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Posts Tagged ‘Frozen Burgers’

Billy Goat Frozen Burger Review – from Devanco Foods

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Billy Goat Frozen Burger ReviewThe restaurant part of the legend of the Billy Goat Tavern began on Chicago’s South Side in 1934. Greek immigrant William Sianas paid $205 for the Lincoln Tavern.

In 1964, Sianas moved the bar to its current subterranean location, and it’s here, underneath Chicago’s Wrigley Building on Michigan Avenue, that the modern part of the legend originated.

The bar was located midway between the Chicago Tribune Tower and the rival Chicago Sun Times building; it became a popular hangout of reporters trying to steal each others scoops (or brag about their own).

1978,the 3rd season of Saturday Night Live, and cast members John Belushi, Dan Akroyd and Bill Murray did a sketch about the fictional “Olympia Cafe” which paid homage to the proprietor and staff of the Billy Goat. At the Olympia there was no food choice other than cheeseburgers and chips, no drinks but Pepsi, and the refrains uttered comedically by Belushi (with a “Greek accent”) were actually heard frequently at the Billy Goat.

Fast forward today the Billy Goat has multiple locations, but the ambiance of the original remains intact. As you walk down the stairs from Michigan Avenue, you might think you’re walking into the river or some dark hell, but at the bottom the welcome neon of the Billy Goat beckons you in.

They have apparently made a licensing deal with Devanco, a Chicago foods company that started in 1993 and was purchased and amped up in 2004. Previously, they sold mostly supplies to Greek restaurants, like gyro meat, pitas, and sauces.Billy Goat Frozen Burger Review

They’ve expanded to the retail arena, and in addition to  Greek offerings like a home Gyro Kit, they manufacture and distribute foods for Mike Ditka’s brand. Their (his) version of Italian beef is superb.

This week (4/24/17) Devanco started selling 2 pound boxes of 100% ground beef patties with Billy Goat’s name on them; there are two versions, 5 patties to a pound, or 3 patties to a pound. The two pound boxes check out at over $12, and that’s a lot.

The patties are made in Devanco’s suburban Chicago plant (pictured below).

I’ve tried quite a few ‘heat and eat’ burgers, and not really been happy with them, and especially those that are restaurant branded like Trader Joe’s, Pasture Perfect Kobe, Fatburger or Steak N Shake.There are both raw products (like Billy Goat’s) and there are some fully cooked patties available as well, like Ball Park brand‘s version. I’ve also tried maybe dozens of microwave, c-store, vending machine burgers, you can find those on the site by searching for “gas station food” or “heat and eat.”

The cooking instructions for the Billy Goat are no different than most frozen patties, skillet, medium heat, 3-4 minutes one side (until the juices start to ooze through), flip, couple more minutes.

I was eager to taste these since they have zero additives.  As in NONE. Some brands of  frozen patties include beef broth, cow heart(!!) and liquid smoke. Here I’m getting cow only.  So what’s the verdict?

Let’s get the bad news out of the way first. I am not going to, under any circumstances I can think of, pay  $12 for frozen burger patties. No matter if they were the best burger you ever had, that’s a good 30-40% above their largest competitors.

Second bit of ‘bad news.’ The patties are packaged in 5 packs inside the box. Which means I have to separate, put in a different bag or container and refreeze any that I don’t use at the time. Luckily, the patties are separated by what the industry calls “patty paper,” which makes them easy to separate.

So I removed one and semi-followed the instructions. With a frozen patty at medium heat, I flipped after 3 minutes and went 2 more. I tasted the plain patty first before dressing it and putting it on a Martin’s Potato Roll (not what the Billy Goat uses, tho). Dressed with a half sour dill, raw onion and yellow mustard.

Flavor was very beefy, which is good, seems most frozen patties have some sort of strange “undercurrent” of taste, at least to me, and this one doesn’t. I’m also happy with the texture, which closely resembles the grind you’d find in grocery ground beef.  Some competitors reduce their “beef” and other ingredients to a slurry before sending them to the patty forming machine.

In other words, I’m happy with the product, and it does justice to the burger served in the restaurant. I think they’d be great on a charcoal grill.

I’ll be interested to see how this product does.  You have to be a certain age to get the whole SNL connection, and outside of Chicago, it’s not that the Billy Goat is a global iconic brand name.

