If you lived through the 90’s like me, you’ll no doubt be familiar with the Pace brand of salsa. You’d be a fool for buying any of that salsa made in New York City…Over the years, the Pace brand (a member of the Campbell family of brands) has branched out to chips, dips, sauces, and now ready to eat meals.
Among the southwestern inspired flavors such as “Southwest Style Mac & Cheese”, “Santa Fe Style Steak with Black Beans and Rice”, and “Fiesta Chicken and Rice with Green and Red Peppers” can be found the “Cheesy Chicken Quesadilla”.
Now, I don’t know about you, but when I think of quesadillas, I think of two tortillas with cheese, and sometimes meat between them, grilled or pan fried to melt the cheese and crisp the tortillas. In fact, a quick google search will show you exactly that.
But in defiance of tradition, Pace has unleashed something upon the world, the likes we’ve never seen before… the tortillaless quesadilla.
Now, to be fair, they could mean quesadilla flavored… but I’m thinking maybe they meant “queso” which would make the “cheesy” part kind of redundant.
Instead of the grilled flat delicious tortillas stuffed with cheese, we get a microwaveable pouch filled with beans, rice, cheese, corn, bell peppers and jalapeños. This by it’s self does sound quite delicious. But does this microwavable amalgamation match up to the description?
Per the instructions, the pouch must be microwaved, unopened, for 1 minute and when done, it has convenient “cool touch” tabs so you don’t burn your fingers.
As it spun in the microwave, the pouch ballooned up due to the steam pouch technology which traps steam inside and slowly vents it out as it cooks the contents inside.
One of my first complaints about this is that the packaging only has the cool touch tabs at the top, above the perforations from which you can tear and open the pouch. This makes it difficult to tear open without still burning your fingers.
Once opened, I poured a massive lump of rice and diarrhea into a bowl. At least that’s what it looked to be. The pale brown color of the bean/cheese/? mix left little appeal to my appetite. The smell however remind me of a solid chili con queso dip. So maybe there could be something salvageable here.
But alas, texturally it did not hold up. The beans had been mushed into a paste, and not like a canned refried bean kind of texture, but mushy wet paste. This may be due to the mixing in of a very liquidy cheese sauce.
The rice as well was problematic. I wasn’t sure if I was actually eating rice. It didn’t taste like rice, and had a texture of mushy overcooked pasta.
I thought that maybe I could cover the flavor up with some of my favorite hot sauce Tapatio, but unfortunately we ran out, and my wife thought Cholula was an ok alternative… This may have put our marriage on the rocks. Cholula is NEVER an acceptable alternative.
Overall, probably one of the better things I’ve tasted for the blog… but still just not great.
I know it seems convenient, and trust me, back when I was in my early 20’s living alone, I probably would have thought this was the greatest invention ever… but when it comes down to it, grab a rice maker, a can of refried beans, some cheese, peppers, jalapeños and maybe a little cilantro… 20 minutes later, you’ve got something that tastes WAAAYYYY better, and with about 10 times more servings, way cheaper per serving than the Pace ready meal.