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, January 31, 2017

Trader Joe's Pork Rib Bites

Gotta give my wife Sandy credit.

Not just for putting up with me for nearly 10 years now. Although that's quite a feat in and of itself. Believe it or not, I'm not the easiest guy in the world to put up with. You shoulda seen the other morning when we had a hissyfit over Tupperware, namely the collection I had at work and the corresponding lack thereof for home supplies. Not pretty. We're still trying to abide by the marriage rule we established of "No talkie before coffee."

But also....she's changed. Quite a bit. In a good way. She's so much more adventurous now for food than she was when I first met her. I distinctly remember one of our early dates (maybe our fifth?), back when I had to really worry about impressing her, so I wanted to make her dinner....and was so worried she wouldn't like homemade chocolate chip cookies. Seriously. It was valid concern.

Not all that long ago, a product like Trader Joe's Pork Rib Bites wouldn't be on her radar at all. Something-something "looks too saucy", "meat on bone", or some sort of anti-meat sentiment would stop her from giving them a try. But because of my slow, persistent, and carne-abiding ways, I've finally gotten over to the world of enjoying things like meatloaf and smoked meats and sausage and such. Heck, she even tried scrapple on account of me.

And as of a few weeks ago, she was really excited about these pork bites and couldn't wait to try them. So she picked up a couple boxes for our crew and brought them home and planned a nice little meal around them and everything. Thanks, love.

Unfortunately, the piggy poppers would have been best left on the shelves.

Maybe a bit harsh, but I was not a huge fan of them. The problem wasn't the sauce - as you can see, there's ample amount. It's mild but smoky, with some depth - a good, decent Kansas City style sauce that would appeal to the masses. Think of a decent generic BBQ sauce and you'd get a close approximation to the sauce splattered all across the bites. it's the meat itself. It's....just not great. Granted, rib meat isn't always the best and choicest cuts, but even by those standards, it was gristley and chewy with some definite hard-to-chew bits. A lot of the bigger bites were dry once getting past the saucey outer stratospheres. The boned part took up at least half the meat chunk, leaving me with the impression that the price point ($5ish for the box) wasn't a great value.

The meat deficiencies were at least probably partially due to the fact that the bites are fully cooked, but requires 25 minutes or so of heating in the oven. Seems overkill. But I did as I was told.

And the packaging...ugh. There's the big box on the outside, with a much smaller plastic baggie inside holding the bites. There's no reason for the outer box at all except to make the purchase look bigger than it actually is. Common practice, I know, so I hesitate to call it deceptive,  but it is something to be aware of.

Sandy actually seemed to enjoy them much more than I did. Maybe I'm turning into the picky one. But I would have been happier, personally, buying a package of raw ribs and grilling and basting them with another sauce (on the recommendation of many readers, would definitely try the new Yuzu sauce!) then buying them again. I guess there's a "convenience" factor here, but still, I'd pass. I can't give them more than a two, at most, if only because the sauce was pretty decent for what it was. My ever-tolerant spouse, though? She's happy doling at a perfectly middle of the road three of them. As always, she's more gracious than she oughtta be.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Pork Rib Bites: 5 out of 10 Golden Spoons


4 comments:

  1. Maybe if you could braise a bit then it will become more tender and add the yuzu hot sauce.

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  2. We actually quite like these. Maybe it's the sauce. We microwave them, which is, of course, much quicker. I agree completely about the packaging, and about the ratio of meat to bone.

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  3. Did you get a new wife who is this Sandy character?

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  4. I thought the amount of meat was OK for $5, but I couldn't eat a lot of the meat because it was grisly/fatty as you mentioned. I had some bone, too. Otherwise pretty delicious. I'll try the full rack next time and see if the meat is higher quality.

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