I said this post was about one part of the Billy Goat legend. There’s a whole other story there. Think Chicago Cubs.  Here’s the dope if you’re interested.

 

Billy Goat Frozen Burger Review

Frozen Patties

Billy Goat Frozen Burger Review

3 minutes at medium, flipped

Billy Goat Frozen Burger Review

All dressed up, ready to go!

Billy Goat Frozen Burger Review

Box instructions on constructing your burger

Billy Goat Frozen Burgers Review

Devanco’s suburban Chicago plant

Billy Goat Frozen Burger Review

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Pasture Perfect Burger Review

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Pasture Perfect Burger ReviewI have to say from the outset, me and frozen burger patties don’t get along. I’ve tried a boatload of different brands. To me, they have a taste and texture in common that I personally don’t find appealing.

I think probably many of them are marketed to be tossed on your charcoal or gas grill, which considerably changes the experience –  but fried on the stovetop?  Nope.

So I was skeptical when I spotted “Pasture Perfect American Style Kobe Beef Burgers.” First off, of course you know I object to meat being marketed as “Kobe,” cause 99.99999999999999999999  % of the time it’s not. “Kobe Beef” is a product which comes from a specific breed of cow (Wagyu) and is raised in a specified manner in the area of Kobe, Japan.

Wagyu cattle have been imported to the US, New Zealand, and Australia and it’s the flesh of these animals you frequently see marketed as “Kobe.”  The giveaway? If the restaurant you’re at is offering a “Kobe” burger for $12 or $20, it’s not Kobe.  You can purchase ‘real’ Kobe online – but get a second mortgage first, here’s one source:  http://www.miyazakigyu.com/.

But on to Pasture Perfect. The package promises Wagyu cattle free range, open pasture, 100%  grass fedno antibiotics or added hormones. The cattle is raised in New Zealand, and processed in Los Angeles at a re-processor, First Class Foods, in Hawthorne, which has been around since 1962. (Factory pix below).

First Class processes beef, pork and other proteins into retail and food service portions. They also manufacture some heat and eat meals for food service.

Pasture Perfect is a brand name used by a Lake Tahoe, Nevada based company named Pilot Brands.

The package is one pound, and contains two 8 ounce patties.  No idea why they would market it like this instead of smaller portions. I thawed before frying in cast-iron, most directions I have seen call for you to prepare Kobe “low and slow,” but this isn’t ‘real’ Kobe, so I seared and then finished on medium.

I prepared it without and seasoning, and plated it without condiments or toppings. Took a bite. Wow. Tastes like a good steak. Steak texture too. No hint of “artificial smoke” flavoring, no painted on grill marks.  It’s good. But expensive. About the most you’d ever pay for a pound of ground beef.

How much would I be willing to pay, to eat them on a regular basis? I think no more than $6 a pound. And even that’s a stretch.

 

Pasture Perfect Burger Review

Pan fried, about 4 mins per side

 

Pasture Perfect Burger Review

First Class Foods, Hawthorne, CA

 

 

 

 

 

Pasture Perfect Burger Review

Pasture Perfect Burger Review

Pasture Perfect Burger Review

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Advance Pierre Pretzel Cheeseburger Review

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Advance Pierre Pretzel Cheeseburger ReviewEvery time I think I have covered every single availability in the ‘heat and eat’ burger category, I run across a new one.  This week it’s the “Pretzel Cheeseburger” from Advance Pierre, arguably the largest manufacturer of heat and eat burgers, and I’ve tried a gaggle of them. While the Ohio company puts out a lot of product under its own brand names – to C stores, vending, institutions, it is also a contract manufacturer and makes products for others, like the new Steak N Shake frozen burgers.

Whereas many of these type of sandwiches call for nuking in their cello wrapper, this one reverts to the way that White Castle used to tout, namely remove wrapper, wrap in paper towel, heat 90 seconds, let sit 90 seconds.

Like many of the beef products in this category, the Advance Pierre patty has the smell and taste of the artificial smoke flavoring, added to simulate ‘grilled flavor.’ The meat patty also has corn starch and corn syrup solids added.

Curiously, even though this was at WalMart, it was priced quite a big higher than the company’s similar offerings at dollar stores and other outlets. The most I have ever paid for an Advance Pierre burger is nearly $3.00, tho, maybe more, for their C-store “Big AZ” burger.

