Friday, March 3, 2017

Fried Dough #5: Non-Dough

There are times when I forget just how long I've been blogging. Today, as I started to write this up, I was digging around for a flashback, and realized it was written in 2010. So... Yeah... I've been blogging for a long time (since August of 2008, to be exact).

What does this mean to today's post? It means that this is not the first time a TV ad campaign prompted me to try a new fast food product - for better or worse.

In fact, the first time was when KFC introduced the Double Down "sandwich" that used two pieces of fried chicken, instead of a bun. (You can read about that adventure - and my opinion of the movie "Avatar" - here.)

In the past seven years, however, I've come to feel that I'm writing this blog more for you than for me. And so this time around, I was trying out something new for you. Also for Science. And for the Greater Good. (And... well... I'm trying to italicize a bunch of things so that I can try to justify eating ridiculous junk food for lunch. Is it working?)

As you may have guessed (if you watch commercials and such), this time around - for you, Science, and the Greater Good - I decided to try the Taco Bell Naked Chicken Chalupa.

Let me introduce you to it via one of their ads:

Basically, like the KFC Double Down, they've replaced the bread component with fried chicken. So... Since all last month we were looking at Fried Dough, I thought it only appropriate to start this month with Fried Non-Dough.

I'd like to start by saying that the worst part of the entire experience was having to ask for a "Naked Chicken Chalupa." It feels a bit odd asking a stranger for anything naked, really, and - frankly - this might be one of the big drawbacks of their marketing.

The price is good, though, and for $5 (plus tax), you can actually get a "Naked Chicken Chalupa Big Box" meal. (Naked... big box... seriously - were the marketers hoping to sell a lot of these in red light districts?)

My $5 got me a big box, as well as a medium soda. (Pepsi. ugh. But that's a whole different issue.)

Yes, I brought this home and staged it all on the same counter I use for all of my cooking. I wanted to make sure the photos were unbiased.
Inside the Big Box, you find:

  • A "Doritos Locos" taco (the shell is literally made of the same stuff as Nacho Cheese Doritos - an interesting idea for flavor, but messy, both due to the nacho cheese dust and the fact that it's not overly sturdy).
  • A regular hard-shell taco.
  • A foil-wrapped Naked Chicken Chalupa.
If I had been at Taco John's, I'd totally have had a side of Potato Oles, but... well... we can dream.
We're not going to discuss the two tacos, here, aside from saying that I will never be choosing to order a Doritos Locos taco on its own. Way too much gimmick for the payoff.

On the other hand, we are talking Naked Chicken Chalupa, so I started by unwrapping it to see whether it looked as scary as it sounded.

Short answer: yes. I mean... it looks like this weird stuffed fried chicken thing. (Which... well... it is.)

I don't know what I expected, but I was happily surprised to see standard Taco Bell lettuce, tomato, and cheese falling out of the side.

Time to put my food where my mouth is, so I went in for a not-as-messy-as-I-expected bite.

Again - plated, so that you can see it as food, instead of as fast food.
Okay. I'm not gonna lie. I really liked it.

They've apparently marinated the chicken in something - it's kind of tangy, like a good lime/cilantro marinade - and the fry on the outside isn't so aggressive that it's painful to bite into.

It actually seemed - and I stressed seemed - kind of healthy, with the light fry, and the lettuce and tomato. (Until, you know, I stopped and thought about the fact that a softshell taco with grilled, marinated chicken would have had most of the same flavor but probably 1/4 of the calories...)

Would I eat it again? Well... umm... I already went back for another one, so - yes.

Should you try it? Honestly, it's up to you. It's definitely a marketing ploy to get people to "make a run for the border." (Hmm... I don't suppose that old marketing line will ever be used during the current presidential administration...) But... I heard this week that the Naked Chicken Chalupa is actually being discontinued sometime in March. So if you do want to try it, you'd better go soon.

(Don't worry... Next week we get back to me actually working in the kitchen - and making a bit of a mess.)

Don't forget that I'm always on the lookout for recipes to try out - whether you're looking for something you've only heard of, or wanting someone else to try a recipe that you're a little afraid of - shoot me a line and I'll see what I can do!

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