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Posts Tagged ‘Country fried steak’

Boston Market Country Fried Steak Review

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Boston Market Country Fried Steak ReviewBear with me as I take you on this journey of magical heat and eat meals. Today’s example, “Boston Market” Country Fried Steak.

A frozen entree, with mash potatoes and cream gravy. Boston Market, like many companies, does not actually produce this product, but licenses their name to  Bellisio Foods, a company I know a bit about.

Bellisio is the successor to Michelina’s, which in turn was the successor of two early heat/fix and eat food companies, Jeno’s Pizza, and Chun King Chinese foods.

Both companies were started on a shoestring in Northern Minnesota, by local son of an  immigrant entrepreneur, Jeno Paulucci. He built both companies to attain tens of millions in annual revenue, and sold them off, Chun King first, to RJ Reynolds, followed by Jeno’s, which was spun to General Mills to combine with their own “Totino’s” brand.

Most of these foods were produced in my hometown of Duluth, MN, until Jeno had a hissy fit, threatened to move production out of state, and ultimately did – to Ohio. Jeno could be incredibly generous and civic minded, and meaner than moose piss other times.

Years later, he starts a new frozen food company, “Michelina’s,” also based in Duluth (including some production) which he builds up by acquiring other brands in the segment.  Jeno was successful in building another monster company, with production facilities around the country, and distribution around the world.

A number of qualified buyers approached him during the last part of his life, but he rebuffed them all, asking far more than the company was worth. Finally, literally on his deathbed, a transaction was negotiated, but for less than the company was worth.  Fine tuning the operations, the principles flipped the company a few years later to a Thai conglomerate, and made a bundle.

So now you know where this product comes from – intellectually. Physically, it is produced in a factory in Jackson, OH, about a hundred miles east of Cincinnati.

“TV dinners” were introduced by the Swanson Company in 1953-1954.  Swanson was started in 1899 and is stilled around, owned by Pinnacle Foods (formerly Vlasic). The dinners came in tinfoil trays, with separate compartments for entrees, vegetables, and starches. They were heated in a conventional oven – from frozen – for about an hour. They weren’t very tasty.

Today, they are microwave friendly, of course, packaged in plastic, a few minutes from frozen to ‘edible’ tho I still use a conventional oven if the directions are on the box as an option.  Which is what I did today, about 45 minutes at 350, with a ‘potato stir’ in the middle.

And here’s what I say about every single “heat and eat” fried thing I try. After sixty years, don’t you think they could have figured out the science to make crispy things crispy? There are few experiences worse than biting into something you expect to be crispy/crunchy, and having it have practially zero texture.

I like chicken fried steak for breakfast, so I prepped it that way, added eggs, toast. Usually mashed potatoes aren’t a breakfast dish, are they? But that’s how this meal is packaged. How were the potatoes? Better than fast food, not as good as those heat and eat tubs they sell nowadays.

Tactile experience aside, the flavor of the meat was OK.  As was the gravy, but the plate (pictured) becomes one big mess, not at all (of course) like the corporate marketing image. It might help to put the gravy in a separate ramekin. Just sayin’.

I’ve tried other brands of this same entree –  Banquet, Claim Jumper, Advance Pierre, among others.

They’re all about the same. At restaurants, you hit the jackpot when you find a cook that makes his own.  Would I buy this again? Nah. Just did for the novelty, and for the sake of YOU. LOL.

Boston Market Country Fried Steak Review

Frozen, out of the box

Boston Market Country Fried Steak Review

Corporate Publicity Photo

Boston Market Country Fried Steak Review

Out of the Oven

Boston Market Country Fried Steak Review

Plated as breakfast

Boston Market Country Fried Steak Review

First TV Dinner – 1954

Boston Market Country Fried Steak Review

Boston Market Country Fried Steak Review

 

 

Boston Market Country Fried Steak Review

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Crystal Lake, IL – Andys Family Restaurant Review

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Andy's Crystal LakeLanding at O’Hare after an overnight flight from Honolulu, I was starving.  Why didn’t I eat on the plane?  Conked out on the new lie flat seat/beds in first class, very comfy, a little too comfy.

Was heading from Chicago to Madison, so I thought I’d stop en route and get a tasty breakfast on the back roads, and my back road of choice to Madison is US 14, so I hit Andy’s Family Restaurant in Crystal Lake, IL.

Over ordered, not a surprise, went with the Chicken Fried Steak and eggs, the place was jammed, but service was prompt and friendly, they have had lots of practice, this place has been around for years.

Played “butter Jenga” while I was waiting, scarfed the meal and hit the road.  Great place.

Andy's Crystal Lake

Andy's Family Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Andys Family Restaurant Review

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Huntley, IL – Sammy’s Restaurant and Bar

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Hard to believe I would find myself in this little burg twice in a lifetime, let alone twice in a month. But here I am, it’s Father’s Day, I deserve a nice breakfast out in the traditional Father’s Day tradition!

Sammy’s Restaurant and Bar is open for all meal services, and offers pretty standard “diner” fare, along with daily and nightly specials. There is a set lunch special menu, and the nightly specials are consistent from week to week, with the usual (for the area) fish fry on Friday’s.