The Pretzel Cheeseburger is relatively OK, tho the bun heated unevenly, as often happens with products in this segment.  My hack solution has always been to heat the burger patty and bun separately, but the first time, I always follow the instructions. The pretzel bun was soft in places and unchewably hard in other.  I don’t know what that happens. (Oh, go ahead, blame it on my microwave).  (But props for jumping on the pretzel bun fad).

Would I buy this again, hunt it out?  No, not when there is comparable product available for substantially less money.

For other heat and eat burgers I have tried, check out   Fred Meyer Frozen Mini Cheeseburgers, Private Selection Angus Beef Patties, and Trader Joes Kobe Style, White Castle,  to the convenience store types like Big A Angus Charbroil, the 7-Eleven Cheeseburger, Fatburger, Walgreens,  AM/PM Mini Marts, and Ball Park, to mention a few.

I think my favorite is Ball Park, but they are awfully spendy.

Advance Pierre Pretzel Cheeseburger Review

Advance Pierre Pretzel Cheeseburger Review

 

 

 

 

Advance Pierre Pretzel Cheeseburger Review

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Steak N Shake Frozen Burgers Review

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Steak N Shake Frozen Burger ReviewSeems like every restaurant brand is trying to extend their reach by putting labeled products in the grocery aisles; if my memory is correct, seems like Taco Bell was first. Now there is hardly a fast casual brand that you don’t see in the grocery, whether it’s Boston Market, Fridays, Marie Callenders,  Fatburger, Burger King, Nathan’s.

I’ve reviewed a pretty good sampling of heat and eat burgers in the past, including  Fred Meyer Frozen Mini Cheeseburgers, Private Selection Angus Beef Patties, and Trader Joes Kobe Style, White Castle,  to the convenience store types like Big A Angus Charbroil, the 7-Eleven Cheeseburger, Fatburger, Walgreens,  AM/PM Mini Marts, and Ball Park, to mention a few.

Now I see Steak N Shake has entered the fray.  The Illinois founded company now has more than 400 outlets across the country, and I have generally been pretty pleased with their products.  They have a rep for fresh, cooked to order food.

So I wish they wouldn’t have entered this market segment.  I think it does more harm than good, as a frozen heat and eat burger can’t come close to the taste or texture of a burger prepared in the restaurant.

Steak N Shake chose Ohio-based AdvancedPierre as their contract manufacturer / distributor.  The company makes a lot of heat and eat foods for the convenience and vending market, including the “Big A” referenced above.

While this type of product is available throughout the entire price range, from a buck each up to $10 + for a bag of six or eight patties, the Steak N Shake variety was offered at $5 for (2) 5.3 ounce sandwiches.  The sandwich is comprised of two patties, one slice of cheese and bun.  No condiments are included, of course.

(Need some Steak N Shake chili or their great seasoning?  We can hook you up!)

Instructions call for puncturing the wrapper (picture 1 below), heating for 75 seconds in the microwave, and letting sit for thirty seconds after that.  Of course it has the disclaimer that “microwaves and heating times may vary” and they were referring to mine, as at 75 seconds the middle of the patties was still frozen.

Removed from the microwave (picture 2 below), they look fairly appealing.

One “beef” I have with all of these products that include buns, is that frequently the bun and meat require different heating times, so you’re going to probably be disappointed with one or the other.  My “cheat” is to disassemble them and heat them separately, works for me, but takes a little trial and error.   That process especially works great with frozen White Castles.

What’s my verdict?  They’re OK.  As I feared, nothing resembling the restaurant product, but most of these heat and eat burgers are pretty similar in my experience, and opinion, no matter the brand or the price point.

I suppose the “hook” is convenience.  Single people who don’t want to cook, a harried mom needing a quick snack for the kids.  Burger snobs won’t give them a thought.

Moms might want to reconsider, now that I just read the nutrition info –  490 calories with over half of those from fat.  Probably not good.

Update: I walked by a Steak N Shake restaurant inside a Mississippi casino recently, and noted the signage now says ” “Steak ‘n Shake by Biglari.” Sadar Biglari is head of the private equity fund that currently controls Steak N Shake. At first, I thought, “well that’s arrogant, it’s not like using Dior or something – Biglari hasn’t designed custom gourmet burgers or anything.”  And then I read it’s a licensing deal. By putting his name on the restaurants, the “owner” has to pay him a licensing fee for use of his name. Even if the chain is sold. That’s pretty slimy, even for private equity.

