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Gortons Shrimp Bowl Meal Review – With Black Garlic and Wine Risotto

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Gortons Shrimp Bowl Meal Review I personally think that the sudden glut of frozen heat and eat meals at the grocery is due to the success of the “meal kit” business.

Those deals where they send you portion cut ingredients and a recipe and it’s supposed to be so easy to create a gourmet meal with no fuss.  ( I tried them when they came out, read about that here. Spendy and no less work, sez I).

So all sorts of frozen food companies have come out with meals, kits, and there are fast food branded ones, and even the big grocery chains and WalMart have their own take on the concept.

My experiment today is from the Gorton’s company, (over 150 years old)  the people you’re used to buying crispy seafood filets and fish sticks that never get crispy.  This is a shrimp bowl, with ‘black garlic and wine” (sauce) rissotto.

I know a dozen people who won’t even try risotto from scratch at home, so this is a surprise.  In smaller print, there’s a reference to ‘parmesan cheese,’ but to me, that was the predominant flavor in the rice.

Here’s the full ingredient list: (Cooked arborio rice, Shrimp (Shrimp, salt, sodium di-, tri-, and polyphosphate [to retain moisture], sodium bisulfite and sodium citrate [preservatives]), water, mushrooms (mushrooms, water, salt), olive oil, cream, Parmesan cheese (pasteurized cow’s milk, cheese culture, salt, enzymes, black garlic and wine seasoning (maltodextrin, dehydrated garlic, vinegar solids, modified corn starch, spices, malic acid, dehydrated parsley, black garlic powder, soy lecithin, lactic acid, jalapeño pepper, white wine solids, natural flavors), onions, corn starch, garlic (garlic, water), butter, white wine (contains sulfites), sea salt, parsley, tara gum).

There were  about 8-9 shrimp in the bowl, which are frozen solid, of course, so when you microwave (three minutes, stir, one minute) a lot of the trapped moisture in the shrimp is going to escape and they are going to shrink.  So I added a half dozen, because I had them on hand, and I could.  There are mushrooms, which retained their texture well. They look like slices of baby bellas.  The box says a “hint of parmesan” but as I said above, I think it’s a pretty dominant flavor.

The risotto was creamy as it should be and the shrimp remained very firm, as they should be too.

Bottom line?  I surprised myself and liked it.  Not sure if it’s supposed to be two servings or not, it wouldn’t have been at my house.  It was a comfortably sized serving for me.

It was $5.99 and a bogo yesterday.  There’s a coupon below you might want to try.  Their Entire product line.   Where you can pick some up.

Gortons Shrimp Bowl Meal Review

Frozen, out of the box

Gortons Shrimp Bowl Meal Review

Plated after microwave

Gortons Shrimp Bowl Meal Review

Coupon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gortons Shrimp Bowl Meal Review

Gortons Shrimp Bowl Meal Review

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Harpers Country Ham Review

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Harpers Country Ham ReviewMan I love good ham. OK, I love bad ham, too.  But “country cured” – a dry cure lengthy process with salt, hickory smoked,  that’ll get me everytime. I’ve driven back roads of Missouri, Virginia, the Carolinas and Kentucky in search of small processors.

I’d never heard of Harper’s, even tho they’ve been around since 1952, and I might not have ever heard of them as they suffered a devastating fire last year and had to look around for a frenemy to cure their pork for them.  Which they found in “Goodnight Brothers” of Boone, NC.

I ran into these hams at BOOMLAND!  a retail oddity on I-57 (and two other locations) in Missouri. Giant fireworks stores, knick-knacks, regional foods, ice cream parlor, and discount tobacconist.  I prefer the boneless biscuit size slice packages (which are only biscuit sized if your biscuits are the size of a small frisbee).  I bought all they had.  It was a BOGO thing.  It freezes fine.

Country cured ham can be very salty. Many people give it a simmer in water prior to frying, baking, whatever.  I’ve also known people who soak it in cold water overnight, or in the case of a whole ham, for several days.

I do or don’t, cause I love the flavor.  I eat it on its own as a snack, on sandwiches, but especially for breakfast.

Happy I found the product.  Sad I won’t run into it again for a few years.  Probably. Tho Goldbely has it for shipping from time to time it seems.

Harpers was the winner of the 2013 and 2014 National Champion Country Ham. 2013 Grand Champion Ham at Kentucky State Fair.

