Ready Meal Review: All Steak Pukka Pie

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I don’t think that much beats a good pie. I like making my own, I really do, but sometimes you just don’t have the time. I also don’t have the patience to fully encase my filling in pastry and sometimes I just want the stodge. Sometimes you just want to buy a ready made pie and devour it.

Chicken pies are all very well and good, but steak pie is just better. Unfortunately I’m really limited on the steak pies I can buy being allergic to tomatoes. Reliably I can buy Waitrose’s and Pukka’s, although I’m told Morrison’s are me-safe too. When I noticed Pukka All Steak Pies were reduced to £1 in Tesco over the weekend I simply had to buy one. It ended up photographing quite well, so thought I’d review it too!

After 30 minutes in the oven (from chilled) you have what is to me a perfect pie. Crispy pastry on top, but stodgy and almost soggy underneath. Filled with a thick gravy and properly big chunks of meat. Served with plenty of veg and a little extra gravy, its my perfect meal. Normally I wouldn’t serve mash with it, but I had potatoes to use up.

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I personally think that, although people frown on them (they are sold in chip shops after all!), Pukka pies are really good quality. I’ve never had any fatty or grisly meat in there, just decent chunks of what actually looks and tastes like steak. The pastry isn’t crisp all the way round, but I kinda like that. Its comforting! I can’t say I’d necessarily spend more than £1 on one of these, but I’m happy to treat myself if I spy these on offer. I’m a girl who likes pie, and this girl says that a Pukka Pie is a pie worth the buy!

On that cheesy note, what’s your favourite pie?

Ready Meal Review: M&S’s Chicken, Bacon & Corn Chowder

2014-01-18 18.09.03Not exactly your typical ready meal, but on Saturday night I was in desperate need of something very quick to cook, and speedy to eat.

You see, I had planned my time well. I would leave home in plenty of time for my train after a light lunch, have a twenty-minute turnaround in London, and be in my university home 90 minutes before my ASDA order would arrive. Giving me plenty of time to cook some pasta; the only thing I had left anyway. This plan did not go to plan. Arriving at my departing station half an hour early, I learned that the train I was booked on was cancelled (I did check before leaving too!). I ended up leaving on a later one, thus missing my connection out of London, and being due to arrive just at the beginning of my food delivery slot. I knew that as soon as I started cooking it would turn up, and I also knew I was beginning to get hungry before I’d even got to London, let alone Canterbury. So I decided to pop into M&S and find something.

I’ve got a bit of a liking for soups at the moment; blame EAT and their delicious Laksa. I like my soups to either be vegetably and blitzed, eaten with good bread, or chunky and very flavoursome, to be eaten on their own. This ended up combining the best of both worlds!

2014-01-18 18.18.52The soup ended up being properly ready and hot (with no excessive crunchy chunks of potato) in the promised 3 minutes, it was creamy, but there were still some massive lumps of chicken and bacon in there. Everything tasted of itself, not just some mish-mash of flavours, and it was probably one of the best soups I’ve bought to be eaten at home. With a good grind of black pepper on the top, it was just what I needed!

Except it didn’t last. I had the whole pot to myself, and whilst it looks like a lot, whilst it filled me up at the time, I ended up hungrier than when I started within the hour. Maybe it was all the travelling, but I’m not sure I would trust this soup to be a full meal again! Maybe a lunch, alongside a sandwich (or cheese on toast…this combination is amazing!). I’d buy it again though, because it was a damn good soup!

What’s your favourite soup?

 

 

Ready Meal Review: Sainsbury’s Chicken & Bacon Pasta Bake

 

 

It’s pretty common knowledge that I’m not a fan of ready meals. Definitely not to live on by any means – I just don’t think they are particularly nutritious, and I also think they are a ridiculous waste of money. That said they do have their place. There are (very rare!) occasions where you don’t have any food in the house, don’t want a takeaway, and just want the comfort of something warm and stodgy. On those occasions I do see the point of ready meals. As long as they are good. To that end, I’m going to add very occasional reviews of any ready meals I eat to this blog. They will be rare because I probably eat one a term if that. But if I can’t persuade you to steer away from them all together, I can recommend ones that aren’t too offensive. And offer tips to make them better.

2014-01-08 19.16.49First up is this offering from Sainsbury’s – Chicken & Bacon Pasta Bake. Not that there was much of a ‘bake’ element with it…

I decided to buy a ready meal on this occasion because I headed back to university in the middle of my Christmas holidays for one night only. We’d also suffered a power cut in the “Storms of 2013” and so I couldn’t rely on any of my ready-frozen meals being safe, so my boyfriend and I opted for a ready meal. We bought two of these pasta dishes (at £2 each, I KNOW I could make something for the same price, if not less, that tastes far better!) along with a garlic bread and a salad. Cheaper than a takeaway, but definitely not inexpensive.

The instructions (we used the oven) were to cook for 15 minutes (lid on, but pierced), then take the lid off, stir and cook uncovered for a further 15 minutes.

The stirring part was when I encountered the first problem. It didn’t actually taste of anything except whatever herb that was in there! I panicked ever so slightly and turned to the spice rack;

2014-01-08 19.14.08I stirred in hell of a lot of black pepper, a good lot of garlic powder, and a little onion powder. This lifted the dish right up, but I’ve got to be honest, it still wasn’t great.

After it had finished cooking (including at extra 10 minutes at a higher temperature) it looked like this;

2014-01-08 19.16.32Definitely not what was advertised on the packets…where’s my crispy ‘baked’ top?! I’ve got to be really honest, I reckon this dish cried out for a cheesy topping. If I’d had some, I would have definitely added some!

Having said all that, adding all the additions definitely helped, and along with the salad and garlic bread it certainly made for a comforting dinner in front of a DVD. Would I have it again? Possibly if I was absolutely stuck. Would I rush out and get another one? No, I reckon it was overpriced for what it was, and I’d sooner try something else, just in case there’s something better. Moral of the ready meal story? Add salt, pepper, garlic and onion, and everything will taste a lot better.

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Do you have any ready-meal recommendations?