Steak N Shake Frozen Burger Review

Steak N Shake Frozen Burger Review

 

 

 

 

Steak N Shake Frozen Burgers Review

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Dollar Tree Frozen Sliders Review

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Frozen Sliders ReviewI have previously wowed you with my reviews of other products from AdvancePierre, like the Big Az cheeseburger.  We’ve also taken a look at “Dollar store”  (generically using the name) foods like cheeseburgers, fish sandwiches, and empanadas.  I actually preferred the fish sandwich to any of the fast food outlet offerings.

AdvancePierre, based in Cincinnati, is a leader is providing products to food service, vending, and c-marts. They have eleven factories across the U.S.

So these are  a buck for two sandwiches, which ends up being about 25 – 33 % less than White Castle six packs.  Instructions call for wrapping in a paper towel, heating for 60-70 seconds, and letting sit for 30 seconds prior to consuming.

The only curiosity (to me) was that in the manufacturing process, the two burgers share a single slice of cheese. (see pic).

Verdict?  If you like frozen White Castles, you’ll find these OK. They have a “grill flavor” in place of W.C.’s “onion flavor.”  They taste beefy  and are parked on ultra soft-buns.  Load them up with condiments however you like, and enjoy.

I have to admire AdvancePierre, frozen heat and eat foods has got to be one of the toughest segments in the industry, and they do a bang-up job.

Frozen Slider Review

Frozen, Out of Carton

 

Frozen Slider Review

After 70 seconds in microwave

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Frozen Sliders Review

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Home Cookin’ – Fatburger Frozen Hamburger Patties

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Fatburger is a fast casual hamburger chain, which was launched and is headquartered in Southern California.   The original restaurant was opened by Lovie Yancey in 1948, and was called “Mr. Fatburger” for the first several years.

Until recently, the chain has been mostly California-centric, but a limited amount of growth has come from international franchises.   There have been a number of celebrity investors who at one time or another opened franchised outlets, most of which did not survive.

I’ve never understood why this chain didn’t explode with growth.  It’s a good product, limited menu.  Burgers, fries, rings, shakes.   The burgers can be customized by adding additional patties and toppings like chili, cheese, guac, peppers.  The fresh, not frozen,  burger patties are cooked on a flat top until a crusty surface occurs, which is very appealing to me personally.  The shakes are hand-scooped real ice cream.  What’s not to like?

Like most franchise operations, the company is not so much in the business of operating actual restaurants, but rather, selling franchises, supplying them, and making sure they comply with corporate mandates.   As such, a company like that has a single asset, the proprietary value of its name and image, and tries to find different ways to exploit that property to create additional revenue.

I can’t say for sure which restaurant chain was the first one to place product in grocery stores, bearing their name, but it’s hard not to bump into that kind of thing today.  Off the top of my head, I’ve seen Marie Callenders, TGI Fridays,  Burger King, Taco Bell, Chili’s  Bob Evans, Cracker Barrel, Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, and at one time, Stouffer’s was a restaurant.  There are many more.

Lo and behold, Fatburger licenses its name, image for frozen burger patties.  This kind of surprised me, because the product is a six pack of 1/3 pound patties, and ‘thick’ burgers are really not a Fatburger thing.  The deal seems exclusive to Wal Mart, and at $7.99, comes out to four bucks a pound, steep for ground beef.  (I have previously reviewed a number of different brands of frozen burgers). The product is apparently distributed (manufactured?)  by a separate Los Angeles company and I wasn’t able to find very much info on that concern.  The USDA ‘sticker’ did not have an establishment number on it; that number identifies the plant where the product was made.

The stove top grilling instructions call for 14 minutes at medium heat, turning frequently.  That’s distinctively different than most frozen patties that I have tested.  The most common set of instructions call for throwing the frozen patty in a pan, cooking on one side til ‘blood runs through’, and flipping it for another short period.   The exception of course would be pre-cooked patties, like Ball Park.

The packaging inside the box is a single cello pack, non-resealable;  I would prefer patties are individually wrapped if the package isn’t resealable.  The burgers are separated by “patty paper” but the flash-freeze process can still make the patties stick together.