Sammy’s doesn’t wait for the dinner hour for their fish fry, however, they start serving it up for the lunch crowed.

I went with Sammy’s variation of “Country Steak” and eggs, which in this case, did not include batter, fried beef, but rather a chopped steak patty with country gravy, two eggs, hash browns, and toast. I went with marble rye on the latter.

The beef patty is pretty ample, perhaps a half-pound pre-cooked weight, a food service type burger (meaning not hand-formed from fresh ground beef), and the gravy was good.

I was pretty happy with the service and food, and like so many small town places in the Upper Midwest, prices make the meals a really good value.

Sammy's Restaurant Huntley Illinois

Sammy's Restaurant & Bar on Urbanspoon

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US Chain – Claim Jumper

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Claim Jumper RestaurantFounded in 1977 in California, Claim Jumper has grown to 37 locations, mostly in the Western US.  With a decor resembling a rustic hunting lodge, and a menu that offers virtually “something for everyone”, the chain maintains its popularity because of quality food, large portions, and friendly, prompt service.

The seating capacity at the outlet we visited was 550, according to the occupancy sign at the door, and since we had to wait (very briefly) for a table, one would guess the joint was full up.

Service was prompt, regardless.   We started with the pretzel stick appetizer (choice of butter and salt coating, or parmesan / garlic), which comes with your choice of a cheese or mustard dipping sauce.  These aren’t your standard pretzel bits, but rather a half dozen nearly foot long soft rods, warm, chewy, and flavorful.

Mrs. Burgerdogboy went for the chopped Cobb salad, with an add on of chopped tenderloin steak; the salad was artfully arranged on the plate, and the beef was flavorful and very tender.

I opted for the “light” portion of country fried steak, which came with mash and white gravy.  The steak coating was crispy, and the meat was tender.   A lot of prep of CFS use a less than premium cut of beef, but I can’t say that was the case here.  It’s a good piece of beef.

My entree is not for the feint of heart or carb counters, however.  With a single plate topping 2000 calories and nearly 200 carbs, that’s a lot of “nutrition.”

We passed on dessert, tho we have had their chocolate mother-lode cake before, six layers, and 11 bucks worth of a slice of cake that can feed an entire table.

I don’t know where Claim Jumper fits in the restaurant hierarchy. It’s a few notches above what I would call “fast casual”, but a few notches below “fine dining.”

The bill for an appetizer, two entrees, 1 cocktail, 1 coffee came in at $52 including tip.

Claim Jumper is a great place for good food, prepared well, and parties of diners with diverse palates.  With virtually every food category offered on the menu, from grills, to salads, to pasta, to sandwiches, no one in your party will go away hungry.

Location finderFull menu online.

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Flagstaff, AZ – Galaxy Diner Reviews

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Galaxy Diner, Flagstaff, AZ

Galaxy Diner, Flagstaff, AZ

Gettin’ my kicks, on Route 66, which I do a leg of at least a couple times per year.   Most recently, tooling thru Flagstaff, I came across the Galaxy Diner, a joint I hadn’t noticed before.  It had a lot of promise from the get go – great neon, roadside location on 66, lots of chrome inside and out.  Every inch of the interior walls were covered with memorabilia, movie stars, music, platters.  All the trappings of the 50s and 60s, existing in an age where only old fuckers like me ‘get it’.    If I took Mrs. BDB in this kind of place, she’d stare blankly at the photos and say “who are all these people?”  (She’s a young’un).

So I felt instantly at home at the Galaxy, and stopped to eat breakfast, cause I love diner breakfasts, any time of day or nite, and most great diners serve breakfast any time, day or nite.

It didn’t take long with the menu to spy my choice:   the “MONDO”.   An ‘oversized’ portion of chicken fried steak, biscuits and gravy, ‘diner potatoes’, and 3 eggs your style. (Over easy, please).

In almost as little time as it took me to choose, my affable server appeared with my selection, and didn’t need to ask if I wanted any additional condiments, a full selection sits on every table.

The 50s and 60s music provided a nice ambiance this sunny Arizona morn, and the only anachronism was a couple of large televisions blaring CNN. Wish they’d lose those.

My plate lived up to its menu description, there were two over-sized slabs of CFS, the three eggs were done perfectly, the “diner potatoes” left a bit to be desired for my personal taste, but that’s my fault, I should have asked for them to be extra crispy.   They were thin-sliced taters grilled on the flattop.

The over-sized biscuit was drenched in sausage gravy, and the gravy was also adorning the steak.   Bonus?   The food was all perfectly seasoned, I tend to use way too much salt, and didn’t raise the shaker once on my breakfast, after tasting the grub. (No, I am not one of those who seasons before tasting, Mrs BurgerDogBoy is prone to pouring Tabasco on anything that’s not moving before the first bite).

This place, to me, was diner perfection.  It’s one of those places I want to poke my head in the kitchen and tell the chef, “that was art.”

Which it was.

 

Galaxy Dinner, Route 66, Flagstaff

Galaxy Dinner, Route 66, Flagstaff

Galaxy Diner on Urbanspoon

 

galaxy diner reviews

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