After a week’s hiatus, I’m back! This time with a change of scenery. Currently on a family vacation on the beach in Ventura. Its been a beautiful week, full of fun, sun and sand… but alas, I can’t escape the clutches of shitty food.
In picking up some items at the grocery store for our beach vacation, I came across the Hormel Compleats series of foods. These off the shelf microwaveable meals come ready to eat with no refrigeration required in their storage. The fact that there is meat in these kinda scares me… but I guess it can’t be any more dangerous than canned foods as they are completely sealed.
Growing up, my family ate plenty of Chicken and Dumplings. My Grandpa was born and raised in the south, by way of Louisiana, and so it was a staple for every family get together. One of my favorite things about Chicken and Dumplings is there are so many ways to do it, and everyone’s interpretation is different. Some people make a chicken and veggie soup with biscuit like dumplings, some make small drop in dumplings, my mom would make thick, rich dumplings with an almost gravy like chicken broth. It’s all delicious.
But can Hormel’s ready to eat, shelf stored, dumplings and chicken stand up to one of my child hood comfort foods?
The box advertises tender white meat and tasty dumplings in a savory sauce. I’ve done enough of these blog posts to know that anything advertising a “savory sauce” is a red flag for “mouth full of shit juice”.
The back of the box included fairly standard instructions for most microwaveable foods. It also lacked any instructions on carefully storing in cold or refrigerated areas. So it’s hard to say whether or not the compleats at any time were stored in direct sun light on a warm day.
In an attempt to make this food seem at least somewhat healthy, Hormel includes some great “Fast Facts”. These fast facts carry an abundant of information such as the amount of protein in this meal as well as Hormel’s phone number and website. Facts it failed to mention here were the complete lack of any other nutrients, and high levels of salt! But damn, we get protein!
I removed the box and prepared the dumplings and chicken per the prescribed instructions. The package had definitely gone through a vacuuming process prior to shipment to get the air out. This helps with storage, and prevents spoilage. But the yellow staining from the inside of the wrapper would make me suspect if I didn’t already know any better.
Fresh out of the microwave, the meal had a strong scent of old beef. I still can’t figure out why all these preserved chicken meals smell like old beef. You’d think it would maybe smell like old chicken.
The dumplings sat below the sauce line, waiting for their moment to shine. As a whole however, it looked like something I’d have thrown up after a bad combination of excessive drinking and binging raw pizza dough.
Despite their roundish shape, the dumplings had a consistency of wet saltine crackers. Just barely holding their shape before collapsing to mush when they hit my mouth. The savory sauce was a salty mess of nasty. Occasionally, I’d come across a tiny chicken cube – if it really is chicken – but the amount of chicken was so lacking that it made sense Hormel named it Dumplings and Chicken instead of the other way around. Based on the whole dish though, I don’t believe for one bit more “chicken” would have made this dish any more pallatable.
Thankfully I’m still on vacation… I can just curl up in a beach chair for the next few hours and stare at the waves while carefully contemplating my decision to eat Hormel’s Compleats Dumplings and Chicken meal instead of just grilling up some beach side burgers and hot dogs.
Lets just face the facts here… This is not something that should be non-refrigerated. You could maybe get away with a can, but even then, I’m assuming the amount of salt it takes to preserve this would make it just as bad.
I think Hormel could have done a lot better with a frozen meal. Still could have been bad, but flash freezing the dumplings may have prevented them from getting so soggy during storage.