Harpers Country Ham Review

 

 

 

 

 

Harpers Country Ham Review

Harpers Country Ham Review

 

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Panamei Seafood Review – in Grocery Stores Nationwide

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Panamei Seafood ReviewPanamei is one of the brands available from Quirch Foods, an importer, exporter, distributor of quality products to groceries and industrial accounts.

They trace their roots back to the early 20th century in Cuba, then after 59, immigrated to Puerto Rico, set up there, and finally to establish a base in the Miami area, where they are today.

The work the entire gamut of food – beef, pork, poultry and seafood – fresh and frozen.

I was attracted to their frozen seafood because of specials one of my local grocers was running, several weeks in a row.  I hadn’t noticed the product line in the past.

First item up was one pound frozen blocks of lobster meat.  Their lobster comes from Central America. The package ingredients say: lobster. Period. You should slow defrost it in the frig for 24-36 hours. It is raw. I chose to steam it, then gave the meat a quick char under the broiler.  Mind you, this isn’t one or two small tails, this is loose meat, from tails and claws.  Good for sandwiches, salads, bisque, bouillabaise, and casseroles.

The reason I broke the speed limit to get to the store the day I noticed the product in the circular, is because it was marked at $7.  A pound. Lobster meat.

And it was delicious.  Yes, there are a few packs in the freezer.  This time around it evolved into tasty lobster rolls, split buttered, toasted bun, slight memo and finely diced celery bits in the salad.

Following week it was shrimp.  Good size (13-15), great value at $6 a pound.  Sourced from Southeast Asia, package ingredients, shrimp, salt, water.  The flesh was very flavorful and firm.  It was great on skewers on the grill. I’m damned picky about my shrimp, having lived in New Orleans for years. This meets the grade. Yes, I stocked up on this, also.

Check the products out if you run across them. Don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Panamei Seafood Review

 

 

Store locator.

Panamei Seafood Review

Panamei Seafood Review

 

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Wahlburgers At Home Review – Ground Beef at the Grocery

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Wahlburgers At Home ReviewSo the Wahlberg family from Boston, ex con, one celebrity, one half celebrity, one fry cook, one overbearing parent.

Start a burger restaurant, sign lots of expansion deals – “coming soon” is their most famous location. Wahlburgers they call it.

They’ve made a big deal with the Iowa-base grocery chain of Hy-Vee, which is attempting to set the pace in the new genre of “groceraunt.” Yeah, we’ll see.

They expanded to grocer counters as a premium brand of patties or bulk, at my store in the range of $8 a pound.

Blend of chuck, brisket and short rib. Blends are the new “thing” in burgers. New as far as the mass market, not new to high end suppliers to restaurants.  I pan fried a patty, and found it had more than adequate beef  flavor, but is a very fine grind (not my preference). Curiously, there was  nearly 1/2 c grease left in skillet from 1 lb burgers. But the patties crumbled. So lean to begin with or all the fat cooked out?  I can’t anwer that.

(Note broken patty on bun pic) Be a disaster on an outdoor grill, me thinks. Odd labeling on package: “Color is not a good indication of
freshness.” (Tested without condiments or seasoning). Worth $8 a pound? Nope.

According to the USDA plant number on the package, the Wahlbergs have contracted with AVA Pork of New York, to make and package the product.  AVA has been supplying institutional users since 1985, primarily in pork.

Want to visit one of their restaurants? Locations.

I tried one of the competitors recently, Schweid & Son, which I wrote about here. So the Wahlbergs aren’t going to be on my shopping list regularly, but I do wish them success.

If money was no object, I’d put Creekstone Farms as my favorite ground beef supplier, found in a lot of fast casual restaurants, like The Company Burger in New Orleans.  Pat LaFrieda, who sells to Shake Shack, would be number two, and these Schweid fellas come in third.

 

 

 

 

Wahlburgers At Home Review

Wahlburgers At Home Review

 

 

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Schweid & Sons Burger Patties Review

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Schweid & Sons Burger Patties ReviewDifferent blends of beef for burgers have been the rage for awhile.

The method not only provides distinctive flavor and texture, but also gives processors a premium product.

Until recently, you only ran into these in restaurants, unless you have an able butcher who was willing to do it for you in-house.

Schweid & Sons is a large purveyor of quality ground beef, with a meat business heritage that dates back more than 120 years. Starting in New York’s Lower East Side, eventually, succeeding generations of family members chose to focus only on ground beef, and moved to a modern federally inspected factor in New Jersey (pic below),, just five miles from midtown Manhattan.

