21 October 2013

Benito vs. The Bell Beefer

It's been a while since I've done one of these goofy food challenges, in which I confront myself and the concept of good taste. From the 1960s to the early 1990s, depending on your location, Taco Bell produced a Mexicanized sloppy joe known as the Bell Beefer. It was previously known as the Bell Burger, then the Bell Beefer, and then the Bell Beefer Supreme variant, but in the popular consciousness, the simple "Bell Beefer" moniker stuck.

One could say that it is a fast food version of the Mexico City torta, but let's be honest: it was a way to shove a handful of the half dozen primary Taco Bell ingredients into something other than a tortilla or a taco shell. Supposedly the item was discontinued because it was too messy and would fall apart, but anyone who has attempted to consume a Baja chalupa while driving knows that this is a spurious argument.

I hadn't thought about this particular bit of fast food history until listening to an episode of the Adam Carolla Podcast in which he lamented the demise of the Bell Beefer. And thus, on a Sunday afternoon with the sun shining and having all of the ingredients at hand, I decided to recreate the Bell Beefer, although with my own modifications. Hipster nostalgia for pop culture and modern enthusiasm for the slider meet with...

Benito's Bell Beefer Pequeño

I really don't need to spell out the recipe here other than to say drain your ground beef before adding the water and taco seasoning packet. I added some dried ancho chili flakes and a splash of red wine to the meat mixture, and instead of the usual shredded iceberg lettuce, I sliced up some mesclun greens and baby spinach.

The end result was... underwhelming. Turns out that it is kind of a mess to eat, and the bun to flavor ratio is way off. A real sloppy joe (or the buffalo version I once made) is more savory, while a slider or a torta is more flavorful. Still, it was fun to make, and at the end of the day, the name Bell Beefer continues to make me laugh.

No comments: