, fry each tortilla until crisped, about 1 minute per side. Carefully remove to a paper towel lined plate to drain the excess oil.
Let the tortillas cool just until you can stand to handle them. Spread each with refried beans. Top 2 of the tortillas with equal amounts of the turkey mixture. Top with the other tortilla. Sprinkle cheese on top of each pizza.
Bake for 6 minutes, until the cheese is completely melted. Remove from the oven, let rest for a few minutes, then garnish with the scallions, tomatoes and black olives. Cut each into quarters and serve.
Serve 2 people.

6 responses to “Better Than Taco Bell Mexican Pizza

  1. Julie,
    I love recipes that call for a cup of beer!
    I know I ranted about a recipe that called for only part of a bag of cranberries, and I get annoyed with recipes that call for part of a can of sweetened condensed milk, but part of a bottle of beer?

    I’m in!

    This looks delicious, and I hear ya on Chipotle–once I tried carnitas, any other burrito/taco place was ruined for me.

    • Texan New Yorker

      Thanks! And yes, I hear you – I get so annoyed by recipes that call for part of a can of sweetened condensed milk. What the heck am I supposed to do with the rest of it?? But yes, part of a bottle of beer is a completely different ballgame. 🙂

      Yeah, I love Chipotle too, we eat there about once a week.

  2. I think you recipe is fantastic. This taco looks so awesome!

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