The company has grown exponentially with the rise in burgers as a steady part of American diets.  They furnished the Five Guys chain with meat when they had just a few stores, and still do today. The serve a host of other regional chains as well as the East Coast locations of Fatburger.

Schweid has expanded to the retail market and placed their attractively packaged products in grocery stores across the country.  They have a number of different blends.

(Sidebar – I crave finding a burger in a restaurant where the meat patty stands on its own as exceptional – thinking I could do that at home has been only a dream).

I opted for their C.A.B Blend – Chuck and brisket, tho the packaging does not say what percentage. They start with Certified Angus Beef, a designation and label you’re probably used to seeing in your deli or meat counter.

The package (fresh, not frozen, tho I can’t say whether or not they were frozen in transit), contains four patties of 5.3 ounces each.  Which at my store, works out to just north of $6 per pound.

I cooked mine on the grill with a quick sear on each side then low and slow to very rare. Condiment free, I nestled the patties onto a kaiser.  You can see the thickness of the raw patty in my hand below, compared to the cooked on – very little shrinkage.

FOR MY MONEY, this is an exceptional burger. The texture is exactly my preference, and the patty tastes like beef, which you may think is a strange thing to say, but I’m a stickler for believing meat should taste like the actual animal. These are just great. Cliche, I know, but they really do taste like quality chopped steak.

There’s a whole host of frozen patties in the grocery freezers these days, some are pre-cooked, some not, some are no name, some are emblazoned with the name of known fast food restaurants.  I’ve tried most all of them and always been disappointed.  Here’s some of them.

I hope this experiment in wide spread distribution works for Schweid and Sons. I’d also be thrilled if they had some bulk one pound packages to use the product in recipe.

Here’s where you can find these fine, fine burgers near you.

Schweid & Sons Burger Patties Review

Packaging

Schweid & Sons Burger Patties Review

Patty thickness

Schweid & Sons Burger Patties Review

On the grill – rare

Schweid & Sons Burger Patties Review

Processing plant

 

 

 

 

Schweid & Sons Burger Patties Review

Schweid & Sons Burger Patties Review

 

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Outsiders Pizza Review – Nationwide Frozen Food Product

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Outsiders Pizza ReviewDo you remember when craft beer started to take off, to the surprise of the giant brewers?

So what did they do, they created spin-off “mini-companies” with new brews, and marketing them as such.  So we didn’t know that Miller (or whomever) was behind “Bob’s Garage Brew – the beer made with sink water from Bob’s house.”  Well, you get the idea.

So I stumble on this new frozen pie from “Outsider’s Pizza Company” someone I’ve never heard of, and according to the box, they are based in somewhere, Ohio.  “Interesting” I said to no one.

They had two pies in the frozen aisle, “Detroit style” and “Milwaukee style.”  I like Detroit style pizza, and to my knowledge, nobody in the segment is doing a frozen one.  None of the Detroit chains have expanded nationwide (like Buddy’s).  Little Caesars deep dish is a mass appeal version of the product, but not very true to the original.

A Detroit style pizza is rectangular, a thick crust which resembles focaccia bread, chewy, but extra crispy around the edges. This effect can come from one of two methods, running the cheese out to, past the edge of the pie and it drips down during baking making a caramelized edge. Or some places simply brush the crust with butter before baking.   Cheese.  Some apply a modest amount of sauce before baking, other insist on drizzling sauce after baking, not covering the entire surface, tho. Toppings are conventional.

IN ANY CASE, (geez, get to it, would you!!!??!)  the Outsider’s Pizza Company is like the giant beer companies microbrews – it’s actually part of the Nestle pizza line (which they acquired from Kraft) and includes DiGiornos, California Pizza Kitchen, Jacks, and Tombstone.

I’m gonna say Nestle’s frozen Detroit style pizza is a fairly good effort. Whoever comes into the market next will improve on the concept, undoubtedly.

The crust is ok, bread-like, and the edges have a modest caramelization, not complete.  I don’t care for the sauce which tastes, to me, awfully industrial, mass production. Cheese was adequate and the topping (salami) was flavorful.

Lo and behold, behold and low upon further examination, the pies are made in the same factory as DiGiornos, which isn’t even a Nestle factory, but a contract manufacturer down the street from me in Chicago.  Nation Pizza.

Here I wanted to actually be made by some “outsiders” so I could applaud their industry as a start-up.  Damn.

Outsiders Pizza Review

Baked pie, 27 minutes at 400.

