New Food News
Cue news theme tune: I bring you the New Food News for June 2014… part 1 (I was going to cover multiple items, but this rather long)
1. Charlie Bigham’s delicious handmade dinners for two.
I think I’d seen Charlie Bigham’s in Waitrose and Sainsbury’s but not really paid much attention to them. Then I heard a BBC Radio 4 Food Programme documentary called Britain and the Ready Meal. It’s a really interesting listen - it charts the rise of the chicken kiev and spends a chunk of time talking to the team at Charlie Bigham’s innovation kitchen. Hear them cooking 150k of potatoes cooking, ready to be mashed.
Mr Bigham is now launching a new range of world ready-meals. This seems to go back to their roots, since they with Caribbean lamb, Cajun chicken with salsa, and Salmon with a dill sauce.
The company aims their product at people who ‘wouldn’t normally buy a ready-meal but…. Which is exactly the case for the Pigling Bland household. It would be rare (now) for me to buy a £1 ready meal, but I am much more likely to buy a something that enables Mr B and me to have a nice meal without having to think ahead.
We had Amy (of Miskin Makes) and Stephen (of new album) staying with us for the weekend. Somehow I’d feel fine about serving pre-made pizzas but ready meals to visitors would normally feel a bit wrong. I realise that’s very inconsistent. However, the meals were sitting in the fridge and it made a lovely evening for me knowing I could just throw the items in the oven, cook some veg and sit back. The relaxing part wasn’t due to less work being done, but more to do with the fact that if it wasn’t great I could blame someone else and no-one would have to be polite about it.
I was very surprised and pleased that when I looked at the ingredients list there was not one single thing that I would’t have in a kitchen. No odd sounding stabilisers or additives.
We tried three from their new range:
Chicken in White Wine Sauce & Mash
Spanish Chicken and Chorizo with Roasted Potatoes
Chilli Con Carne (the next day after the Millers match at Wembley!)
So…how were they?
1. Ready meal carbs always seem a bit pointless. I pretty much discount them when I calculate value for money.
The mash was ok, not the best ready mash I’ve had and I could make nicer mash at home. I probably wouldn’t have remembered to buy potatoes though. The roast potatoes don’t go crispy – I’d say they were cubed potatoes. Rice – this was much more impressive. It came with foil to keep it moist, had veg mixed with it and was fluffy where my rice would have been soggy.
2. The sauces.
I particularly love the chili con carne sauce – it was really fruity and I kept noticing different hints of flavours. I would rarely take the time to stew something for as long as it must take to create this depth of flavour.
The white wine sauce - super creamy and whilst not obviously winey I scraped the last of it off the packet – so I think that says what I thought.
The Spanish chicken and chorizo – again tasty, not too oily.
Overall – I like. They don’t seem cheap (£7) but then I suppose that actually £3.50 per person is really not bad at all – it worries me that I balk at the price, as it probably says something about the importance I put on good produce. All their chicken can be traced back to their Dutch producer, though they do say up front that it’s not free range or organic.
I was sent the meals for free but I wasn’t asked to write a review and I certainly never intended to make this big-a deal of the product but there it is – that’s what I thought.