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Posts Tagged ‘Heat and Eat’

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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Jewel Osco Hot Food Bar Review

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Jewel-Osco Hot Food Bar Review

Jewel Osco Hot Food Bar Review 

First time I ever recall seeing a “hot food bar” was in the corner delis and bodegas in New York City, must have been 30-40 years ago.

That made sense, people rushing home from work, late, wanted a hot, somewhat balanced meal that they didn’t have to fuss with it.

Along came the concept of “groceraunt” (but years before that term was coined) and grocery stores started adding full service hot deli counters, which then evolved into the “bar” – a dozen or more hot entrees along with mass appeal sides – mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, stewed carrots and the like.

They accompanied fairly standard hot dishes, meatloaf, fried chicken in various forms, chicken and dumplings, stews, baked or fried fish and the like. I’m willing to be a lot of money that none of these foods are prepared in-house, but come in large tinfoil pans fully cooked, probably frozen, waiting for the “heat and eat” stage and to be dumped onto the food bar.

A giant version of TV dinners, if you will.  If it’s a large grocery, it’s likely there is an accompanying “salad bar” that also includes a half dozen soup offerings. Both the hot food and salad are priced by the pound, and it varies depending on the chain and the zip code.  I’ve seen them from $6- $9 per pound. (Expert tip – “liquid” has weight. Watch that you keep liquid accompanying your entree or side to a minimum.

There are only two or three massive grocery holding companies any more, they’ve gone out and bought all the regional chains up. Jewel-Osco, in the Upper Midwest, is part of Albertson’s, which is part of SuperValu.  Then there is Kroger Company, which owns a gaggle of brands, and of course WalMart and the member only clubs. Jewel Osco, was originally the grocery chain “Jewel T” and Osco was a drug store chain. They are co-located and co-named now, obviously.

If I’m ever in the mood for the hot bar concept, I limit my grazing to the upmarket groceries, Whole Foods or regional choices. Better quality, larger variety, but more expensive, of course. Whereas your regular grocery might have beef burger tomato goulash, the upmarket places are going to offer pad thai and that type of thing.

So passing by one of my local Jewel-Oscos (I purposely avoid them, they are spendy compared to competitors, and with no real right to be spendy, plus their big “sale” prices, especially the BOGOs are hilariously dishonest), I thought I’d graze the hot bar just for something to write about.

Friday is “wing day” apparently and they were offering maybe eight different styles of chicken wings, and a couple types of “boneless wings” which aren’t wings at all, are they?

So I retried some “Buffalo” boneless wings,  meatballs in marinara, and fried cod (hey, it is lent).  My feelings about the dishes are as follows:

Why do they call them “boneless wings?” I realize anything “nugget” related is associated with McD, but why not bits? Mini tenders?  Something. The buffalo flavoring wasn’t.  I think they mixed up the trays, and what I ended up having was boneless wings of General Tso variety. They were sweet, with a little heat, and deep fried.  Not a trace of buffalo seasoning flavor.  These weren’t billed as “all white meat” because they weren’t. There was some white, some grey, whatever that was.  Diced chicken parts rolled together in the batter.

Meatball.  Zero flavor, very dense.  Now it wasn’t billed as “Italian” but swimming in a red sauce, one might (like me) assume it would be Italian, but no garlic, oregano, basil, fennel. Just meat. Of an unknown origin.  I’m gonna go with pork, because of the color.  No noticeable bread crumbs or filler.

Fried cod. Like the chicken, these are bits of fish rolled into a batter and fried.  It was the best of the three things I tried, and I’m not a big cod fan, but on any Friday night in Chicagoland or Southern Wisconsin, you’ll see restaurant offering all you can eat cod, fried or baked, at a pretty low price. There must be a lot of cod left in the ocean, though Newfoundlanders would disagree with you.

That’s about it for the Jewel Osco hot food bar.  I won’t make it a regular thing.