Outsiders Pizza Review

Semi caramelized crust, note crust thickness

 

 

 

 

Outsiders  Pizza Review

Outsiders  Pizza Review

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Hometown Sausage Kitchen Gyro Sausage Review

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Hometown Sausage Kitchen Gyro Sausage ReviewThe ‘gyro’ is a Greek inspired sandwich, with meat (generally beef and lamb) cooked on a vertical roaster, placed in a pita, dressed with tomato, cucumber, and tatziki sauce.

Some purveyors add lettuce and onion. The word “gyro” is from the Greek word for “circle” or “turn.”

The meat is generally seasoned with salt, hot and sweet paprika, white  and black pepper, dried parsley, garlic powder, and oregano.

First developed by the Turks in the 19th century, and called “Doner Kabab” it took until 1971 for the entree to be popular in the US (primarily Chicago and New York) and til the mid 70s before a select group of companies entered large scale production.

Today, nearly any diner or local fast food place in Chicago will offer you a gyro sandwich or plate (no bread). But as much as Chicago is also a “sausage town” I’ve always been curious as to why someone hasn’t taken gyro seasoned meat and placed it in a natural casing to eat on a hot dog bun.

Inquiries to the largest gyro meat suppliers in Chicago have gone unanswered.

So I’m on one of my wandering trips last week, Southern Wisconsin, pull into the burg of East Troy and discover small processor Hometown Sausage Kitchen.

And darn if they don’t make them (gyro sausages). They run about a quarter pound each, at $9.00 a pound.

Ingredients are ground lamb and pork, water, salt, garlic, spices, red wine veingar powder, lemon juice powder, citric acid in a natural hog casing

I brought some home, par-boiled them, and finished them off on a flat top before slapping them into a substantial Turano roll with the aforementioned condiments.

Hog heaven, so to speak.

The sausage makers have perfectly captured the flavor of gyro meat. The grind is fine and the casing just sturdy enough.  These would be a great addition to any cookout.  This weekend, I will try some as a breakfast sausage, fried and cut on a bias.

Chicago sausage manufacturers are missing a bet not getting into this segment.

Hometown Sausage Kitchen is located just outside of East Troy, WI. Exit off I-43, take a right at the end of the ramp, then a left onto County Road L, and it’s about a mile ahead of you on the left. (picture below). They have a lot of spectacular, high quality processed pork products, and while they are primarily a wholesale operation, they do have retail on site, open Tue thru Sat at 9AM.  They also appear at farmer’s markets in the Chicago area.

Hometown Sausage Kitchen Gyro Sausage Review

Packaging

Hometown Sausage Kitchen Gyro Sausage Review

Two beauties ready for the flat top

 

Hometown Sausage Kitchen Gyro Sausage Review

Not as pretty as I imagined, but unbelievably delicious

building

Processing plant and retail outlet.

 

 

 

 

Hometown Sausage Kitchen Gyro Sausage Review

Hometown Sausage Kitchen Gyro Sausage Review

 

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Gloriosos Fresh Italian Sausage Review – Milwaukee, WI

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Gloriosos Fresh Italian Sausage ReviewToday I used some of their fresh Italian sausages for a home-made pizza. I only picked up two, of the “hot” not “sweet” variety, and they run about four ounces apiece at about a buck twenty per.

I have this quirk which there is no rhyme nor reason for. When I’m making a sausage pizza, I don’t buy bulk sausage, but links, strip off the casings and use hand-pulled pieces for my topping.

You don’t have to pre-cook it, but you can if you like. It cooks just fine on top of the pie in the regular baking cycle.

So I made my dough, laid on the sauce, some finely diced garlic and sliced cheeses (provolone and mozz – slices melt nicer than shreds, in my opinion).

Then I symmetrically laid out bits of sausage, a sprinkle of Italian herbs, and my personal “go-to” topping, diced green olives with pimentos.

Using fresh dough, it bakes up nicely at 500 for 10-12 minutes.

Glorioso’s hot sausage is a bit hot, it turns out. Most of the time when I select that type of sausage, “hot” means lots of fennel and Italian herbs. But this wasn’t objectional at all, had great flavor, proper about of fat and great texture.

I only bought two as I said.  I should have bought a couple dozen.

Gloriosos Fresh Italian Sausage Review

Gloriosos Fresh Italian Sausage Review

Gloriosos Fresh Italian Sausage Review

 

Gloriosos Fresh Italian Sausage Review

Gloriosos Fresh Italian Sausage Review

Gloriosos Fresh Italian Sausage Review

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Gloriosos Italian Market Review – Milwaukee, WI

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Gloriosos Italian Market ReviewSeventy-year-old Glorioso’s in Milwaukee is one of several fine Italian deli/groceries the city has to offer.

