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Showing posts with label other meat. Show all posts
Showing posts with label other meat. Show all posts

Friday, September 9, 2016

Trader Joe's Marinated Rack of Lamb with Herbs

After yesterday's review slightly toeing the line of religious imagery. today's review will steer clear. There's a lot of lambs in the religious pasture. But to be fair, Sandy and I also partook of those three cheese wafers, and also came away with the unshakeable impression of communion wafers. The only thing I'd like to add is, I've been to Communion performed, by a very serious, straight-faced pastor...with a hot dog bun. There was a slight miscommunication that week for who was bringing the bread. Classic.

Sandy and I also tried out the new Trader Joe's Marinated Rack of Lamb with Herbs this past week. There's also the oddly placed and/or punctuated "fully cooked" part of the product name...are the herbs the fully cooked part? The lamb? The whole shebang? Well, let's drop the slightly premium price of $15.99 a pound to find out!

As much as we both love lamb...a lamb rack is not a cut of meat we're overly familiar with. See: that price point. The few times we venture into lamb, we're more lamb chops/lamb roast/gyro kinda folks. So what I'm about to say about the meat itself, not sure how much it is intrinsically indicative for the particular cut versus this TJ branded box. But...there's not very much meat at all. Once we got it on our dinner plates, our meat looked like mostly bones, with a lot of fat and sinew intertwined in there. I'd say we each got maybe three or four reasonable bites of lamb meat, then the rest was picking and baby bites before kinda surrendering. At a certain point, the visual analysis showed that the effort wasn't worth the payoff.

But what meat was on there...soft, tender, pink, delicious. Despite its nearly raw appearance, the lamb was fully cooked via the sous-vide method before we ever got our hands on it. Very savory, and the herbs added a great little smidge of flavor, especially some mild garlic, without overpowering the natural goodness of the meat. You can't have that much fat without some natural juicy goodness, which really shone through.

There's a couple oddities I think are worth note. First: So. Much. Packaging. The lamb comes vacuum packed...inside a box so relatively large I'm surprised it didn't say "Some Settling May Occur"...that is in turn shrinkwrapped. The conspiracy theorist in me thinks that's to give the impression that there's much more meat in there than there actually is, so as to make the price point more appealing. Could be true, can't prove it's not. Also, the prep method: Heat in oven for 35 minutes (on a hot summer night? No way) or microwave then pan sear? Odd. We went the second route, and though not the nuke wizards the Rodgers are, I think we succeeded.

This probably won't be a repeat buy. Which is kinda a shame. I get that it's lamb, fancifully (and may I add skillfully) prepared, with some major convenience factor built in, and it's delicious, so I appreciate it all...but for paying $13 and change for what amounts to a few bites, can't say I'm completely satisfied, either. Wife is in the same boat. Oh well. At least we had a quiet small fancy dinner together, just the two of us, before it quickly devolved into some animalistic bone gnawing. Three each.   

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Marinated Rack of Lamb with Herbs: 6 out of 10 Golden Spoons

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Trader Joe's Gyro Slices

Yes, they exist.

No, I'm not talking about cell phone batteries that don't die every five minutes, pens that don't stop writing with only half the ink used, or a Justin Bieber song that doesn't suck. It's a not that good of a world out there. But at least we do have Chuck Norris-approved roundhouse kicking jeans. Listen, with those hidden gussets not binding your legs, you got some full leg-swinging freedom there, partner.

Nope, I am talking about Trader Joe's Gyro Slices. They do exist. I know, because I just had them for dinner. But if you're searching the shelves for them, good luck...much like their distantly related riced cauliflower cousin, you're much more likely to spot that Bieber character in your local TJ's than this particular meat package. It's that popular with demand that far underestimated that warehouses are out, so get yourself on the waitlist, and if you see any, stock up and sell on eBay.

Are the gyros worth the hype, though? Ehhhh...debatable. Don't get me wrong - I enjoy gyros at local Greek food festivals just as much as anyone reasonably can, so I was pretty hyped up as well. But the TJ gyro slices just aren't quite as good as those - close, but not quite.

The reason? Possibly ignorance, probably perception bias. But I've always thought that the meat in gyros at the food festivals was lamb, or at least mostly lamb. Now, there's lamb in these guys too...listed as the last ingredient before the "Contains 2% or less of the following" part of the credits. So, there just might be as little as 3% lamb we're talking about here...probably more than that, but undoubtedly more beef than lamb. As a result, I swear these taste more beefy than other gyro meat, which kinda comes off as vaguely Steak-Umm-esque, but how accurate that is debatable at best.