Jewel-Osco Hot Food Bar Review

Meatball

 

Jewel-Osco Hot Food Bar Review

Meatball, Dissected

 

Jewel-Osco Hot Food Bar Review

Boneless “Wings”

 

Jewel-Osco Hot Food Bar Review

Inside a “Wing”

 

Jewel-Osco Hot Food Bar Review

Fried cod

 

Jewel-Osco Hot Food Bar Review

Deep inside a fish

Jewel Osco Hot Food Bar Review

Jewel Osco Hot Food Bar Review

 

 

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Papa Murphys 5 Meat Stuffed Pizza Review

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Papa Murphys 5 Meat Stuffed Pizza ReviewPapa Murphys is the result of the consolidation of two mini-chains in the early 1980s. Papa Aldos in suburban Portland, OR, and Murphy’s in Petaluma, CA.

The unique hook for the now global, 1500+ store chain is (as far as I know) the only national chain offering strictly “take and bake” pies.  They make them to your specification at the store, you tote ’em home and bake them.  There was some discussion of them starting to bake in-house, and delivery, too, but as far as I can see, neither has happened.

Sidebar: There was a take and bake operation in my hometown, independent, (don’t remember the name)  long before Papa Murphys started sprouting up everywhere. For some reason, my mom loved the place and the concept. Add to that, it was on top of a generic ‘take and bake’ (kidding) soda store, the “Pop Shoppe” which had a ton of flavors of soda, value priced, under their own name. Wonder what happened to them?  (OK, just found out, they were born, had explosive growth, died, now on the comeback trail)  (Backspace to the link, if you’re interested).

Anyway, Papa Murphys has a fairly large menu choice of toppings, types, and sizes.  I went with the five meat “stuffed”, which is crust, cheese, toppings, another crust, more toppings, more cheese.  This one packs Red Sauce, Canadian Bacon, Pepperoni, Italian Sausage, and Bacon topped with Ground Beef. They are big and they are heavy. There is a 14 and 16 inch size, and either one is priced at about half a comparable pie at local shops around me.

Takes awhile to bake, of course, but it’s satisfying and filling. No skimping on the toppings or cheese. Slightly sweet sauce. “Bread like” crust.  Overall appealing.  Easily feed your family.  Better (IMHO) than the big three, for sure.  They offer a couple sides, salads, and desserts.

Papa Murphys are everywhere. Check the website to find a store near you.  Menu below. Postscript. I went to the store in Woodstock IL (you’d recognize the town, where they filmed “Groundhog Day.”)   I had a coupon, and the owner said he couldn’t accept it, but he’d give me the same deal.  OK.  And he did.

 

Papa Murphys 5 Meat Stuffed Pizza Review

Right from the store

Papa Murphys 5 Meat Stuffed Pizza Review

Out of the oven at home

 

Papa Murphys 5 Meat Stuffed Pizza Review

Menu – click to enlarge

Papa Murphy's Pizza Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Papa Murphys 5 Meat Stuffed Pizza Review
Papa Murphys 5 Meat Stuffed Pizza Review

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Mama Cozzi’s French Bread Pizza Review – An Aldi Product

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Mama Cozzi's French Bread Pizza ReviewAnother Aldi product this week, actually did this one some time back, didn’t write it up. Mama Cozzi’s is the brand name the Aldi grocery chain has cooked up for their frozen and fresh (take and bake) pizzas.

I’ve tried a lot of them, including the one I wrote about directly below, and a “Mega Meat” thin crust previously. All of these are a terrific value, price wise and are mostly pretty good product.

Aldi contracts out all of their manufacturing, and this product is made by Better Baked Foods, out of North East, Pennsylvania, a burg parked between Cleveland and Buffalo.  They started in 1970 and have since built a large operation, which in addition to private label manufacturing, also has some of their own brands which was recently acquired by Minnesota pizza giant Schwans (Red Baron, Freschetta, Tonys). (Better Baked plant pictures below).

The French bread pizza comes in a two pack, different varieties, I chose pepperoni this time, and it’s not a microwave product. Given a choice with junk that gives you either option, I’m gonna pick a conventional oven every time, anyway.