If it’s even remotely Italian, Glorioso’s has it on the shelf, in the counter or in the cooler. It’s a wonderland for foodies and cooks alike.  Naturally, I stocked up.  Sausages. Cheese. A muffaletta sandwich. So let’s talk about that.  Purportely invented a zillion years ago by immigrants in New Orleans, the “muff” is traditionally a nine inch round loaf, bedazzled with sesame seeds, with two or three types of Italian cold cuts, cheese, and topped with “olive salad” – which is finely diced vegetables and olives in oil.

The result is a messy wonderland – most people can’t eat a whole one, and happily, Glorioso’s has “halves” in their counter.

I put away more than my share, living in New Orleans, and have written about several of them. Tourists like to go to the store that is supposedly the birthplace. I prefer a dive bar uptown.

Glorioso’s could easily pass in New Orleans.  I enjoyed it. If I knew how much I was going to like it, I’d have stocked up. Only “complaint?”  A little light on the olive salad.   (I bought a jar of their mix to bring home, as well).

Scored a fantastic dry salami, “Licini Cacciatore.”  I love when processed meats actually taste like the animal they came from, and this is soGloriosos Italian Market Reviewme great pork.  BTW, the name means (Cacciatore) “hunter”  and (Lincini) Bent or pointing upwards.  It’s a very hard salami, with a robust flavor.

Their beef/pork meatballs have a great flavor, run about a buck apiece, I brought home four to try. They have an awful lot of ingredients compared to the ones I make at home, which are just beef, pork, milk, bread, fennel, parsley, garlic and basil.  Glorioso’s balls are a very fine grind, good for the mass appeal market. My own balls have a rougher texture, chewier. My preference only.

Salads, olives, meats, cheese, entrees, they are all in the counter. You can order a sandwich or a plate, pasta, panini or pizza. (They have take and bakes also).  Their full menu is below.

Staff is personable and knowledgeable about the products.

Really worth a stop if you are passing through.  Really worth being on your regular shopping route if you live there. I will be back. Often.  (I had planned on writing more, but doing this made me hungry, have to go see what I have left from my trip!)

Gloriosos Italian Market Review

Half a Muffaletta Sandwich

 Gloriosos Italian Market Review

Gloriosos Italian Market Review

Glorioso Menu – Click to enlarge

Gloriosos Italian Market ReviewGloriosos Italian Market ReviewGloriosos Italian Market Review
Glorioso's Italian Market Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Gloriosos Italian Market Review

Gloriosos Italian Market Review

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All About Cheese Curds

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All About Cheese CurdsIf you’re not from the Upper Midwest of the US or Eastern Canada, it’s possible you’ve never heard of “cheese curds.”

What are they? In short, bits of fresh, unaged, cheese, snatched from the cheese making at the earliest stage possible. They are eaten fresh, fried, atop the national Canadian snack “poutine,” and in the Indian dishes, it is known as paneer.

Fresh and fried are the way you’ll see them most often in the Midwest. I think the fresh ones are pretty much the same in taste and texture, unless they are “flavored” as some companies are busy doing (dill, red pepper, garlic, etc). Some people refer to fresh curds as “squeaky cheese” as the bits make a slight noise when you’re chewing them.

At retail, they’re sold in bags larger than you need, usually around a pound.  It’s unusual to run into smaller containers, but you may, on occasion.

When you get into the business of deep frying them, with a breading, that’s where quality, taste and texture can vary widely. Some end up like those awful fried cheese appetizers in bars, with that fake bright yellow nacho cheese crap inside.

The good ones, the really good ones, like at Milwaukee Burger Company, are offered to you with your choice of cheese, and a light yet crispy breading that may well be rice flour. They are breaded and cooked to order and are fantastic.

I picked up a mini pack of fresh, made by Jim’s Cheeses of Waterloo, WI.  Bought them at the world’s largest purveyor of Wisconsin cheeses (so they say), Wisconsin Cheese Mart in downtown Milwaukee.

White Cheddar with Peppers.  Tell you the truth, didn’t notice the word “Peppers” or would have looked for something else.  These were $3.50, so that comes out to $16 + per pound. Spendy.  But tasty.

All About Cheese Curds

Curds. Curds. Curds.

 

 

 

 

All About Cheese Curds

All About Cheese Curds

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