That sounded like an insult. I didn't mean it that way. In every other regard these seem spot on, with the breadcrumbs adding the right mealy-meaty feel, and spiced appropriately with the pepper and garlic and whatnot. And I'd be danged if altogether both Sandy and I didn't enjoy a good made-at-home gyro that we'd be more than eager to do again, all for the fraction of the price of gyros out. It helped that when all the sandwich components were together, the perceived beefiness became a lot less noticeable.

For the requisite "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" reference, I won't vouch these are entirely authentic, but will say spraying Windex at them will certainly not make an improvement. If you see 'em, snag 'em. Double fours.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Trader Joe's Lamb Koftas

"Kofta." Now that's a cool word. I've never heard it until stumbling across Trader Joe's Lamb Koftas on my latest trip. Basically, a kofta is a Middle Eastern/Indian/ Mediterranean meatball, with different variations from different regions. Sounds good, and I was interested.  My wife Sandy, though? My goodness. She's not usually not one to get too excited about most meats - she's on record on saying she'd be vegetarian if she only liked vegetables more, and I've seen her be indifferent towards bacon, of all things - but lamb anything she's all over it. "I've just never have had any bad lamb," she explains. Granted, me neither, but most of my exposure to the gastronomics of the wooliest of farm mammals has been limited to gyros at Greek food festivals and an occasional dish here or there from either TJ's or occasionally out. I recall us making lamb roast a year or two ago for Easter, and being relatively unimpressed but not overly dismayed by it. Regardless, since I said before we go in it was her turn to find something tasty for dinner, once these koftas were spotted, there was no question what was going on my dinner plate that night.

Like most of TJ's Indian-inspired dishes, the real highlight to me was the masala sauce. It comes frozen in a side packet that you swish the meatballs around in once they're heated up. It was so good - a little heat, a little creamy, but so much flavor - I think I got a hot dog bun out to grab every last drop I could. If you've had their masala sauce on other dishes before, you know what I'm talking about. It's gooooooooood. I think I could put it on anything.

As for the lamby balls themselves...to me, eh. Without the masala, they tasted like a meatier-but-still-tender sphere of gyro. That's not a bad thing, but it was kind of unexciting in of itself. Heating them was a cinch - a couple minutes on the stove top while steaming in a little water was all they really needed. Other times we've gotten frozen meatballs, I've had to cut them in half mid-cooking so the insides would thaw to a less than rock-solid state without blackening the outside. No such issue here. Neglected to take a picture of the finished product, but each kofta was a couple bites each, with ten in the package (so about 50 cents each), so it seemed like a decent value to me.

Sandy, though? Score this as another big winner for her, enough that she unequivocally gave them a perfect five. For me, I'm not as impressed, but when (not if, "when") these come back to my place for dinner again, I won't be disappointed. Sandy gets some more lamb, I get some more sauce, and we're both pretty darn happy then. Definitely a winner dinner.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Lamb Koftas: 9 out of 10 Golden Spoons

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Trader Joe's Natural Buffalo Jerky

I was going to buy more turkey jerky, but I was afraid I might gobblegobble it all up.

Then I thought maybe I'd get more salmon jerky. I wonder what in the heck spawned that idea.

Then I recalled my coworker promised me some kangaroo jerky, and that made feel very hoppy. 

But I got me some Trader Joe's Natural Buffalo Jerky anyways because, umm, Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo? Right. I have no idea what that means, and I'm not even an intimidating American bison from Western New York State.

Nah, I bought the buffalo jerky because of the high recommendations of you, our faithful readers, and needing a shelf stable, tasty, protein-laced snack for work as part of a diet/exercise regimen I'm trying out (down about 4 pounds in a week!). As much as I'd love to have a Foreman grill at my cubicle, I don't think I could swing that. I'd rather fight for a yoga ball to sit (a la the mayor in "Portlandia") on instead of our 0 WAR* office chairs anyways.

You know, I swore I had this a few months back while on a massive jerky tilt, and thought I wasn't too terribly impressed. I remembered dry, tough stringiness without much flavor. Maybe that was just an exceptionally sad sack, or equally as possible, my brain checked out completely, because this is good, good, good jerky. Darn good. Each chunk I sampled was actually soft and tender, like 90% dehydrated slices of buffalo steak rather than jerky. No stringiness. No tough little bits to dig out from molar crevices. Just soft, sweet buffalo meat.