The bread was crispy, the sauce benign, I liked the pepperoni, wished for more cheese, but overall, I was happy with it compared to “national brands.” It holds its own.

Like all Aldi products, it is value priced.  Aldi is currently on a tear in the US to have more fresh products in the store, remove product from cartons, and nicer lighting. The German chain currently has 10,000 stores worldwide.  There’s probably one or more near you.

Mama Cozzi's French Bread Pizza Review

Out of the box

Mama Cozzi's French Bread Pizza Review

Out of the oven

Mama Cozzi's French Bread Pizza Review

Pennsylvania Factory

 

 

Mama Cozzi’s French Bread Pizza Review

Mama Cozzi’s French Bread Pizza Review

 

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Tyson Crispy Chicken Strips Review – Home Cookin’

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Tyson Crispy Chicken Strips ReviewI’m not much for ‘heat and eat’ products, tho I do try them from time to time to see if they’ve improved. For the 40-50 years there has been frozen “crispy” food – chicken, fish, whatever, I’m quite surprised the industry hasn’t licked “crispy” yet. Apparently not a priority.

I especially don’t like microwaved (or reheated) chicken. I think the injected solution they put into processed chicken causes the muscle to break down when heated. The resulting texture is hard for me to stomach. Or chew.

But I thought I’d try a heat and eat meal this week and went for some Tyson’s Crispy Chicken Tenders and Ore-Ida microwave fries. The chicken turned out like I thought – the breading wasn’t crispy and the meat was a little “mushy” for lack of a better word.  I cooked three pieces, ate one, not sure what I’ll do with the rest. Maybe I can peel the breading and use the bird in soup.

The preparations for the Ore-Ida fries is quite elaborate. They have one of those “foil” coatings inside the box you use for cooking. Remove the top piece, spread out the fries in a single layer, place the top back in the box to it is resting ON TOP OF THE FRIES.  Microwave for four minutes. Let rest for a minute.

They aren’t bad. Don’t compare with the oven baked Ore-Ida (I am a guy who can’t pass up their tots or ‘crowns’) and in fact, at four minutes, they might be a little TOO crispy. So I’d try them again, depending on the price, and put them in for a little less time. It’s a single serving by the way.

That’s all I know about this.  I’ve driven around the country from time to time and gone on a “tenders smackdown.”  Here’s my report from the Southeastern U.S.

Tyson Crispy Chicken Strips Review

Tyson Crispy Chicken Strips Review

 

 

 

 

Tyson Crispy Chicken Strips Review

Tyson Crispy Chicken Strips Review

 

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Great Value Beef Meatballs Review – WalMart Nationwide

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Great Value Beef Meatballs Review“Great Value” is one of  the in-house brands for many WalMart products. They aren’t actually manufacturered by WalMart, of course, they are contracted out to be made to Bentonville’s specifications.

I take great pride in my own meatballs, it’s a recipe that I have screwed around with for decades. When I make them, I do throw them in sauce to cook from a raw state, but I rarely, ok, never serve them with pasta. A waste of bodily capacity, if you ask me, sticking noodles in where more meat could go. But that’s just me. OK, and anybody I serve meatballs too.

But I keep looking for store bought ones to fill the gap, cause my homemade effort is a lot of work and doesn’t get done that often. I’ve found some great ones at Italian delis, but unfortunately, the two I have been to are easily an hour drive – in good traffic.

So I spotted these at WalMart, all beef, breadcrumbs, eggs, cheese, milk, spices. Relatively “pure” ingredients. They come frozen, but pre-cooked, so they are just a heat and eat product. If you had made a marinara, red gravy, spaghetti sauce, you could just toss them in the pot til they were heated through.

Verdict?  They’re ok.  Not as good as mine or the deli’s, but certainly less expensive. Handy for a harried household at least.  The flavor is fine, could be a little stronger, I  think, fennel and garlic if I was in charge, and I’d make the texture a little firmer, a little less on the bread crumb and milk mixture.

The balls are made for WalMart in Tracy, CA at American Custom Meats, a processor of meat products for retail and food service. It’s a sparkling new plant (pictured below).

