Hello. My name's Nathan, and I love Trader Joe's. My wife Sonia does too. She's a great shopper, has excellent taste and knows good value when she comes across it. As many of you know, Trader Joe's is unsurpassed in the world of good-value grocery stores, so we spend a lot of our time and money there. Although the store fairly consistently delivers great taste with its own unique line of food products, there are definitely some big-hits, and unfortunately, there are some misses...

After doing a couple of internet searches for reviews of TJ's food items, Sonia discerned an apparent dearth of good, quality reviews for the store's offerings. So, at her suggestion, we decided to embark on a journey of systematically reviewing every Trader Joe's product, resulting in the blog you are about to read...

A couple of months into our Trader Joe's rating adventure, an old college friend, Russ, who unbeknownst to me had been following our TJ's blog, decided that I had been slacking in my blogging duties (which, of course, I was) so he decided to contribute his own original TJ's reviews to the blog, thus enhancing it, making it more complete and adding to it a flavor of his own. He and his wife Sandy are also avid TJ's fans and, as you will soon discover, he is an excellent writer and is nearly as clever, witty and humble as I am.

Seriously though, Russ: You go, boy!

So here it is: "What's Good at Trader Joe's?"

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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Trader Joe's Soy Chorizo


Hey everybody! What's Good at Trader Joe's has a new contributor! So it's been a while since this blog has been updated ... my old college buddy Nathan's been busy moving across the country or something ... and my wife Sandy and I (Russ) happen to pretty big TJ's fans ... so hopefully you'll be seeing at somewhat regular posts by me. We're hoping this blog, while a work in progress, will be a fun way to share about the good, mediocre, and nausea-worthy stuff we find on the shelves at TJ's. Nathan made this sound better up top.

Anyways, enough about that. Let's talk about fake meat product.

If you know anything about me, you know that I like food. And I like my food to taste like what it actually is - a steak to taste like a steak, coffee to taste like coffee, beer to taste like beer, etc. Sandy, on the other hand, is a little different. She likes her coffee to taste like caramel apples (this is what her choice of creamer tells me) and she loves to use black beans to make brownies (which I don't really get ... I just pretend they're actual brownies and go with it). She also loves fake meat. No, not like Spam. Like Morningstar Farms soy chicken products and "chicken" at Whole Foods and stuff like that. She's not vegetarian (she doesn't like vegetables enough to be), but she just loves the fake meat. I've tried it, and honestly, for me, if you want something that tastes like a piece of chicken, have it be the actual bird. It's nasty enough what they do to a chicken to turn it into a box of McNuggets, and I don't want to think of the additional steps of nastiness required to turn a handful of tasty-in-their-own-right beans into that.
Anyways, I guess it was her affinity for all things soy that led us to the original purchase of Trader Joe's Soy Chorizo. It sounded interesting to her, and I guess for the $1.99 and her happiness, we put it in the cart. We got home, put it in the freezer (it does freeze well) and a few nights later, decided it was time to try. I did not have high hopes. First off, the very name is a lie if you know any Spanish. Soy Chorizo = "I am sausage".* No, you're beans, not delectably ground up little piggies. Then the way it is packaged is somewhat of a lie. It's tubular shaped, and comes in plastic casing, which originally lead me to believe this was a grillable-type of chorizo. So I go out, put it in on the grill (anything is better grilled), and once it gets even somewhat hot, it starts crumbling into a mess. Not good. I take the pieces I can salvage and not knowing what else to do, come back inside, put in a frying pan, and start cooking it. I explain this to Sandy, we re-figure out our dinner plans, and decide to make a go of it. Not knowing what else to do, I think we ended up tossing in some black beans and rice once the chorizo was crumbled completely and beginning to brown. We also had some salsa to stir in along with some cheese, and either tortillas or tortilla chips. Finally, it was time to take the first bite ...

Freaking. Awesome.

For a soy-based meat product, it's really good. Scratch that. It's just really good, period. It's spicy, but not overly. The chorizo when cooked also has just a little of the requisite gristle so it's hard to remember that it's not actual meat. When made with rice, beans, and other stuff (our favorite way to have it), it really seems to hold it all together without dominating the other tastes. I think it'd be a pretty good meat substitute for anything ground meat would be needed for in a spicier dish, like chili, tacos, or hotter pasta sauces. It's not anything you can shape or form into a patty or loaf, so burgers and the like are out, but it tastes better mixed into things as opposed to standing on its own anyways.