And I do mean sweet. Apple cider vinegar was a brilliant call as it shines through, yet it's balanced out by a little smokiness and slight bit of sugar. Very tasty. Just...it says "spicy" on the package. I don't expect a Tabasco-laden karate chop to the taste buds, but there's not quite enough, at least not upfront. Some sneaks back up the windpipe, but just even a scant shake of black or even crushed red pepper, just to give a little hint of heat, would've really taken it to the next level. Still, I'm very appreciative of the flavor which, even though there's a good bit of sodium each serving, is still much less than many competitors.

Alan, my loyal jerky companion (who actually did supply some kangaroo jerky, which was also tasty yet strangely reminiscent of a Hebrew National hot dog) agreed, giving a description that only he can. I quote: "More buffalo tender than jerky.  Consistent meat, no filler, smooth like the first hit off a Marlboro Red.  Perfection transcended upon the combination of sugar, soy sauce, and apple cider vinegar.  Creeper spice, nothing on initial tasting, but snuck up behind and bit the tongue."

I'll tell you what I want, what I really, really want: the term "creeper spice" to catch on. Wonder which one she was. Zig a zig ha!

Seriously, though, good jerky, probably the best I've had in recent memory. Price isn't too bad: $5.99 for a 3.5 ounce bag. You'd be hard-pressed to spend less elsewhere, even at the online mecca of Amazon. Just needs that extra kick of spice, and it'd be a Pantheon shoo-in. As is, it knocks at the very door.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Natural Buffalo Jerky: 9 out of 10 Golden Spoons
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* Sorry, baseball nerd talk....it's almost Opening Day! And yes, our office chairs are Ryan Doumit...at best. Which is kinda appropriate if you think about it.       

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Trader Joe's Uncooked Ground Buffalo Burgers

Buffalo buffalo, buffalo Buffalo buffalo. That's a complete, grammatically correct sentence. No really. It's a command telling a bison from Buffalo, NY to baffle or intimidate another bison from Buffalo, NY. And this wikipedia page says you can actually use eight "buffalo's" in a row and make a grammatically correct sentence. Just try to wrap your brain around that. Yeah. And people say that English is a practical language.

When I was a kid, I had all kinds of allergies, including allergies to foods. My mom did too. So an allergy specialist recommended that we rotate our foods so that we wouldn't develop allergies to them. I could only eat beef one out of every four days. So on those other days, we'd eat chicken one day, we'd eat fish another day, and on the remaining day...well, we'd get adventurous. My dad had an international company ship us exotic meats from around the world. They were packaged with dry ice, and man was that stuff fun to play with! The dry ice, I mean, not the meats. But anyway, the point is that I tried buffalo, among many other bizarre meats, at a very young age, and it's always been my favorite red meat, which puts it very high in the running for my favorite food, which puts it very high in the running for my favorite thing on planet Earth.

So, this ain't my first day at the buffalo rodeo. In fact, I've even had a Bison Burger at a Red Robin restaurant in my hometown in central PA circa 2008/2009. Apparently Franklin County, PA is more open to buffalo burgers than either southern California or south Jersey, because my wife and I asked about buffalo burgers at Red Robins in both of those places, and in each instance, we got blank stares followed by talk about beef burgers containing buffalo sauce, bleu cheese, and ranch dressing. But freakin' A, that bison burger at the Red Robin in my hometown was the best restaurant burger I ever had. I think I paid $2 more than their average dead cow sandwich. Worth it, if you ask me. I guess the powers that be must have heard a rumor about a weird family in historic Chambersburg, PA that ate buffalo meat and told their friends that it was tasty, and so they decided to make that their test market. Or maybe they slaughtered the aged, dying bison from ZooAmerica in Hershey for cheap, and then had them shipped down I-81. Either way, it totally worked.

Despite the TJ's product's high fat content (20%), fortunately it didn't taste or feel that way. I like to think that most of that fat cooked out of it when we put it in the skillet. The pan was full of liquid grease after we cooked the burgers in a thin glaze of Coconut Oil Spray. The taste of buffalo meat is very similar to beef, but it's even more flavorful in my humble opinion. During the buffalo's attack, it tasted like it was going to be gamey, but then it evolved into a non-gamey, tannin-free alkaline red meat flavor, and finished clean, with a medium-bodied "butter beef" essence. Of all the stupid things I've written on this blog, using wine critic terminology to describe buffalo burgers is bound to attract the most internet trolls, although I must point out that Sonia coined the term "butter beef," not me.

