From the July/August 2022 issue of Car and Driver.
If there was more room on the front cover of the print magazine, we’d push for a renaming to “Car and Driver Headed to Lunch Magazine,” because the only thing this group loves as much as being behind the wheel is finding somewhere to eat afterward. In an attempt to combine our favorite activities, we searched out as many car-themed recipes as we could find, and here they are, tested and rated for your enjoyment.
Transportation-shaped noodles make the perfect vehicle to haul cheese and butter to our bellies. A recurring theme to these dishes is that we found them on websites catering to children. That they speak so much to us as adults is something we would prefer not to examine about ourselves. This combo of trains, planes, motorcycles, and li’l coupes declared itself “Pasta Gourmet 4 Kids,” and it would be great in a cheese sauce for some youngsters. We tried to adult it up with an anchovy-butter sauce and a topping of parsley and parmesan.
RecipeEase: Can you boil water?
Verdict: 7/10 A mass transit meal.
Get the Pasta
Pastel de CARne
Three different animals. Four Kinds of Meat. Some sort of PT Cruiser/VW mashup? It will clog your arteries like rush-hour traffic. There’s no recipe link for this one because this is a terror straight from the depths of our own souls. Any two-pound meatloaf recipe will work. We found the loaf needed about 20 minutes’ more cooking time to reach a safe internal temp than a standard meatloaf, but don’t worry: the coating of two kinds of bacon kept it from getting dry.
Here’s a basic rundown:
1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground pork or turkey
2 strips of bacon, cut to fit for roof
4 Canadian bacon rounds, trimmed to fit wheel wells (we used an upside-down shot glass to cut them out)
1 cup instant mashed potatoes (or bread crumbs)
Seasoning of choice (we used horseradish, mustard, salt, pepper)
Two carrot rounds for headlights
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
Mix ground meats and seasoning and potato flakes. This bit is really gross; try not to think about it too much. Oil pan with nonstick spray and place bacon at roofline, Canadian bacon at wheels, and carrot rounds at headlights. Slowly add ground mixture to pan, taking care not to disturb wheels and headlights. Disturbing yourself by wondering why you are making a meat car is okay. Pat mixture firmly in place, coat with ketchup, and place the car pan inside a normal bread pan (this is so the top doesn’t burn and also so meat juice doesn’t get all over your oven).
Bake one hour and 20 minutes, or until meat thermometer reads 160 degrees F. Remove and cool for 30 minutes. Carefully invert over serving tray. Brown exterior with torch (this bit is super fun, but do it outside in case you catch things on fire). Decorate as desired with mashed potato burnout and serve, alongside my apologies.
RecipeEase: Just because it can be done doesn’t mean it should be done.
Verdict: 5/10 A delicious horror show. All monstrosity aside, this was a damn good meatloaf.
Get the Pan
It’s a race through your digestive tract! Once again, a recipe straight from the kids’ party book. This one is a winner, though. Yes, it’s just hot dogs with little wheels, but they are fun to make, and a hot dog with cucumber is a surprisingly delicious flavor and texture combo. Make hot dogs however you normally do. Cut thick rounds of cucumber and half cherry tomatoes for wheels. Assemble on toothpicks and insert into bun. We added tomato-headed drivers and pretzel steering wheels.
RecipeEase: Considerably easier than qualifying for the Indy 500.
Verdict: 9/10 The cucumber wheels make it healthy.
Custom snacks that can scrape a frame and lift a wheel. There was some discussion as to whether these celery cars were lowriders or off-road buggies, but either way they’ve got suspension articulation for days, so drop ’em low or send them rallying through a forest of broccoli. They are easy to make no matter where you plan to drive them. Insert toothpicks through celery, add carrot wheels, and then fill celery with peanut butter or guacamole, or cream cheese if you’re that weirdo. Add a driver with a raisin, olive, or chocolate chip, whatever goes best with your filling.
RecipeEase: Much faster than pinstriping and lace painting.
Verdict: 8/10 Bounce-Bounce, Crunch-Crunch.
Sugar High (Roller)
Honey, I just wonder what you do there in the back of your Gummi Cadillac . . . Much as there is a pervert for every fetish—meatloaf pervs, do not contact us—there is a Gummi candy for any shape you could imagine. We’ve found Gummi race cars in the past, but this time we decided to go upscale, in gelatin pink Cadillacs. The flavor was fine, but we had some texture complaints. A Caddy should be a soft ride; these were sports car firm.
RecipeEase: As smooth as the ride in an Eldorado. Just pour ’em out of the bag.
Verdict: 3/10 So chewy, your dentist will be able to afford a new Escalade after replacing all your fillings.
Get the Gummis
Our respect for paint and body experts increased with every cookie. Tip your hat to the holiday sugar-cookie baker in your family, because this is hard! We initially tried Pillsbury premade dough, which spread out too much to hold the shape of our detailed cutters. Is that a Bronco? A Land Rover? A sleeping hippopotamus? The next batch we tried was easy to mix up but had a tendency to crumble, and all the resulting cookies looked like they had underlying rust problems. Our final recipe was more work and ingredients, but the cookies came out smooth and highly detailed. The decoration after that could still use a bit of work. Tips: Freeze your cutouts before baking, and trade in your wooden rolling pin for a nonstick one.
RecipeEase: It took four different recipe tests to find one that held up, and we had to eat all the failures.
Verdict: 6/10 The 914 was probably the most authentic, as most of the real ones are all crumbs now, too.
Get the Cookie Cutters
If we could get away with filling a full-size truck bed with syrup, we would. Is this car-shaped-waffle maker meant for kids? We don’t care, it’s so great. The pickup beds are the best, with their increased cargo room for butter, syrup, and berries. It takes some practice to work out the exact right fill amount to get all the details and minimal overflow, and the iron does get hot, so if you are doing this with kids, make sure they keep their fingers out until it cools down.
RecipeEase: Much like real cars, lubrication of metal parts is a key to nonstick performance.
Verdict: 8/10 An early-morning car meet worth getting up for.
Get the Waffle Iron
Whip a Brodie
Being bad on baked goods. This is an internet cliché gracing Instagram accounts every holiday, but we can see why. It looks great, and it’s incredibly easy to do. Our only tip is to wait until serving before spinning those wheels. Just like a real burnout, it dissipates over time, and then you’re just left with soggy pie and tire cords.
RecipeEase: Just a Reddi Wip can away.
Verdict: 10/10 A way to do burnouts on Thanksgiving without ruining your in-laws’ driveway.
If you try any of these, tag @CarandDriver in your online photos. Unless it’s the meatloaf. We don’t want to see that again.