“ Type: Meat „
When coming in from the cold on a bitter winter night there is nothing better than some traditional hot comfort food for your supper ..... but this is supposed to be summer! Nevertheless a few days ago, a mid July evening found me battling through drenching rain and gale force winds which nearly knocked me off my feet and eventually arriving home cold and miserable. Once a little drier and slightly warmer, I found the courage to plunge one arm into the freezer in order to retrieve this unusual variety of Cumberland Pie which is not traditional but can be quite soothing at such times.
~~~CHICKEN AND BROCCOLI CUMBERLAND PIE -THE FACTS!~~~
This is billed as containing pieces of chicken in a creamy sauce with broccoli topped with mashed potato with 30% extra chicken but by what criterion "extra" is judged is not clear! Of course, Tesco are using poetic licence in naming this dish because Cumberland pie is normally made with minced beef but maybe this is a slightly healthier alternative. It comes in the usual plastic dish, covered with clear film and wrapped around with a recyclable cardboard sleeve. (There is no indication as to whether the dish can be recycled)
~~~Nutrition & Allergies~~~
This does seem to be quite nutritionally balanced but there are no claims to it being a healthy option. The salt content is quite high being nearly one third of the recommended maximum daily amount and it is certainly not for those who are trying to slim. Per 500g pack there are 535 calories , 0.5g sugar, 25.4g fat, 14g saturated fat, 1.9g salt, and 13.4g fibre.
Many allergy sufferers will have to avoid it as it contains milk, wheat , gluten and celeriac and, whilst not containing nuts, it cant be guaranteed nut free.
There is a further warning that it may contain bones although I have eaten it several times and not discovered one.
This is an adequate portion for one person (500g) if teamed with some vegetables and the cost of £1.97 makes it one of Tescos more reasonably priced ready meals
This is simplicity itself, just unpack, remove the film lid and pop in a oven preheated to 190C or gas mark 5, for 25-30 minutes (ten minutes longer if cooking from frozen). I would recommend oven cooking as the potato browns more satisfactorily and the slower method seems to bring out the delicate flavours. However, it can be also be micro-waved straight from the freezer in a maximum of 14½ minutes
~~~THE EATING EXPERIENCE~~~
There is ample chicken which tastes like and has the consistency of breast meat but is probably a reconstituted variety. In fact I found there was a chicken piece in every mouthful. Chicken in ready made meals can sometimes end up tasting like flavoured sawdust but this is chunky and satisfyingly chewable. The really creamy white sauce is slightly buttery and flavoured with vegetable concentrate and white wine making it very palatable but not overpowering. The broccoli is the long stem variety and provides a slight al dente crunchiness which is a satisfying contrast to the tenderness of the chicken.
My real criticism relates to the mashed potato topping. Maybe I have an unusually healthy appetite or piggish tendencies but I could eat a far more generous helping. Its prettily piped but I doubt it is much more than a centimetre thick. It also has the consistency and taste of a powdery, reconstituted (Smash type) offering which really bears little resemblance to the proper fluffy variety. However its saviour is the cheddar cheese crumb topping which is wonderfully crunchy and tasty and serves to distract the diners attention from the mediocre mash!
This wouldnt be sufficient to satisfy my appetite as a complete meal but I usually serve it with generous portions of carrots and green vegetables. Alternatively a separate tomato salad can be quite an acceptable accompaniment, if a little unorthodox. Although tasty the flavours are delicate and, on occasions when I have felt in need of a little more piquancy and spice, I have added some pickle on the side or a dash or two of Lea Perrins sauce but maybe I have unusual tastes.
I know that ready meals have their critics but sometimes they can be very handy especially when you live alone and dont find much satisfaction in cooking for one or you need something sustaining in a hurry. For me this is one of the better varieties available being tasty, acceptably nutritious, versatile and reasonably priced. As it can be cooked from frozen it is also a good quick standby. I am very critical of many of Tescos ready meals but this is one of their better efforts although I have to remove a couple of stars for the mashed potato which disappointed both in quantity and quality. Keep trying harder Tesco every little helps.
500g. Pieces of chicken in a creamy sauce with broccoli topped with fresh mashed potato.