Spicy Chicken & Pepperoni Bakes
I'm sure I've mentioned how dubious I am when foodstuffs - particularly of the frozen variety - claim to be 'spicy' or 'fiery'. Almost without fail, they are disappointing in that they lack basic flavour and any spiciness is mild at best. I mean, pepperoni is supposed to be spicy, but it very rarely is. I picked these up fully expecting to be completely disappointed, but I was surprised to find it was actually pretty spicy. Not just 'pepperoni spicy', either... it was more like chorizo.
The pastry is more or less the usual frozen Greggs stuff, coming out light, fluffy and crumbly. The filling isn't exactly overflowing, but nor is it as meagre as some of the others in the range. The chicken pieces are of a reasonable size, and the pepperoni pieces are certainly identifiable, but neither are as plentiful as the photo on the packaging suggests - it's the usual trick of pushing all the filling to one side to make it look full.
A suggestion on the box is that these can be served with potato wedges (and some kind of salsa, if the photo is anything to go by) to turn it into a 'proper meal'. I might be tempted to add something else, were I to go that route... Some sort of veg, perhaps, so it's not quite such a stodge-fest..?
Sausage & Bean Melts
Iceland has a very dubious product in its 'own brand' line called 'Cheesy Beans & Sausage', and this is essentially the Greggs version. There's no potato filler, it just gets wrapped up in puff pastry. What you have is a jumble of sausage pieces, probably about a dozen baked beans and a few shavings of cheese, all mixed up in the usual kind of tomato sauce you'd get from the average tin of beans. Of all the Greggs bakes I've tried, this filling was probably the most miserly and, again, the photo clearly involves some kind of artistic license with the quantity of filling.
The filling tastes pretty much as you'd expect - if you dislike any of the components (it's the beans, right?), you're likely to find them revolting, but I'm no stranger to these kinds of things - and it goes fairly well with the pastry. Thing is, it's only an egg and two slices of bacon away from an All-Day Breakfast Melt, so it's puzzling that the serving suggestion is to slap it on a plate with some mashed potato. The photo is rather ambiguous, too - it could be showing mash or scrambled egg with the generous dollop of ketchup.
My usual strategy for these things is to have an entire 2-pack for lunch (unless I'm not especially hungry) so as to avoid the large cardboard boxes occupying all that space in my freezer for too long, and to avoid the necessity to figure out some kind of accompaniment. Since my expectation for these bakes was that they'd be quite bland, all they needed to do was fill the lunchtime hole in my stomach. The Chicken & Pepperoni ones were a pleasant surprise, but the Sausage & Bean bakes met my expectations precisely which, in this case, isn't necessarily a good thing. Neither is a product I'd rush out to buy again - at least, I haven't bought any more since - but the former is one to remember for those times when I have virtually nothing in my freezer that isn't made of potato, while the latter probably counts as a form of comfort food.