Great Value Beef Meatballs Review

Hean and eat

Great Value Beef Meatballs Review

Dissected view

Great Value Beef Meatballs Review

Tracy California Meatball Plant

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Corkys BBQ Heat and Eat Meals Review

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Corkys BBQ Heat and Eat Meal ReviewWhile there are a multitude of styles of “BBQ” in the US, it’s generally thought that the top three are Texas, Memphis, and Carolina.

As a result, many BBQ restaurant chains have  spawned in those areas, including the mini chain of Corky’s, born in Memphis, five minutes from Elvis’s house.

Corky’s opened the doors in the 1980s, and has spread throughout the metropolitan area and a few neighboring states.

Fairly standard grub on the menu, brisket, pork, ribs, chicken, and a few local preferences, catfish, spaghetti and more.

You can buy Corky’s grub online by the pound, and have it shipped to you, or bump into it, like I did, at WalMart. So add Corky’s to the list of restaurant branded foods that will eventually occupy every grocery shelf and freezer. That’s what the experts predict, anyway.

The 12 ounce sliced pork dinner comes with beans and applesauce. Prep is a couple minutes in the microwave, or 30 minutes in the oven. I chose the latter. Given the choice, I always choose the latter. (I have this quirk, with no scientific evidence, I think microwaves tend to break down the muscle in meat, and I don’t like the resulting texture).

So thirty minutes later, out of the oven, and I tackled the beans first. They’re good. I was expecting more brown sugar taste, it wasn’t there, and for me, that’s a good thing. The have a slightly smokey flavor with is an added ingredient, not part of the process. There’s no obvious evidence of the other ingredients, meaning, you don’t see chucks of bacon and such.

On to the meat. I like pulled pork, I make it myself at home, so easy in the crock pot, throw it in before leaving for the factory, ready when I get home. This is shoulder meat, which is the right choice for pulled pork, at least most ‘experts’ say so. There’s a modest amount of sauce in the meat tray.

And the meat is restaurant perfect. Irregular sized bits of pork, nice smoke, great texture, (which I don’t think I would have got in the microwave), mild sauce. More than an adequate amount to satisfy more appetites. I wish they sold it on its own in the grocery, by the tub, I’d be a customer. Well, maybe they do, and I’m just not aware. (You can buy it all by its lonesome online, in 3 or 6 pound tubs). It’s a little too spendy for me but at least shipping is included.

I even liked the applesauce, which isn’t really sauce, but chunks of apple “sauced.” Does include high fructose corn syrup as an ingredient in that, not sure that’s necessary.

Dinner clocked out at four bucks. Worth it, I think. I’d do it again. I will do it again.

Other varieties are available as well.

The company is obviously serious about cracking the grocery segment, as they didn’t sub the product out to some other manufacturer, but have their own USDA inspected plant in Memphis. (pictured below).

Dine in / Carryout menu. Locations.

 

Ingredients: Bar-B-Q Pork Shoulder, Apple Filling (Prepared With Sodium Sulfite And Calcium Chloride), High Fructose Corn Syrup, Water, Sugar, Modified Corn Starch, Contains 2% Or Less of The Following: Lemon Juice, Apple Juice Concentrate, Potassium Sorbate (As A Preservative), Cinnamon, Salt, Citric Acid, Nutmeg. Baked Beans (Prepared Navy Beans, Water, Sugar, Brown Sugar, Corn Syrup, Salt, Food Starch-Modified, Bacon, Dextrose, Spice, Caramel Coloring, Onion Powder, Hydrolyzed Corn Protein, Natural Smoke Flavor, Garlic Powder, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Natural Flavorings, Seasoning (Brown Sugar, Mustard, Dehydrated Onion, Green Bell Pepper, Spice)) Bar-B-Q Sauce (Water, Tomato Paste, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Molasses, Distilled Vinegar, Brown Sugar, Salt, Worcestershire Sauce (Distilled Vinegar, Molasses, Corn Syrup, Water, Salt, Caramel Color, Garlic Powder, Sugar, Spices, Tamarind, Natural Flavors), Cayenne Peppers, Natural Smoke Flavor, Dehydrated Onions, Soybean Oil, Dextrose, Dehydrated Garlic, Spice And Spice Extractives, Xanthan Gum, Sodium Benzoate, (Preservatives), Guar Gum, Ascorbic Acid.

