Jordan's Page of Useless Babble

Stouffer's Barbecue Chicken & Bacon Bistro Panini

I do enjoy a challenge.
I do enjoy a challenge.
Microwave ovens. They are fascinating machines. Percy Spencer, an American engineer was working on building magnetrons for use in radar sets when he discovered that the microwaves being emitted from the magnetrons cooked the chocolate bar he had in his shirt pocket. Presumably, after changing his shirt, he began to test cooking food, starting with popcorn, and then working up to eggs. Eventually ol' Percy designed a box to retain the microwaves emitted and thus the microwave oven was born.

Now, there are a lot of misconceptions about microwaves. Yes they do produce radiation. No, this is not the kind of radiation that causes cancer and kills you. What the microwaves do is excite the molecules in the food to cook it. This usually means water, but some fats and other stuff can do the same thing. Effectively that means that microwaves boil food in their own liquid. One last thing: they do not cook from the inside out!

So when Stouffer's said that they had created a sandwich that toasts in the microwave, I immediately thought they were full of shit. Now it's time to put them to the test with the Barbecue Chicken & Bacon Bistro Panini. Why barbecue chicken and bacon when there are seven other kinds? Well, it's the only one with bacon, so it's really a no-brainer.

Before we see if this sandwich is truly "grilled hot off the microwave", let's review the rules shall we?

  • Rule #1:
    I must follow cooking procedures exactly as they're shown on the container. I will not deviate from those instructions in any way, and I must prepare food in the fastest manner presented to me.
  • Rule #2:
    I must consume everything that comes with the meal. No hiding of disgusting parts will be tolerated. (In the unlikely event of bones or other inedibles, allowances will be made).
  • Rule #3:
    To make sure my palate is completely free of obstructions, I may only be allowed either water or alcohol. Alcohol does not include fancy-pants fruity girly drinks.
  • Rule #4:
    All food will be graded by smell, taste and mouthfeel, with less offensive qualities receiving higher marks. At the end, each part is receives an average score. The full meal is graded by the average score of each component. Appearance of the food is not graded because, let's face it, they all look pretty bad.

Holy shit.  This just became a lot more complicated.
Holy shit. This just became a lot more complicated.
The sandwich-cooking apparatus is complete.  Nobody breathe.
The sandwich-cooking apparatus is complete. Nobody breathe.
Now I was expecting that cooking this thing would take a bit of work, but I hadn't prepared for craft-time. In order to cook this food, I had to go through special steps. The box has to be opened a special way, and then folded into a raised tray. The sandwich comes partially unassembled, and you have to remove it from the plastic setting it on it's special tray, and make sure that the two halves are on their special (and marked) areas of a secondary tray that goes on top of the first one.

After all that work, you'd think it would be time to cook the damn thing right? Wrong again! No, first you have to wait for 5 minutes because that will let the bread brown better, or so the box claims. After waiting for my timer to go off, I finally set the contraption in my microwave and waited for the thing to cook.

Coming out of the microwave the sandwich looked promising enough, and everything was certainly cooked through. The cheese, real cheese this time was bubbling and brown on the edges and the meat sizzled slightly. Finally the moment of truth had come. Was this truly a toasted sandwich?

Hell no!
Hell no!

Barbecue Chicken and Bacon Panini

Bacon makes it all worthwhile...
Bacon makes it all worthwhile...
The whole thing smells...well, neutral. It's got a smell of warm bread, although it doesn't smell like fresh bread. The taste is disappointing. There's way too much cheese here and it's slightly neutral flavor somehow manages to overpower everything else. There's no real way to describe that sensation. The chicken seems real enough, but it's flavorless. And so is the bacon. Yes, by all that is good and wholesome, the bacon is flavorless. This has gone straight from an interesting experiment in science to a painful exercise in madness.

As for the's gummy...I've been denied the toast that I was promised and I'm left with microwaved bread. Warm, gummy, old-tasting bread. This does not make for a happy Jordan. I wanted to take more pictures, but after taking a bite, I realized that this fairly innocuous-looking bread held ninja-grease that lay in hiding until I touched it, then coated my hands with a layer of fat so thick, I could scrape it off and make candles from the leavings.

Smell: 5/10
Taste: 3/10
Mouthfeel: 4/10
Total Score: (4/10)

So that's about all there is to that. This is a meal that makes perfumed promises of toasted yumminess and bacon but delivers microwaved bread and some pitiful meat-like substance that isn't fit to share the same name as bacon: our true, smokey master.

Bottom line is this: Stouffer's is like a pretty whore. She will tell you many things, and make many promises. Like the whore, this is all a ruse to separate you from your money. And also like the whore, you're left with something gummy that doesn't taste of bacon.

Next time we're going old school with a Salisbury Steak dinner from No Name Brand.


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