Product Type: Iceland Ready Meals
Newest Review: ... duck for it to feature on every fork-full and even though it was a budget meal I didn't feel that Iceland had skimped on meat. Also the ... more
Does cheap and filling make a good ready meal?
Iceland Peking Duck With Rice Ready Meal
Member Name: bluetoothpick
Iceland Peking Duck With Rice Ready Meal
Advantages: Quick, simple, large enough portion for my appetite.
Disadvantages: Too sweet, duck pieces not as large as on the box
Today, after finding myself in a different area of town to the ones I usually frequent I discovered an Iceland store and decided to pay it a visit out of pure convenience.
I needed to pick up a few household essentials before I headed home but I was also hungry for lunch and to save myself the cooking I thought I'd pick up a ready meal from their extensive range. I'm not a huge fan of ready meal per se as I get so much satisfaction from cooking from fresh, but I have partaken before with mixed results.
I really enjoy Chinese food as a rule and when I'm not preparing a meal for myself I usually pick something I wouldn't necessarily create at home. I've had aromatic duck from my local take-away and always really enjoyed it but never buy the meat to cook myself. I saw a duck in Peking sauce, with white rice, at the bargain price of only £1 in the cabinet and thought I'd give it a whirl. The box at least had an attractive image of the prepared meal in a shallow bowl showing the shredded duck, along with the water chestnuts, red peppers and carrots which also make up this meal.
Having got it home I had a look at the cooking instructions to see that it would need to be cooked in two stages, something which I haven't come across a lot of in the past, with a total cooking time of around 10minutes from frozen in the microwave (based on an 800w oven) or alternatively could be prepared on the hob, boil in the bag style, in 40 minutes - something which surely removes the ease and convenience of a ready meal?
The microwaveable bags needed to be pierced several times prior to cooking and placed on a microwavable plate. The bag containing the sauce went in first and after it's allotted time was joined by the rice bag. I found the cooking of the product pretty straight forward and didn't too much mind the 2-stage cooking process as I found it gave me time to prepare myself a drink and sort out my cutlery etc. rather than being a hindrance. Removing the product from its bags and arranging on a plate was a little more tricky however.
Obviously the product is piping hot after cooking and even though the instructions advise you to leave to stand for a minute before removing from the bags I still found the product too hot to comfortably handle and ended up leaving to sit for around 3 minutes before I dared attempt to serve it. The main problem, I believe, is that the main 2 ingredients of the sauce are sugar and treacle - both of which hold heat for a long time. After finally opening the bags I placed the rice on the plate and emptied the sauce packet on top, although having the holes big enough to allow some of the sauce to run though as I emptied it meant that this was no easy feat.
Sitting down to eat it my first impressions of the product was, oh my word - THE SMELL, and not necessarily in a positive way. The strongest smell of cloves and star anise was overpowering and gave the dish an aroma of Christmas and liquorice. Neither of which I'm a huge fan of. I just hoped that the flavour wasn't equally as intense. Also the pieces of duck weren't as large as the photo on the box but I've tended to find ready meal box photos are never really accurate and for £1 it was a close enough representation of what I was about to eat.
Onto eating it I found that, thankfully the flavour of the star anise and clove in the sauce wasn't as strong as the aroma - it was still present however but in a much subtler way. The actual taste of the sauce, whilst plentiful, was undeniably sweet, unfortunately almost sickly so. There was enough duck for it to feature on every fork-full and even though it was a budget meal I didn't feel that Iceland had skimped on meat. Also the water chestnuts were crisp and added a nice texture to the meal, the carrots and peppers however were soggy and to me unnoticeable in a mouthful. The rice maintained it's integrity which pleased me as I've found with other ready meals it can become gooey and too soft. This wasn't the case with this meal.
I finished every bite and found the portion size to be just right, however, I did get an after-taste for quite some time once I'd finished eating which wasn't participially great. Very sweet with a hint of burnt sugar and cinnamon. For anyone who appreciates such flavours though at least it would offer the opportunity to "enjoy" this meal for an additional hour or so after finishing it.
Even though I encountered a few problems with this meal, and the 2-stage cooking instructions might be enough to put off people more happy with "bunging it in" no hassle ready meals, I do think this meal was excellent value for money. Enough of it to satiate my hunger, unbeatable price point at just £1 and clear cooking instructions which worked, at least for me. As for ingredients I think it's fair to say that you get what you pay for.
I'd happily recommend the meal to a friend - perhaps one I knew had a sweet tooth - and it's filled me with enough confidence to return to Iceland and try more in the range. Hopefully you'll enjoy reading my reviews on my future purchases?
Summary: Deffinately worth a try, perfect for those on a budget and simple enough to cook.
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