I wanted to get back to some recipes from the Western Dubuque Marching Band Cook Book. So I started flipping through the pages to find something to cook. And while I thought it might be fun to randomly pick things, like bubble pizza (which calls for 2 canisters of instant biscuits) or Barbecued Ham Balls (which calls for graham and/or Ritz crackers), I decided to ask some of Sarah’s siblings to provide suggestions. I got this from Sarah’s sister:
I like Chicken Breasts Supreme recipe on page 219. I have also made the Taco Pie recipe on page 241. The kids and I like it, but Ben does not. I also make the Broccoli salad on page 277 quite a bit.
I decided on the Taco Pie, because it sounded the most ridiculous and because Ben doesn’t like it. But also, since I do like Iowan Taco Pizza quite a bit, I thought this would probably be good. After all, the recipe calls for crushed Doritos.
- 1 lb hamburger
- taco seasoning
- 1 can refrigerated crescent rolls
- 1 C sour cream
- 1 C cheddar cheese
- 1/2 C water
- 1 C corn chips
- taco sauce
“Brown hamburger and drain. Add water and taco seasoning. Roll crescent rolls over pie pan. Crush corn chips in bottom of pan. Meat mixture next, sour cream over meat. Add shredded cheese and more corn chips over sour cream. Bake on 375 for 15-20 minutes. Spread lettuce and tomatoes over top.”
Keep in mind that I have never seen a taco pie before. The Western Dubuque Marching Band Cook Book does not have pictures. I could kind of imagine in my mind’s eye what this was supposed to look like, but I was winging it.
I unrolled the crescent rolls from the canister and looked at my pie pan. The dimensions weren’t quite right. The rolls were rectangular and the pie pan was round. I rolled it out with my new rollling pin that my mother-in-law bought me for christmas. I rolled it out until the dough would cover the entire area of the bottom and sides of the pie pan. Then, I put it inside and cut the extra edges off. Remember, rectangle dough vs circle pan.
I thought about savings the extra edges and putting like a criss cross of dough on top of the pie. I thought it would just look hilarious to have a taco pie that had a weaved basket top like a fancy apple pie. But I didn’t quite have enough extra dough for that. So I just doubled up on the crust. I figured, it would give it a nice, extra crusty edge to the pie slices. I presumed that the taco pie would tighten up so that I could slice it, like a pumpkin pie rather than a chicken pot pie.
Then, I crushed the Doritos on top. This was fun and made my hands yellow. Well, yellow-er, I suppose.
Although the recipe didn’t specify nacho cheese doritos, I assumed that that is what it meant. After all, both taco pizza and walking tacos utilize nacho cheese corn chips. I can’t wait until summer to have a walking taco in Iowa. If you don’t know what they are, they will blow your mind.
I had already made the meat ahead of time. I used a lower sodium packet of taco seasoning and ground turkey (it was buy one get one free). I followed those instructions, so I used a different kind of meat and a different amount of water than the Western Dubuque Marching Band Cook Book called for.
When the meat was done, I added that on top. Then, I tried to use a spatula to spread on the sour cream. If I make this again, I will skip the sour cream. The recipe is rich enough without it. And this step was annoying and messy.
Then, there was a second layer of crushed Doritos. (I know, awesome.) Then, there was the cup of shredded cheddar cheese.
I put this into the oven and waited. In the meantime, I shredded the lettuce and the tomatoes. The recipe didn’t tell you how much of either to prepare, so I extrapolated. A taco pizza generally is blanketed with shredded lettuce. And the amount of tomatoes is usually heavier than what you would think would be sensible. Therefore, a Taco Pie must necessarily be similar – too much lettuce and too much tomatoes.
Also, the recipe didn’t specify which kind of lettuce to use. I shredded half a head of iceberg lettuce because I’ve never been to any restaurant in Iowa where lettuce does not always mean iceberg. Sometimes in Iowa, the word “lettuce” is used as a reference to “salad.” At Country Junction in Dyersville, which is one of my favorite places to eat ever, they ask you what kind of dressing you would like on your lettuce.
“Western” is an acceptable response to this question, believe it or not.
When the pie came out of the oven, it looked shockingly appetizing, and it smelled fantastic. So savory, it made your mouth water. And it seemed like a shame to blanket it with lettuce and tomatoes. But, the recipes in the Western Dubuque Marching Band Cook Book are from the golden age of American casserolery, and I was not about to argue with such pedigree.
The recipe does not tell you what to do with the taco sauce that it calls for. When I first read the recipe, I thought it might go in between the meat and cheese layers. Apparently, you use it as a condiment. I used habanero sauce because I like spicy things. Sarah topped hers with additional sour cream because she does not like habanero sauce.
This meal was delicious. Sarah and I both loved it, especially since it was becoming seasonably cold in Chicago. It was a lot like a mix between a taco pizza and a deep dish pizza. And, although I am not all that clear on the history of the deep dish, I could be convinced that casseroles like this were their culinary predecessors. After all, the crescent rolls on the bottom were slightly crispy, slightly doughy, and slightly sweet: all descriptions that apply to a deep dish pizza pie crust. (which is also why I really think that a deep dish pizza should more accurately be referred to as Chicago style pizza casserole).
Straight out of the oven, the pie slices didn’t really keep their shape. But, when I went back for thirds about two hours later as a late night snack, the pie slices held up their shape in a gravity-defying way that was pleasant and amusing.
Sarah never mentioned having remembered eating this as a child, so I wonder if this was something Sarah’s sister, who is also a Western Dubuque Marching Band alum, found on her own. Either way, I was supremely happy with the recommendation. It was really tasty and an enjoyable food adventure.
I could see why Ben wouldn’t like it though.
(If you aren’t familiar with what the WDHS Marching Band Cook Book is, click here for my explanation of this historic tome.)