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Thursday, 21 July 2011

Birds Eye Chicken Chargrills - Mexican

When it comes to putting together an evening meal, I'd be the first to admit that, other than those times where I make something from scratch on the spur of the moment, I'm a little lacking in imagination. Most of the time, it'll be some kind of fish or chicken fillet, chips or potato waffles, and some representatives of the vegetable community.

On the upside, it's not as if there's any lack of variety when it comes to the 'fish or chicken fillet' component, with myriad coatings, seasonings and sauces available to spice things up a bit. And it was with this in mind that I decided to try out Birds Eye's Mexican chargrills...

It should be noted that where the packaging makes a big point of saying these things are "Made with 100% Chicken Breast", they are not chicken breast steaks. They are, basically, reclaimed meat... minced up and formed into the shape of a chicken breast, before being coated with a spicy sauce. It's important to point this out because I know there are those who object to this practice: yes, it's 'chicken breast meat', but it's what's left over when the real meat has been cut off and packaged. The good stuff is long gone.

Also, it means that the texture is... odd. It's very clearly shaped, minced meat, rather than complete muscles from a once-living thing, and some people will no doubt find that off-putting. When you cut into these things, they don't tear into stringy, fibrous meat, they just cut. It's light and fluffy, certainly, but do you want that property in your meat?

There again, there are those that might actually prefer their meat this way. I know I can be a bit fussy about meat if I find veins or weird fatty bits in it, and processing the meat removes all trace of anything recognisably arterial.

Ultimately, it may just come down to price, though. Birds Eye is a long-standing and trustworthy name, and it's rare that I've found their products to be anything but good value on balance.

So, how do they taste? Well, I've always found there's something different about processed chicken versus it's natural form. Possibly some kind of seasoning added to the mince, but it doesn't taste anything like the chicken one would cut from a roast bird. Not unpleasant, but also not the flavour I know as 'chicken'. The marinade is actually pretty fantastic - I'll often complain about so-called spicy sauces, marinades and glazes that just aren't. It's not so spicy you'll be reaching for a glass of water, but the flavour does go some way to distracting from the strange texture of the meat.

The packaging's serving suggestion - with a pile of tortilla chips and some salsa - is as good a suggestion as any, and I reckon this would work just as well in a bun as it would on a plate with appropriate accompaniments. Mixed veg was perhaps a little boring (I really need to expand my repertoire of plate-fillings), but it would certainly work with some kind of spicy rice - Mexican-style being the obvious suggestion - and, if you feel like completing the illusion of cheap, dirty Mexican food, a serving of refried beans.

Birds Eye themselves have serving suggestions featured on their Facebook page and, if the whole range is as quick and as easy to cook as this, it'd be worth giving them a try... as long as you have no objections to the way this meat is prepared.

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