Thursday, May 3, 2012

Critique: Marie Callender's Roasted Garlic Chicken

So little time and so many TV dinner to choose from! This little number by Marie Callender’s line of steamed products got my attention by their use of the word 'roasted' in the meal description. Now, I’ll admit to being somewhat confused here. Just who got roasted? Was it the garlic or the chicken? I was determined to find out. I also like it that this meal has a serving of penne pasta. Penne is of Latin origin and dates from the word penna which means ‘quill’. These little cylinder shaped noodles must have looked like the quill part of a feather to our Latin and Italian ancestors. Actually, it doesn’t look like that at all. (I hear both groups were very fond of the fruit of the vine, that that may explain things).

This meal is one of those really cute ‘steam it in the basket’ creations that I’ve tried and enjoyed before from the Marie-C Kitchens which are actually a subsidiary of Con-Agra. At a hefty 410 calories, it qualifies as a full meal, so absolutely no side dishes are required. I picked an evening when eating one seemed appropriate. You know, one of those nights when you find yourself eating alone. (Which I am a lot)! Yeah, it was just me, my TV dinner and the trusty old microwave sitting off in the corner of my kitchen. I tell you, it was romantic…almost.

I followed the package directions which say to just basically nuke the heck out of it for four minutes, stir, add the sauce and serve. Like that’s so totally hard? Then, with fork in hand, it’s primo gusto eato time!

I think, in retrospect, it is the combination of flavors that I like the most. Something about chicken and pasta has always worked for me. The sauce and the vegetables (artichokes??) merely seal the deal. The chicken was perfect as was the texture of the penne. I gave this one a solid 8 out of ten on the edibility scale and yes, I plan to purchase this item again!

One final note concerns that little combo plastic steamer tray that's left over after the meal. You'd think some bright young person could come up with a use for this. I mean it does looks useful, I just don't know how!I also don't know if you can recycle this plastic as it isn't stamped. Perhaps the nice folks at MC could see fit to fix that little problem in the future. I sent them an Email explaining this and they have assigned me a case number. Now, I'll just hold my breath...

Update: On May the 5th, I did get a response:

"Marie Callender's Pasta AL Dente  packaging is made from polypropylene (#5 plastic) in order to provide a package that is both safe for microwave cooking as well as having the ability to function as a steaming package.  There is no other material available that can provide both of those critical performance attributes.  To indicate the plastic resin type, the #5 in the "chasing arrows" is embossed on the bottom of both the steamer basket and the bottom bowl.  While #5 plastic is technically recyclable and is collected in some municipalities, collection of this material is not widely available to the substantial majority of consumers in the United State.  For that reason, we are not able to claim that this package is recyclable; however, we encourage you to check with your local recycler as it may be collected in your area."

Guess that clears that up! 

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