Fatburger Frozen PattyThe raw patty in the pan is pictured at left.  It is manufactured to look like it is hand-formed, but there have been patty making machines in plants that have accomplished that for quite some time.   I’ve never seen a frozen patty that wasn’t ‘dimpled’, and this one is no exception.

The ingredients listed on the box are:  beef, and seasoning salt.  It seems from the way the ingredients are printed, that the seasoning salt is made up of salt, spices, sugar, cornstarch, garlic, onion, and canola oil.   So they are saying what’s in your patty is beef and salt.  Wow.  That’s a departure from most similar products.  Which is a good thing.

I went with the entire suggested 14 minutes, to witness the outcome as directed on the packaging.  It has an pleasant enough look, and the flavor is good, there’s no hint of artificial smoke here, some companies use that to emulate grill flavor.  The grind is of average size, and is appealing.  I’d say the Fat frozen is in the top three of all the ones I’ve tested.   Of course, it’s no substitute for hitting my favorite locations when I am in L.A.   I like the Venice and Van Nuys locations, personally.

The only time I purchase frozen burgers is to test them out, but I’d be ok with having these in my freezer regularly.

Fatburger Frozen Hamburger

Cooked Fatburger Frozen Patty

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Home Cookin’ Test – Extra Value Frozen Beef Patties

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I’ve  reviewed a lot of these frozen patties, and to date, I’ve liked Ball Park brand the most, even though they are a ‘heat and eat’ product, not a raw patty.

Extra Value is an economy brand, manufactured by the Holten Meat Company, outside of St. Louis.

20130518_074809I bought a package of a dozen quarter pounders, and out of the box, they look like the pictures on the left.

They require a medium  heat cook, for a few minutes on each side.  Usually the instructions for frozen patties say to cook on one side, until ‘blood’ runs from the top of the patty, and then flip for a couple minutes.

I followed a similar regimen with this product.

The ingredient list reads:  beef, beef hearts, water, textured vegetable protein, seasoning, MSG, sugar, salt.

I wasn’t put off by the hearts, but I was curious about  the vegetable protein.  Vegetable protein is a “meat analogue”, which according to Wikipedia, is  also called a meat substitutemock meatfaux meat or imitation meat, approximates certain aesthetic qualities (primarily texture, flavor and appearance) and/or chemical characteristics of specific types of meat. Many analogues are soy-based.

And it’s that textured vegetable protein where the Extra Value patties fall apart, both literally and figuratively.

While the general “flavor” of a beef patty is present, the expected texture of cooked ground meat is completely lacking.

The texture while cutting, chewing, is more akin to the vegetarian patties I’ve had.  It doesn’t really ‘cut’, it crumbles.

And for me, that’s a deal killer.  Here’s what the end product looks like:

extravalue2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Extra Value Frozen Beef Patties

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Home Cookin’ Test – Private Selection Angus Beef Patties Review

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Private Selection Frozen Angus PattiesI picked these up on a whim today, some ‘extras’ to throw on the grill for the 4th.  6 1/3 pound patties for about $6.  “Angus”, but not “certified Angus”, and off the bat, I am a little concerned that the meat is not single country sourced, or if it is, the labeling on that isn’t clear, it says product of US, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and Mexico.”

Grilling instructions parallel most frozen patties, place on grill while still frozen, wait for blood to come through the topside of the patty, flip once until done to your personal preference.

Private Selection is a house brand of Fred Meyer, part of Kroger, so you are likely to find this product at their other outlets, QFC, Ralphs, Dillons, Food 4 Less, and others.

You know, I was thinking, cooking these, that I have never met a frozen burger patty that I have liked.  To me, there is a certain flavor associated with frozen meat that I don’t personally care for.   I expect that flavor, and even an “off” texture to be there, automatically.

Boy, was I surprised with this product.  Texture and flavor were superb, equal or in excess of any regular ground beef I would purchase and make patties on my own.   When I say “regular” I’m talking about store-brand packaging of 80/20 or 70/30 ground beef.

I liked these.  And so did Mrs. Burgerdogboy who doesn’t eat hamburgers, except for on the 4th of July.

I’m even tempted to try other brands now.  But they will compete in my freezer with Private Selection.  I’m going to keep these on hand from now on.

Private Selection Angus Beef Patties

Frozen patties out of the box

 

 

 

Private Selection Angus Beef Patties

On the grill

 

Private Selection Angus Beef Patties

Fully cooked to medium stage

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