In other news, these patties are 'spensive. $10 for three. Yep. They're tasty, but if you're preparing for the imminent decline of the US dollar like I am, you better budget your bucks before you buy bloody buffalo burgers. Boom. Oh, and that reminds me: these patties were unbelievably bloody. Like readily dripping with red blood out of the package. Delightfully macabre.

I give this product 4.5 stars for its exceptional taste. Sonia gives it a 4. Click here for a pic of the raw product.

Bottom line: 8.5 out of 10.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Trader Joe's Perline Pasta & Prosciutto

Happy New Year!

No doubt, it's a pretty widespread tradition to have pork on New Year's. Something about pigs only being able to go forward. I'm not sure if that's really true, but then again, I've never seen a pig do the moonwalk...have you? Anyways, that's not exactly how us Shelly's roll. Last night, while everyone was no doubt ringing in the New Year with some champagne (or a reasonable facsimile), we were at home, on the couch, sipping on some iced tea and egg nog, content to watch the local telecast because let's face it, Times Square isn't the same without Dick Clark, despite, well, you know. Yup, we're apparently getting old and lame. At least Baby M was pretty ecstatic before passing out at right about 12:07am.

Anyways, despite our lack of pork today, at least we had some last night with Trader Joe's Perline Pasta & Prosciutto. Prosciutto is a mighty fine cut of meat, perhaps not as high up as pastrami on "meats that begin with 'P'" ranking, but when done well, certainly above pepperoni. And I love pepperoni. Sandy picked these up last week on one of her rare solo grocery shopping trips, and made them up for dinner with a little organic vodka sauce.

They're not too bad. I'm not sure if vodka sauce would be the right accompaniment for them, as it seemed to hide a little flavor subtlety that I could almost sense, but then again, I'm not sure what sauce would be. As is, the pasta kinda reminded me of little squid-shaped sacks with little balls of meat for its brains. The pasta part tastes pretty good - there's at least something that visually resembles rosemary in it, and it kinda tastes like it too - while the meat part took me a few bites to get into it. It's prosciutto kinda all ground up and mixed in with some beef and breadcrumbs and whoknowswhatelse to make a little meatball. To be honest, the first few felt a little gritty and smushy and I wondered where the flavor was. But then it kinda all started kicking in, and I could taste all the little different parts working together to make the filling a fairly unique concoction. I'm not sure I would make prosciutto, beef, breadcrumbs and whoknowswhatelse a regular meatball recipe, but I'm not sure I wouldn't try it out anyways. It works, but for me, just barely, at least in this iteration.

Sandy loves these little prosciutto pasta purses though. Loves them. When she brought out our bowls, she had that look on her face and tone in her voice when she said, "You're gonna hate these. I'll do you a favor and just eat them for you." That's a thinly veiled code in our house that we want something all to ourselves nearly as bad as Smeagol wants the One Ring. She gives them a four and a half, and stated the only thing that keeps them from being a full-handed five is the nutritional info (egads!  look at the sodium and cholesterol!). Me? Kinda like this other fresh pasta concoction, I could make do with or without them, but with the right sauce, maybe I'd be more on board. I'll say a three.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Perline Pasta and Prosciutto: 7.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Trader Joe's Honey Glazed Miso Salmon on Salad Greens

I'm beginning to grow skeptical of Trader Joe's salmon products. The best score we have so far on a TJ's salmon dish was a measly 6.5 stars out of 10. But our biggest complaint about the Mojito Salmon wasn't the salmon itself.

The Sockeye Salmon, however, was a different story. In this case, the salmon completely ruined a halfway decent bag of pasta and vegetables. With a few notable exceptions, we had a lot of comments and emails supporting our findings and opinions about that particular product. The salmon in that bag was just nasty.

Yet, brave adventurers that we are, the foodie-hack bloggers of WG@TJ's plow forth—with our tongue-in-cheek statements of self-aggrandizement held high, ingesting even the most risky of TJ's dishes, hoping that we, for the vicarious benefit of our readers, will discover something unique and tasty and worthy of our hard-earned dollars.

This dish, unfortunately, does not fall into that category.

