Let me say right up front, I’m not a vegan. I love meat. My wife leans more towards vegetarian than I do, but she can’t live without her cheese and 1/2 and 1/2 in her morning coffee. I have over the years tried to cut back on my consumption of meat, especially red meat. I have my own chickens and we eat a ton of eggs (something I could never live without!).
When I first heard the term, I thought they were talking about someone from Las Vegas! Moving to Seattle has made this whole vegetarian and vegan thing right in my face! I have many close friends now that are vegans and I feel their pain sometimes when my friends are at a party or something with a lot of meat eaters and there is nothing around for them to eat. To that end, I am making it a mission to taste a large variety of prepared vegan and vegetarian foods to stretch my understanding of what’s out there.
First up in that realm is the Trader Joe’s Chicken-less Stuffed Cutlets with Black Bean and Corn in a Smoky Tomato Sauce. Trader Joe’s has gone way above and beyond to carry a wide range of specialty foods including Kosher, Vegetarian, Vegan and most recently a lot of Gluten Free products. I’ve always just walked past those sections and went right for the meat!
Anyway, I forced myself to pick up one of these meatless products masquerading as meat “Chicken-less chicken”!?!? There is no such thing! Maybe they should called “This is not chicken, but something that looks and tastes like chicken” Why not? They have a product called “This is not a tub of cream cheese” I feel their dilemma though and probably wouldn’t buy a product named that!
So what is Chicken-less Chicken made out of? The first ingredient on the back is “Chicken-less Cutlet” Hmmm… What is Chicken-less Cutlet made out of? Water, Soy Protein, Vital Wheat Gluten, Natural Flavors, Modified Vegetable Gum (how is modified? hmmm), Potato Starch, Canola Oil, Pea Protein, Carrot Fiber, Beet Fiber, Yeast Extract, Sugar Cane Juice and Salt. Hmmm… This should be interesting!
After looking through the ingredient list, I looked over at the preparation instructions. I have never seen four different ways to make something from Trader Joe’s. Usually it’s just two ways, Microwave and something else like the oven or stove top and I usually opt for anything BUT the microwave! It has Microwave, boil in bag, stove top and bake. In this case, it say “Microwave is best”. Ok, if they say that, I will follow their lead.
I open the box and there are four pouches together in one piece of plastic. Two cutlets and two for sauce. It made it kind of awkward to cut free one cutlet and one sauce. Once, I did that the next thing on the instructions is to pierce the bag. OK, which part of the bag? There are two pieces to it. If I don’t pierce the sauce, it would probably explode in the microwave and if I do, it will probably leak all over the place. I’d rather have it leak a little than explode, so I pierce both bags.
Once the time is up on the microwave, I cut open the different parts and pour the sauce over the Chicken-less cutlet and it looks quite appetizing! The tomato sauce smells quite nice. The cutlet itself looks kind of like a big chicken meatball. They aren’t very big, at least for me! When I cut into them, I could see the beans and corn quite obviously. I cut off a piece of this chicken-less stuffed concoction and put it in my mouth half expecting it to taste rubber and I have to say that it wasn’t half bad. I really liked the marinara type tomato sauce and the black beans and corn give it a nice texture and there is a nice spicy hotness to the mixture. The actual Chicken-less cutlet was a bit rubbery, but not too bad. Some of these fake meats can be quite a bit rubbery but this wasn’t too bad. I’ve had worse real chicken!
I don’t know if this is something I would ever buy for myself as a meal, but for this blog I am willing to taste almost anything that Trader Joe’s throws out into their stores!
Tip of the day: Load up on Christmas goodies ASAP, they will be gone next week!
I am going to rate the Trader Joe’s Chicken-less Cutlets 7 Bells! At the end of the day I was a little surprised at it not being completely awful!