Corkys BBQ Heat and Heat Meal Review

Prior to heating

Corkys BBQ Heat and Heat Meal Review

Out of the oven

Corkys BBQ Heat and Eat Meal Review

Memphis Factory

 

 

 

 

Corkys BBQ Heat and Eat Meals Review

Corkys BBQ Heat and Eat Meals Review

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Corky’s BBQ Frozen Pork Meal Review

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Corky's BBQ Frozen Pork Meal ReviewWhile there are a multitude of styles of “BBQ” in the US, it’s generally thought that the top three are Texas, Memphis, and Carolina.

As a result, many BBQ restaurant chains have been spawned in those areas, including the mini-chain of Corky’s, born in Memphis, five minutes from Elvis’s house.

Corky’s opened the doors in the 1980s, and has spread throughout the metropolitan area and a few neighboring states.

Fairly standard fare on the menu, brisket, pork, ribs, chicken, and a few local preferences, catfish, spaghetti and more.

You can buy Corky’s grub online by the pound, and have it shipped to you, or bump into it, like I did, at WalMart. So add Corky’s to the list of restaurant branded foods that will eventually occupy every grocery shelf and freezer. That’s what the experts predict, anyway.

The 12 ounce sliced pork dinner comes with beans and applesauce. Prep is a couple minutes in the microwave or 30 minutes in the oven. I chose the latter. Given the choice, I always choose the latter. (I have this quirk, with no scientific evidence, I think microwaves tend to break down the muscle in meat, and I don’t like the resulting texture).

So thirty minutes later, out of the oven, and I tackled the beans first. They’re good. I was expecting more brown sugar taste, it wasn’t there, and for me, that’s a good thing. The have a slightly smokey flavor with is an added ingredient, not part of the process. There’s no obvious evidence of the other ingredients, meaning, you don’t see chunks of bacon and such.

On to the meat. I like pulled pork, I make it myself at home, so easy in the crockpot, throw it in before leaving for the plant, ready when I get home. This is shoulder meat, which is the right choice for pulled pork, at least most ‘experts’ say so. There’s a modest amount of sauce in the meat tray.

And the meat is restaurant perfect. Irregularly sized bits of pork, nice smoke, great texture, (which I don’t think I would have got in the microwave), mild sauce. More than an adequate amount to satisfy more appetites. I wish they sold it on its own in the grocery, by the tub, I’d be a customer. Well, maybe they do, and I’m just not aware. (You can buy it all by its lonesome online, in 3 or 6-pound tubs). It’s a little too spendy for me but at least shipping is included.

I even like the applesauce, which isn’t really a sauce, but chunks of apple “sauced.” Does include high fructose corn syrup as an ingredient in that, not sure that’s necessary.

Dinner clocked out at four bucks. Worth it, I think. I’d do it again. I will do it again.

Other varieties are available as well.

The company is obviously serious about cracking the grocery segment, as they didn’t sub the product out to some other manufacturer, but have their own USDA inspected plant in Memphis. (pictured below).