I must admit that there is generally a huge range of differing experiences when it comes to Trader Joe's already-prepared, refrigerated meals, since the freshness factor can vary a bit, and the amount and quality of each ingredient used can also vary. But again, as in the case of the Sockeye Salmon, we have a meal with great veggies and pasta that is spoiled by a batch of highly-fishy salmon. The dressing was good, the lettuce was fresh, the lo mein was tasty, if maybe a bit too soggy. No major complaints, except for the salmon.

But unfortunately, the salmon is the centerpiece of the meal—or so one would think by looking at the label. I suppose in this case it was a saving grace that there wasn't very much salmon in the salad. What little salmon there was tasted like dirty socks—and yes, I know what dirty socks taste like...long story, don't wanna get into that now #childhoodtraumas.

I'm just going to go ahead and tell you to try it if you're desperate for a lo mein-topped salad with Asian-ish dressing. But be prepared to scoop out the salmon and serve it to a starving stray cat, who very well may pass on the offer.

2.5 out of 5 stars from me. The same from Sonia.

Bottom line: 5 out of 10 stars.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Trader Joe's Lamb Vindaloo

I'm sorry. I think lambs, in general, are very fun, cute, little animals. I, however, don't have any fun, cute, little stories about them whatsoever. So let's just get on with the business of talking about eating them, shall we?

Trader Joe's Lamb Vindaloo. As you can see, it's another frozen Indian entree that Trader Joe's has concocted for us. That means one thing if you want to eat it for lunch: a microwave. Hmm, microwavable lamb. As one of our fans aptly said, that's kinda a scary notion, so it was with a little bit of trepidation that I bought this for myself. Sandy though? She was all about giving it the old college try. Nuked peppers scare her off. Nuked lamb bits don't. Go figure. Lamb might be her favorite meat after bacon, so I'm sure that has something to do with it. We've tried pretty much every other Indian offering fom Trader Joe's, so we were hoping it'd be good

Tell ya what: it's different from all the other Indian dishes, and that's a good thing. As much as I'd enjoyed the different curries and tikka masalas and all, to me, after a bit, they began to taste very much the same with only a little differentiation between them all. Not the lamb vindaloo. I love spicy foods and have a higher tolerance for capsaicin-driven cuisine then just about anyone I know; where most of the other Indian dishes registered maybe a four on my 1-to-10 spicy scale, this registered a good solid 8. It didn't make me misty or anything, but it did my nose run a little, and had me plenty thirsty at the end. The sauce was red and rich and savory and had a good burn to it. This is definitely the spiciest thing I've bought yet from Trader Joe's. Loved it. The rice on the side, of course, was nothing special until some excess sauce (of which there was plenty) got involved.

The lamb, though? For what was there, it was surprisingly good, I thought. I got three decent sized chunks, and each bite wasn't fatty or stringy or gristly at all, but instead tender, juicy, and roasted to just about right. I haven't had much lamb in my life, but still, it struck me as good lamb. The down part? Well, just like pretty much every other Trader Joe "meat and something else" product, there wasn't enough of it. I've heard it said that a serving of meat equals something the size of a pack of playing cards (standard ones, not, as much as I would like it to be, those mega ones I swear Bob Barker had but couldn't find a picture of). The three bites I had, judging fairly, equaled maybe 2/3s of a deck. C'mon, I had an afternoon of insurance fustercluck solving ahead of me, I need me some more red meat than that some days, TJ's.

Anyways, before we get to the final wrap-up, you may notice the second picture I have put in this review. Some fans have requested nutritional info on the items we review. As a pharmacy employee (i.e., someone with a vested interest in having as much of the population on Lipitor as possible) and not a nutritional expert by any means, I don't feel too qualified to break it all down. I can, however, take a picture of the nutritional label and have you, the reader, decide if it's something you'd want to try or forego, figure out Weight Watcher points, rally against sodium, etc. I'll make it a point to include a picture of the label in all my posts going forward, and as I have time (and as I repurchase things), update some of the older posts, too.

Okay, let's wrap ths up. Sandy absolutely loved this. She had it for a work dinner last week, and when I picked her up, she raved about it all the way home. Sandy said the lamb was on par with a lot of other times she's had it, and loved all the spices. Like me, though, she didn't love that there wasn't quite enough of it, which was what knocked it down to a 3.5 for her. That seems a little low to me, but yeah, there isn't enough lamb, which makes the $3.99 price point seem a little high. Knock a little off the price, or better yet, sneak in just a couple more bites of tasty lamb meat, and it'll do better than the 4 I'll bestow upon it.

Bottom line: 7.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons