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Thursday, August 22, 2019

Trader Joe's Chicken Chilaquiles Rojo

There's some dispute apparently about the origin of the phrase "winner winner chicken dinner." One of the more common theories is that a chicken dinner in Las Vegas used to cost about $2, the same amount as a typical bet. So you win a bet, you won enough for dinner. Or somebody would bet all they had in hopes to win enough for some food. That sounds kinda like a cross between desperate and degenerate, but there we are.

Let there be no dispute here, though. The new Trader Joe's Chicken Chilaquiles Rojo are an absolute winner.

Proof enough: we had them dinner twice this past week. That's rare for us, especially for a prepackaged item we'd have to buy twice. But Sandy and I enjoyed them so much the first time around, but I was convinced I could make them even better and had to try before writing this review. Not that either of us minded.

The secret for good prep is to actually ignore the directions a little bit and add no extra water. The chilaquiles are a frozen item after all; the ingredients will release enough water on their own while cooking. No need to add extra unless you like yours on the soupy side.

Regardless, these taste friggerin' delicious. There's loads of beans, onions and peppers with an almost adequate-enough amount of chicken simmering in a not-all-that spicy tomato based sauce. Seriously, don't assume they're too spicy for you - our four year old who's a spice wimp had no issue. Still, there's plenty of taste - a little savory, a little smoky, the teeniest amount of heat. There's just some depth here.

Add in the included tortilla chips to soak up some of the liquid, and sprinkle a little cotija cheese atop. The chips definitely help fill out the meal, and the cotija adds a little sourish pungent touch that works well with the overall vibe of the dish. Think of it like a bowl of nachos with chili or super thick chunky salsa, and add some guac or some sour cream. We also put a hard fried egg atop ours per the serving suggestions - delicious.

The chilaquiles rojo aren't perfect though. Primarily, it's the serving sizes. Sandy is superstrict about serving sizes. We didn't measure, but there's no way each bag has 2.5 servings. Unless we're absolute hogs, because both times we made them we made two bags and had no problems or remorse about eating the entire supposed five servings between us. Also, as slightly hinted at, there could be a few more bites chicken included.

Other than that, we're talking near perfection here. For about $3 or $4 a bag, the chilaquiles are repeat buy worthy again and again. You can bet on it.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Chicken Chilaquiles Rojo: 9 out of 10 Golden Spoons 

10 comments:

  1. It can go toward the soup direction. Just reserve tortilla & cojita cheese for top. Or can be for burritos too

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  2. Thanks Unknown ^ love the burrito idea!

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  3. I just went to my local TJ's in Sherman Oaks. They told me this is a discontinued item!

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    1. I got some in Oakland yesterday, but I will say there seemed to be only a few bags and I had a hard time finding. Does seem very niche and many might like it if they made it as a sampling in the store, but hard to portion out in small bites.

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  4. Normally don't buy "meal kit" type stuff at TJ, but you convinced me and it was excellent. Agree on your points about it being good for 1 portion for a full meal and also not needing to add water since the thawing adds some viscosity. Thought it was high quality chicken, though not a huge amount, and the cotija cheese was fragrant and chips added nice balance in texture and a starch. $5 price (in bay area) almost scared me off, but worth it!

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  5. About discontinued items... Anyone heard anything about mushroom turnovers?


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  6. About discontinued items... Anyone heard anything about mushroom turnovers?


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  7. Nice to see that it isn't as loaded with sodium as I'd expect a prepared food to be. I try to choose products with 500mg or less per serving size. But I'll have to pay attention to serving size with this!

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  8. 650 calories is a good meal size. I'm guessing they wanted to downplay the sodium when they decided it was 5 portions. For $4 is it really less than just making chilaquiles? Seems a can of beans, salsa, and chips (or stales tortillas) costs the same and you don't have to defrost.

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