This has become a "must buy" nearly every time we shop at TJ's - Sandy and I always ask each other how much milk we have left, how many eggs, and if we still have any soy chorizo in the freezer. It's almost become that much of a staple - I'd say we eat it probably at least every other week. We heartily recommend trying it out just as described above - with black beans, rice, your favorite salsa, cheese, and tortillas. Sandy calls it our "everything we love in a bowl meal", which I think sums it up pretty well.

I think Nathan did the star rating thing. I'll use the same methodology, except instead of stars I'll use golden spoons. I give it a rock solid 4.5 golden spoons (it's tough to get 5), Sandy's busy so I can't ask her but I think she'd give it a 5, so 9.5 golden spoons out of 10.

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*It occurred to me after writing this sentence that it might not have been a lie after all. If TJ's wanted me to read into the Spanish meaning of the product name, they probably would have marketed it under Trader Jose's, not Trader Joe's. We call it "I am sausage" anyways because it sounds funnier, and it's so good, I'm not going to argue with it.

14 comments:

  1. i just stumbled across this blog and love it already as i'm a huge trader joe's fan. i recently discovered this soy chorizo and am in love with it! in my opinion, it's better than the real thing because it has all the flavor and is perfectly (rather than overly) greasy.

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  2. I'll have to try your recipe - this is a staple in my home as well, but as a breakfast food! My girlfriend and I love it scrambled with eggs and cheddar cheese.

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    1. I do the same! If anyone is doing Weight Watchers, here's a decadent breakfast for 10 points:
      - 1 serving soy chorizo (I prefer to call it "soyrizo")
      - TJ egg whites
      - 2 tbsp TJ black beans
      - 1 ounce TJ lite Mexican cheese
      - 2 tbsp TJ fat-free sour cream
      - dash Mexican/taco seasoning
      - hot sauce or salsa
      - 8 tortilla chips

      Cook chorizo, beans, and seasoning until softened, then add eggs and cook until eggs are finished. Top with sour cream and hot sauce. Eat by scooping with chips, or crumble them over it and eat with a fork. Mmm...

      Cook

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  3. Dina - thanks for finding us! Man, it is good, isn't it? We still get it almost every trip.
    Myr - that sounds really tasty! Gonna have to try that soon. With maybe some peppers and tortillas that sounds like a great breakfast.

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  4. Porcine chorizo mexicano is also not a hard sausage and is meant to be broken up by mashing with the spatula as it is browned.

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  5. "It's nasty enough what they do to a chicken to turn it into a box of McNuggets, and I don't want to think of the additional steps of nastiness required to turn a handful of tasty-in-their-own-right beans into that."

    I assure you, what they do to the chickens (and the "little piggies" you mention later) is far, far nastier.

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  6. Just tried this stuff today, and its awesome! As someone who loves meat and could never be a vegetarian, I'm a fan. As suggested, I added some black beans, rice, salsa, and cheese, and its a great quick and tasty lunch.

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  7. We combine one package with a package of ground turkey and make soy chorizo turkey burgers....sooooo good!

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  8. For an awesome, awesome dip: 1 container sour cream, 2 links soy chorizo, 1 package shredded pepperjack, and some green onions (just eyeball it). Microwave 4 minutes, stir, then another 4 minutes, and if you're serving it for a party keep it warm in a crock pot. Amazing!

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  9. Try using beaten eggs and breadcrumbs to hold it together into hamburger patties!

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  10. Sloppy "Joes" would be awesome too. I'll try that sometime soon.

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  11. Unavailable lately. Have been told Trader Joe is looking for a new manufacturer for this product. If they don't bring it back I don't know what I'll do! I use it in tacos and lasagna. I miss it. It's the most convincing meat substitute I have ever eaten.

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  12. Try Field Roast spicy chipotle vegan sausage. It is FABULOUS! I've never tried the TJ's chorizo but if it's no longer available, I'm sure you won't be disappointed by the Field Roast. It's the best meat substitute I've tried and several carnivores have eaten my dishes using Field roast and had rave reviews.

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  13. Hi, they reformulated and reintroduced this product. Do you happen to have any in the freezer lying around? Can you message me if you do? Thanks!

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