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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Thursday, May 17, 2012

Trader Jose's Chicken in Red Mole

It hasn't been the most fun of weeks here at the Western Pennsylvania wing of the What's Good at Trader Joe's team. Work's been getting crazy for the two of us, and when we're not there we've been dealing with trying to get the home ready for our forthcoming little bundle of joy in, oh, a month and a half or so. Two of the non-negotiable things we've wanted to do was getting our carpets cleaned and installing a new kitchen floor. In perhaps a flash of madness or brilliance, we decided to do both this past weekend. That made for a lot of prep work and clean-up last week. Carpets look great (well, until our dog threw up in the middle of the hallway, at least) and I'm eternally thankful for all the help from both my dad and older brother gave me with the floor. I may owe them a new set of knees each. Laminate's not all that easy when you live in a city that has no such thing as a square room in any of its houses.

Anyways, between being so busy and trying to not buy more food that we'd just have to move somewhere, it had been at least two, maybe three weeks since our last Trader Joe's trip. I'm not even sure what I ate except too much of my emergency stash of Chef Boyardee at work. Blahh. I tell ya what: it felt good to finally go back the other night. Damn good.

I felt even better once we spotted the Trader Jose's Chicken in Red Mole. Apparently it's new, or at least new to us. We're both a big fan of most of the Trader Jose line with just an exception or two, and we've had some pretty good mole in Mexico, so we were both pretty hopeful. This is pretty darn good, if I may say so. For starters, unlike a lot of TJ products, there was plenty of meat. And I mean plenty - it was almost half the package. That's a great start. Plus, the mole...I don't think one could reasonably ask for any better from a frozen grocery store commodity. It coated every single chicken chunk (and mingled down into the rice) with a rich, deep, very smoky flavor. Loved it. You ever look up how to make mole? It's fairly involved, and if I were to attempt it, I would hope it'd turn out nearly as good. It did seem a little drier and perhaps slightly gummier then most mole I remember, but that could've a result of possible inadvertent overcooking in the oven on my part. I was pretty occupied fighting an eventual winning battle as I reassembled our IKEA kitchen shelving (its name? I can't remember if it's Falsapart or Screwmenoscrewyou). The chicken was pretty decent, though, while the rice left a little to be desired. It probably would've been better if it were all meat then have you cook your own rice on the side. I guess the plus side is, since it's microwavable, the fact that it includes rice makes this a full lunch option, but that's be one meal that's too big even for me.

For a $5.99 deal, it's way too big for one person but was pretty amply sized for two, unless you have a way bigger appetite than me, which probably isn't possible. I really don't have all that many complaints about it - maybe that's the recent lack of TJ goodness in my diet talking, but no matter. This will definitely be a repeat purchase for us. Sandy's a fan as well. She didn't give me an exact Golden Spoon rating (too busy with take-home work, which is the absolute worst kind, the poor girl), but I'll assume we're about on the same wavelength and go ahead and assume it'd be a four from her. That's mostly because that's exactly what I'll give it.

Bottom line: Trader Jose's Chicken in Red Mole: 8 out of 10 Golden Spoons

9 comments:

  1. I love reading these reviews and often use them to make purchasing decisions. It would be appreciated if you could provide an indication of how hot/spicy the product is.

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  2. I have to buy this for my family. We're big on mole. I can't really make it, but if this is good enough, I may be able to pull off having prepared it myself.

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  3. I really like the idea of rating a grocery stores products, the advice is always helpful!
    Thank you!

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  4. Um, I bought five of these. The chicken had an off flavor in all of them, just tasted like bitter peppers, and very spicy. No creaminess or richness, just super spicy, with gummy rice. I was shocked to see this get a positive review. I threw 2 of them out, because it was practically inedible, and I usually really like Trader Joe's Mexican offerings.

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  5. This was horrible!!! The chicken was off tasting and grisly, the mole had no flavor...I guess the rice was ok? I threw the other one out. I'm not sure I can trust the rest of your reviews after this one. UG!!

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  6. It's so hard to find good mole...and after trying TJ's Chicken in Red Mole, I guess I'll have to keep looking. Mole is supposed to be a mellow blend of slightly sweet, slightly smokey, and slightly spicy. And definitely not thick and chunky, like this was. In a nutshell, TJ's mole was WAY too spicy. Despite the inclusion of several types of chilis, there was no flavor to this -- just heat. Awful. I threw it out.

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  7. I couldn't eat the Chicken in Red Mole. It was too disgusting for me to continue beyond bite three. It was bland and bitter at the same time. There was no spice, sweetness, or smokey flavor. I rinsed off the meat and gave it to the dog.

    My replacement lunch is (butter chicken and palak paneer) now heating up.

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  8. Based on the comments, I really think it would be a good idea for a take two on the review to see if the product has changed or something.

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