Ingredients: Bar-B-Q Pork Shoulder, Apple Filling (Prepared With Sodium Sulfite And Calcium Chloride), High Fructose Corn Syrup, Water, Sugar, Modified Corn Starch, Contains 2% Or Less of The Following: Lemon Juice, Apple Juice Concentrate, Potassium Sorbate (As A Preservative), Cinnamon, Salt, Citric Acid, Nutmeg. Baked Beans (Prepared Navy Beans, Water, Sugar, Brown Sugar, Corn Syrup, Salt, Food Starch-Modified, Bacon, Dextrose, Spice, Caramel Coloring, Onion Powder, Hydrolyzed Corn Protein, Natural Smoke Flavor, Garlic Powder, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Natural Flavorings, Seasoning (Brown Sugar, Mustard, Dehydrated Onion, Green Bell Pepper, Spice)) Bar-B-Q Sauce (Water, Tomato Paste, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Molasses, Distilled Vinegar, Brown Sugar, Salt, Worcestershire Sauce (Distilled Vinegar, Molasses, Corn Syrup, Water, Salt, Caramel Color, Garlic Powder, Sugar, Spices, Tamarind, Natural Flavors), Cayenne Peppers, Natural Smoke Flavor, Dehydrated Onions, Soybean Oil, Dextrose, Dehydrated Garlic, Spice And Spice Extractives, Xanthan Gum, Sodium Benzoate, (Preservatives), Guar Gum, Ascorbic Acid.

Corky's BBQ Frozen Pork Meal Review

Out of the box

Corky's BBQ Frozen Pork Meal Review

After heating

Corky's BBQ Frozen Pork Meal Review

Factory in Memphis

Corky’s BBQ Frozen Pork Meal Review

Corky’s BBQ Frozen Pork Meal Review

 

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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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Food Club Liquid Eggs Review

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Food Club Liquid Eggs ReviewI’ve never tried “liquid eggs” (industry term: breaker eggs), but I see them used quite a bit at charity breakfasts I attend. I do recall having powdered (dehydrated) eggs, which have been around for more than a hundred years.

My experience was on Scout trips – the eggs were pretty awful.  So I set out to do my home experience, and picked up a pint carton of Food Club (TopCo) brand “Great Egg0-Spectations.” The carton promises “contains 99% real egg product. (See full ingredient list at the end of this post).

I can see why they use these at the mass breakfasts, or in commercial bakeries and restaurants. Speed, little waste, consistent product. (As you know, “fresh” eggs can vary in taste and size).

So these were a buck. The carton contains the equivalent of eight eggs. 3 T equal 1 egg.  A reason for buying them would not be value, certainly at any store in any given week, you can find at least one brand at around 50 cents a dozen. Of course, you can pay up to $6 a dozen from the same display case, and obviously, people must buy them or they wouldn’t be there, but I sure don’t get the idea of $6 eggs.

I assumed I could use the product as I would fresh eggs, so I set out to make scrambled eggs, adding a dollop of milk to my mix, cooking them in a non-stick skilled at medium heat. They turned out just fine. Tasted like…………….spoiler alert……………scrambled eggs!

Food Club brand is part of Topco, which is based in suburban Chicago, and started as a co-op of producers in the 1940s. They sell thousands of different products (frozen, refrigerated and dry)  under their own brand names, to a wide variety of retailers. They also produce their products in three different value segments, from a economy type product to an added value kind.

My conclusion is that liquid eggs are tasty and convenient. Would I buy them again? Nah, like I said above, I really don’t “get it” for home use. Plus the carton instructs you to use in a week, and most people keep fresh eggs around for weeks without a care. If you’re really concerned with product longevity, powdered eggs can last 5-10 years, depending on the brand and storage method.

Do you use liquid eggs at home? How do you use them? Do you have a preferred brand?

INGREDIENTS

EGG WHITES (99%), LESS THAN 1%: NATURAL FLAVOR, COLOR (INCLUDES BETA CAROTENE), SPICES, SALT, ONION POWDER, XANTHAN GUM, GUAR GUM, VITAMINS AND MINERALS: CALCIUM SULFATE, IRON (FERRIC ORTHOPHOSPHATE), VITAMIN E (ALPHA TOCOPHEROL ACETATE), ZINC SULFATE, CALCIUM PANTOTHENATE, VITAMIN B12, VITAMIN B2 (RIBOFLAVIN), VITAMIN B1 (THIAMINE MONONITRATE), VITAMIN B6 (PYRIDOXINE HYDROCHLORIDE), FOLIC ACID, BIOTIN, VITAMIN D3.

Food Club Liquid Eggs Review

 

 

Food Club Liquid Eggs Review

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